Shooting | The Canadian Encyclopedia



Rifle shooting is divided into 3 basic categories based on the type of rifle used: smallbore, fullbore and air rifle. Further subdivisions in competitive shooting are based on the type of shooting position: prone, kneeling and standing. The average weight of a rifle is between 5 and 8 kg.
Ouellette, Gerry
Marksman Gerry Ouellette, gold medallist in shooting at the 1956 Olympics at Melbourne (courtesy Canada's Sports Hall of Fame,
Thom, Linda
Gold medallist shooter Linda Thom at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Thom had retired from the sport in the 1970s, but when the IOC announced in 1982 that Ladies Pistol Shooting would be a medal event she felt a renewed desire to compete (courtesy Canada's Sports Hall of Fame,
Ewing, Walter
Trapshooter Walter Ewing, who represented Canada at the 1908 London Olympics, winning the gold medal. Media coverage for Ewing's event was sparse, and little was recorded about his Olympic career though he is now considered one of Canada's best marksmen at the turn of the century (courtesy Canada's Sports Hall of Fame,


 As Canada was developing as a nation, the sport of shooting played an integral role in the life-style of its early settlers, both as a means for survival and for amusement and enjoyment as a recreational pastime. Firearms could be found in every home, and as the nation developed so did the sport of shooting. Today, it is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Shooting is a diversified sport with an array of firearms. The 3 main types of arms are the rifle, pistol and shotgun. During the 1860s, rifle associations were formed in Canada to accommodate the growing interest in shooting sports. The first record of a Canadian team representing Canada abroad was in 1871 when a fullbore team shot at Wimbledon, Eng. By 1890, shooting clubs had developed in most provinces.

Rifle shooting is divided into 3 basic categories based on the type of rifle used: smallbore, fullbore and air rifle. Further subdivisions in competitive shooting are based on the type of shooting position: prone, kneeling and standing. The average weight of a rifle is between 5 and 8 kg. Targets range in distance from 10 to 300 m. The rifle events included in the Olympics are, for men, air rifle, prone smallbore, 3-position smallbore and running game target, and for women, standard rifle and air rifle.

 The pistol, designed to be light in weight, was invented by an Italian, Caminello Vitelli, in 1540 and its name derives from his home town of Pistola. Competitive pistol shooting is growing rapidly in Canada and is as popular as other forms of shooting. Some of the most common pistols used today are the rim fire, air, and centre-fire pistols. In competitive pistol shooting the targets range from 10 to 50 m, depending on the event. In the Olympics there are 3 pistol events: rapid fire and free for men and match pistol for women.

The third category of firearms, the shotgun, is used in clay pigeon shooting, where saucerlike clay targets are released into the air at various angles. There are 2 types of clay pigeon shooting - trapshooting and skeet. Trapshooting dates from the early 19th century in England. Because the supply of birds had been severely exhausted throughout the 1880s, marksmen had to find a substitute. In 1880 George Ligowsky of Cincinnati, Ohio, developed the first clay pigeon, which was made of finely ground clay mixed with water and baked. The first record of a trapshooting competition in Canada was the Canadian Clay-Pigeon Championships held in Jan 1886 at Carlton Place, Ontario. Trapshooting clubs were established throughout the country in the late 1880s and early 1890s. There are 2 types of trapshooting in Canada: International Clay Pigeon shooting (also known as Olympic Trap) and ATA (Amateur Trapshooting Assn) trapshooting. A 12-gauge shotgun is used in both. In International Clay Pigeon shooting there are 15 machines that throw the target at various angles between 0° and 45° horizontal and at different heights for a distance of 70 to 80 m. Competitors are allowed 2 shots at each clay pigeon. In ATA trapshooting one machine is used to throw the clay pigeon 50 m at various angles between 0° and 22°. Only one shot is taken by competitors. International Clay Pigeon shooting was first introduced into the Olympics in 1900.

 Skeet shooting was started in the US in 1926. Intended as a way to help shooters improve their field shooting, it is now an intensely competitive and popular sport. There are 2 types of skeet shooting in Canada: International Skeet and NSSA (National Skeet Shooting Assn) or American skeet. The 3 significant differences in International and American skeet are the starting position of the gun, the variable-time release system for throwing the target, and the distance to which targets are thrown - 65 m versus 50 to 55 m. Skeet shooting was introduced into the Olympics in 1968 in Mexico City.

 Shooting has been a recognized Olympic sport since the revival of the modern Olympics in 1896 and the founder, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was a renowned French pistol champion. The International Shooting Union (ISU) was formed in 1907 to oversee and implement the rules, regulations and safe conduct of shooting competitions. Canada applied for membership in the ISU in 1908, and that same year sent a shooting team for the first time to the Olympics. Walter EWING, a trapshooter, was one of Canada's gold medallists. At the 1987 Pan-Am Games, Canada won 5 golds, 2 silvers and 7 bronzes.

A national organization was formed in Canada in 1932 under the name of the Canadian Small Bore Rifle Assn. In 1949 it became the Canadian Civilian Assn of Marksmen. The present name, the Shooting Federation of Canada (SFC) was authorized in 1964 when the trap and skeet associations affiliated to form one umbrella organization. The SFC is responsible for the co-ordination and administration of all programs regarding Olympic- style shooting sports in Canada.

See also entries on George Patrick GENEREUX; Barney HARTMAN; Gerald OUELLETTE; Susan NATTRASS.