Shooting is the act or process of discharging projectiles from a ranged weapon such as guns, bows or crossbows and slingshots. Even the discharging/launching of artillery, darts, grenades, rockets and guided missiles can be called shooting. When using a firearm, the act of shooting is often called firing.

Shooting can take place in a shooting range or in the field, in shooting sports, hunting or in combat. A person who is involved in the shooting activity is a shooter, and those proficient in shooting is called a marksman or sharpshooter. The level of a person's shooting skills is referred to as marksmanship.

Competitive shooting

Shooting has inspired competition, and in several countries rifle clubs started to form in the 19th century.[1] Soon international shooting events evolved, including shooting at the Summer and Winter Olympics (from 1896) and World Championships (from 1897).[2] The International Shooting Sport Federation still administers Olympic and non-Olympic rifle, pistol, shotgun, and running target shooting competitions, although there is also a large number of national and international shooting sports controlled by unrelated organizations.[2]

Shooting technique differs depending on factors like the type of firearm used (from a handgun to a precision rifle); the distance to and nature of the target; the required precision; and the available time. Breathing and position play an important role when handling a handgun or a rifle. Some shooting sports, such as IPSC shooting[3] and biathlon also include movement. The prone position, kneeling position, and standing position offer different amounts of support for the shooter.


Shooting most often refers to the use of a gun (firearm or air gun), although it can also be used to describe discharging of any ranged weapons like a bow, crossbow, slingshot or even blow tube.[4] The term "weapon" does not necessarily mean it is used as an combat tool, but as a piece of equipment to help the user best achieve the goal of his/her activities.[5]

Practical uses

Olympic competitive air rifle shooting by Nancy Johnson in Sydney 2000

Shooting is used for hunting upland game birds such as grouse or pheasants, rabbits, foxes, deers or other larger game animals, or for culling vermins. Clay pigeon shooting is meant to simulate shooting live pigeons released from traps, after doing so was banned in the United Kingdom in 1921.[6] Sometimes "shooting" refers to the hunting activity itself.[4]

Shooting is also used in warfare, self-defense, crime and law enforcement. Duels were sometimes held using guns. Shooting without a target has applications such as celebratory gunfire, 21-gun salute, or firing starting pistols, incapable of releasing bullets.


Edward Hacker (1813-1905), after Abraham Cooper, RA, (1787–1868), print of shooting, UK.

In many countries, there are restrictions on what kind of firearm can be bought and by whom, leading to debate about how effective such measures are and the extent to which they should be applied. For example, attitudes towards guns and shooting in the United States are very different from those in the United Kingdom and Australia.[7]


Canting is an alignment issue that occurs in shooting. Because scopes need to be mounted to a rifle in perfect parallel to the barrel and to ensure the cross hairs sit exactly where a bullet will go (POI), a small variation of even ¼ of one degree can cause massive problems at longer ranges. A locking bar holds the mount in a perfect 90 degree to the rail system where as a non-locking bar system can cant to the left or right. This canting (sometimes called jamming of surfaces) is caused by not matching the clamping surface perfectly to the rail. When tightened down, stress exerted on the base can cause the scope to be off from the POI by as much as several feet at 100–200 yards and gets progressively worse the farther out the range goes. Lower grade materials used in manufacturing of scope bases, inconsistent design tolerances from one manufacturer to another and other factors can cause twisting stress and cause the mount to move out of parallel with the rifle barrel. The locking bar system allows for even stress to be distributed and prevent canting of the scope mount. Another form of scope canting is caused by the rings themselves. Some mounts either have two or four screws on top of the scope ring that hold the scope in place. With the two-screw style, the ring usually aligns well but does not have the strength of the four screw system. When tightening the screws of the four screw type, the scope can twist in place, causing misalignment.

See also


  1. ^ Minshall, David (2005). "Wimbledon & the Volunteers". researchpress.co.uk. Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "The ISSF History". ISSF. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Constitution of the International Practical Shooting Confederation" (PDF). IPSC. January 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 September 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Shooting". dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "Shooter". dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA)". Clay Pigeon Shooting Association. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Casciani, Dominic (2 November 2010). "Gun control and ownership laws in the UK". BBC News. Retrieved 17 December 2013.