What is Adaptive Shooting?

Para shooting, which involves the use of pneumatic rifles and pistols to shoot at a paper target, has been part of the Paralympic Games since 1976 and is currently practiced in over 75 countries. At the Paralympic Games, para shooting competitions are open to athletes with various physical impairments, including impaired muscle power, limb deficiency, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, and/or impaired passive range of movement.

Internationally, athletes compete in rifle and pistol events at distances of 10, 25, and 50 meters, as well as in trap events, in men's, women's, and mixed competitions. In para shooting, a functional classification system is used to enable athletes with different impairments to compete together, either individually or as part of a team.

The rules for para shooting are based on the modified rules of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) and are governed by the World Shooting Para Sport. These adaptive rules take into account the differences between able-bodied and para shooting competition.

What equipment do I need to participate in Adaptive Shooting?

Types of Rifles & Pistols: In competitive para shooting, competitors use .177 caliber rifles and pistols that use compressed gas, such as air or CO2, to propel a lead pellet towards the target when the trigger is pulled. These rifles and pistols, called match grade, can be customized for the individual shooter with various adjustments for comfort and balance. While there are many types of air guns available, spring-activated or single pump models are typically not used in competitions because they produce too much pellet velocity, which is usually limited to less than 600 feet per second (fps). Precision match grade pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air guns are known for their consistent muzzle velocity and typically produce muzzle velocities between 550 and 580 fps. These air guns use a refillable, pressurized canister to deliver several hundred consistent shots. The consistent velocity of the pellet is important for aiming at a small target, such as a 10 ring that is the size of a pin head (1mm).

Ammunition (Pellets): Lead pellets used in air rifles and air pistols are hourglass-shaped with a diameter of 4.5 mm, or .177 of an inch, and weigh between 7 and 9 grains. The quality of the pellets is determined by the consistency of their shape and weight.

Accessories: In para shooting, there is a wide range of accessories available to improve a shooter's performance. These accessories, such as shooting jackets, gloves, tables, and rests, can increase stability, improve accuracy, and reduce fatigue during competitions.

What is the format of a competition?

In para shooting, athletes are classified into different sport classes based on their physical impairments. The following are the sport classes for rifle and pistol events:
  • SH1 (Pistol): This class is designated for athletes with upper and/or lower limb impairments competing in pistol events.
  • SH1 (Rifle): This class is designated for athletes with lower limb impairments competing in rifle events. These athletes generally have the physical ability to support the weight of the rifle or pistol unassisted.
  • SH2 (Rifle): This class is for rifle events only and is designated for athletes with upper limb impairments, which requires them to use a shooting stand to support the rifle. These athletes may also have lower limb impairments. SH2 shooters who are unable to load pellets into their air rifle are allowed to have assistants load the rifle for them before each shot.
  • SH-VI (Rifle): This class is designated for athletes with a vision impairment competing in rifle events. These athletes may use the SCATT or ECO-AIMS audible tone targeting system and may use a sling to support the rifle.

In trap shooting, the following are the sport classes:

  • SG-S (Trap): This class is for athletes with poor balance and/or trunk stability competing from a wheelchair in a standard seated position. These athletes have impairments in the lower limbs, but no functional limitations in the upper limbs.
  • SG-L (Trap): This class is for athletes with good balance and trunk function competing from a standing position. These athletes have impairments in the lower limbs, but no functional limitations in the upper limbs.
  • SG-U (Trap): This class is for athletes with good balance and trunk function competing from a standing position. These athletes have impairments in the non-shooting arm.

The Open Division includes ambulatory competitors with injuries such as traumatic brain injury, orthopedic injuries, or PTSD.

What are the official positions?

In air pistol competition, SH1A athletes have the option of competing in the standing position or seated position. In the standing position, the athlete must stand free of any artificial support, except for medically certified normal prostheses or orthoses. In the seated position, the athlete may use a wheelchair or other seat, but may not rest on a table or any other surface to assist in the shot.

In air rifle competition, there are three positions available: kneeling, prone, and standing. The kneeling position is for SH1A athletes with lower limb deficiency, while the prone position is for all athletes. Athletes with a trunk function score of A may choose to compete in the standing position.

Refer to the WSPS rules for more detailed information on the positions.

What is the official match format for adaptive shooting competitions?

In para shooting, men and women generally compete together, but awards may be gender-based. Pistol matches include both Open and SH1 Divisions and consist of 40 shots in a specified period of time, typically 60 minutes. Rifle matches include all three divisions and involve shooting from both the standing and prone positions, with 20 shots from each position. Competitors accumulate a total score based on the point value of their shots from both positions.

The format of the competition may vary by venue, but the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) typically recommends a qualification round followed by an elimination round. The winner is the competitor who has one of the eight highest scores in the qualification round and shoots the highest scores during the single elimination match.

The standard match format, with a time limit of 60 minutes, includes the following:

  • Pistol (Open, SH1) – 40 shots
  • Rifle – Standing (Open, SH1, SH2) – 20 shots

The elimination match, which is often more exciting for spectators and experienced shooters, is shot from the standing position. The qualification round includes the following:

  • Men – 60 competition shots in 105 minutes
  • Women – 40 shots in 75 minutes

The elimination round includes the following:

  • Eight finalists shoot 2, 3-shot series in 150 seconds each
  • 14 single shots are each fired on command with 50 seconds for each shot
  • Single eliminations start after the second single shot (first six shots in three-shot series, then the next 2 single shots fired on command)
  • Shooters are eliminated one by one, after every two single shots, until the gold and silver medalists are decided from each division
  • Ties between gold and silver are determined by single shots until a winner is determined