Shooting has been a mainstay in the Olympics since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, with the exception of 1904 and ’36. And since then, Shooting has grown from five events to 15 in the current Olympic program. There are nine men’s and six women’s competitions which range in different disciplines including shotgun, pistol and rifle, and shooting, in fact, will award the first medal of the Olympics to the winner of the women’s 10m pistol competition. Each discipline is very specific, which puts pressure on each athlete to perform at the highest level on each and every shot. Execution is key as often these contests can come down to the final shot.
In the 2012 Olympics, both the U.S. and South Korea tallied three gold medals, but Team USA finished fourth in the overall shooting medal count behind China, South Korea and Italy—all countries that will be in contention for medals in Rio.
Breaking down the competitions
In skeet shooting, competitors use a shotgun to shoot one-by-one from eight different stations to hit pairs of clay pigeons launched from two different locations. In trap shooting, competitors move between five different stations, using a shotgun to hit orange clay targets launched from a trap. Shotgun Competitions: Skeet (Men’s and Women’s), Trap (Men’s and Women’s), Men’s Double Trap.
In the five variations of rifle shooting, each marksman takes aim at a very small target, making precision, accuracy and a calm nerve the most valuable attributes a shooter can possess. The men’s and women’s 50m Rifle 3 positions competitions are one of the most popular in shooting because of it’s blend of kneeling, prone and standing angles, and the amount of focus it takes to win. Rifle Competitions: 50m 3-Positions (men and women), 50m Prone, 10m (men and women).
The Pistol category includes five disciplines which apply the same base principles of shooting, with the addition of the rapid-fire category. Competition in the pistol category in the London 2012 Olympics was heavily dominated by the Korea and China, with the United States sitting on the outside of the podium looking in. Pistol Competitions: Men’s 50m, women’s 25m, men’s 25m Rapid-fire, 10m (men’s and women’s).
Athletes to watch
Jin Jong-oh, Korea
One of the most decorated shooters competing in the games, Jin will be competing in two events at Rio, the men’s 10m air pistol and the 50m air pistol. Nicknamed the “Undaunted Man,” Jin is ranked No. 1 in the world in the 50m and in the top five in the 10m. His Olympic resume includes five medals, which includes three gold and two silver. The king of pistol shooting, he’s headed to his fourth Olympics and should be unquestioned favorite to medal in at least one event. He has never missed out on the podium in his first three tries.
Matthew Emmons, USA
The 50m air rifle three positions sharpshooter from Brown Mills, N.J. is a three-time medalist, from the Athens, Beijing and London Games. He will be heading to Rio looking to avenge a mishap at the London games when he missed out on the gold medal by shooting at the wrong target on the last shot. Over the past four years, Emmons has put in the work to be considered the favorite for gold, ranking in as the ISSF World’s No.1 shooter heading into the Olympics. Fun fact: Emmons is married to fellow Olympic shooter Katerina Emmons, who is also a three-time medalist.
Vincent Hancock, USA
Going for his unprecedented third consecutive gold medal in men’s skeet, Hancock, 27, is the overwhelming favorite. The Eatonton, Ga., native, began shooting competitively at the age of 11, and won his first world championship title at 16. He cleaned up for his second straight gold in skeet in London, scoring 148 in his victory. Shooting is in his DNA, and barring a tremendous upset, should be favored for gold again in Rio. If he does, it will be the first time in Olympic history that a man has won the skeet gold three consecutive times.
Kim Rhode, USA
One of the most storied athletes in Olympic shooting history, Rhode will be looking to extend her medals streak to six straight Games. Her shooting journey began as a 13-year-old double trap specialist, and she worked her way onto the top of the Olympic podium at 17 in Atlanta in 1996, which is still a record for shooting. Her career Olympic haul includes three gold, one silver, and one bronze (two skeet, three double trap). Rhode is defending her London 2012 Olympics skeet gold medal, which she earned by scoring 99 of 100 possible points, a joint world record. Her already-unprecedented medals streak could reach 24-years with another trip to the podium—or one year longer than the age of her U.S. teammate Morgan Craft, 23.
Snjezana Pejcic, Croatia
Women’s 50m air rifle 3 Positions sharpshooter Snjezana Pejcic of Croatia is far and away the best in the world at what she does. The ISSF World’s No.1 markswoman has dominated in competition leading up to the Games, setting a new world record in the Rio test event. She scored 594 points out of a possible 600, besting the previous record of 592. The bronze medalist from the Beijing games has momentum on her side, as she attempts for her first-ever gold medal.
Wenjun Guo, China
Guo, the sharpshooter from China, is going for her third consecutive gold in the Women’s 10m air pistol competition. Leading up to Rio, Guo has performed up to her own extremely high standards, claiming the gold at the ISSF World cup in Bangkok. She earned her victory in dramatic fashion, showing her nerve and winning on the last shot. But the World stage gold means practically nothing to her, recently saying she’ll never look at the medal again. With her eyes fixed on Rio, the 32-year-old Guo appears to be prepared to take aim at a perfect three-for-three in on the Olympic stage.
Men’s 10m air rifle—Aug. 8
Men’s 50m rifle prone—Aug. 12
Men’s 50m rifle 3 positions—Aug. 14
Women’s 10m air rifle—Aug. 6
Women’s 50m rifle 3 positions—Aug. 11
Men’s 10m air pistol—Aug. 6
Men’s 25m rapid fire pistol—Aug. 13
Men’s 50m pistol—Aug. 9
Women’s 10m air pistol—Aug. 7
Women’s 25m pistol—Aug. 10
Men’s trap—Aug. 10
Men’s double trap—Aug. 13
Men’s skeet—Aug. 13
Women’s trap—Aug. 7
Women’s skeet—AUg. 12