Road to Paris: 10 meter air rifle, the competition for super accuracy

The latest 10 meter air rifle World Cup competitions highlighted numerous young athletes.

In the games of the first modern Olympics, held in Athens in 1896, the target to be hit with the rifle was at a distance of 200 meters. Then, from the intermediate edition in Athens 1906 and London 1908, 50-meters events were also introduced. Only at the Stockholm 1912 edition two 25-meter events were also held. The individual 10 meter air rifle competition is fairly recent: it first appeared in the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic program, with separate men's and women's rankings. It is a very demanding competition not so much for the range as for the diameter of the target 10 ring, i.e. the center or mouche, which is just 0.5 mm, while the diameter of the 9 ring is 5.5 mm, slightly more than the diameter of the pellet. It is, however, the most widely practised among the Olympic rifle disciplines.

Technical aspects of the 10 meter air rifle: gun, targets, ammunition

A paper target, useful for appreciating the proportions of the center, or mouche, which is just 0.5 mm. For international competitions, electronic targets are used.

The competition tool is a 4.5 mm (.177 in) air rifle, with a maximum weight of 5,500 grams and a free trigger pull weight. As with the 10 meter air pistol, it is a gun that can be owned without any form of licensing in most countries of the world. The lead pellet, weighing approximately 0.5 grams and with a flat head, is propelled by air that is compressed by using an external lever, or through a cylinder-tank with pre-compressed air. Special equipment such as a vest, trousers and shooting shoes are used. The competition is held in a standing position, supporting the rifle with both arms, and with the target at a distance of 10 meters. The size and characteristics of the grip and the rifle itself are subject to numerous limitations. Only "metallic" and non-optical sights, specifically a diopter and gobe front sight, are permitted.

10 meter air rifle qualification and final

The lead pellet, weighing about 0.5 grams, has a flat head.

The qualification in the individual event involves 60 shots in an hour and a quarter. In this phase too, decimal scoring is used as in the finals (the maximum score is 10.9) with ties broken according to shoot-off scores. The highlight of the competition is the progressive elimination "ranking match" in which the best eight athletes from the qualifying rounds enter. The lowest scoring shooter goes out after two series of five shots and one series of two shots; from then on, the lowest scoring shooter finalists are eliminated every two shots. Gold is won by the one of the two remaining shooters who achieves the best result out of the total of 24 shots.

The qualification format is also essentially identical in the mixed team: 60 shots divided into 30 each for both the male and female shooter. The third and fourth qualified pairs compete for the bronze medal; the first pair against the second one for the gold medal.

World specialists at the Paris 2024 Olympics

William Shaner won the 10 meter air rifle event in Tokyo, but did not won a place in Paris 2024.

The men's 10 meter air rifle qualification record is 637.9 and the final record is 254.5, both set by China's Lihao Sheng one year apart, in May 2023 and June 2024 respectively. Just "below", the women's records: 636.3 and 254.0, set by China's Jiayu Han one year apart in May 2024 and the same month in 2024 respectively. More than for the 10 meter air pistol, the results and records follow each other relentlessly and come close to the theoretical 654 and 261.6, i.e. scores of 10.9 for all 60 qualifying rounds and the 24 in the final, a sign that the technical level has risen incredibly, to the point of requiring decimals even in the qualification. Many young and very young people are now entering the world stage and achieving top results.

Hungarian Istvan Peni shoots in all rifle disciplines, always at a high level.

The women's 10-meter air rifle event of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad took place on 24 July 2021. Fifty female athletes from 39 nations participated. The winner of the competition was China's Yang Qian with 628.7+251.8. The men's 10 meter air rifle event took place the following day. 47 athletes from 32 nations participated and the winner was William Shaner from the USA with 630.8+251.6.

The lot of aspirants for the Paris 2024 medals certainly includes Sheng and Han, but not the two Tokyo winners. Lacking Olympic champion Shaner, the US team consists of Ivan Roe and Rylan Kissel (3-position specialists) on the men's side and Mary Tucker and Sagen Maddalena on the women's side. Italy's Danilo Dennis Sollazzo keeps the lead in the ISSF Ranking, just behind him is India's Rudrankksh Balasaheb Patil, winner of the World Cup final and world title in 2022, and also the other Indian Divyansh Singh Panwar, World Cup gold medallist this year in Cairo. Then Austria's Martin Strempfl, Czech Jiri Privratsky, Hungary's Istvan Peni and Zalan Peckler, Germany's Maximilian Ulbrich and Slovakia's Patrick Jani, Japan's Naova Okada and Korea's Hajun Park, Norway's Jon-Hermann Hegg, and Croatia's Peter Gorsa and Miran Maricic.

The podium at the ISSF Final Olympic qualification championship in Rio: victory for 21-year-old Frenchwoman Oceanne Muller.

In the women's field, the 17-year-old Chinese Yuting Huang is in contention with 20-year-old Zhilin Wang, Germany's Anna Janssen, gold medallist in the 2024 Cup in Cairo, Norway's Jeanette Hegg Duestad, England's Seonaid McIntosh and France's Oceanne Muller, 20-year-old Ramita Ramita from India, and Poland's Aneta Stankiewitz.

In Paris, the women's and men's 10 meter air rifle finals will be on Monday 29 July: first the women, at 9.30 a.m.; a few hours later, at noon, the men.

During the weeks leading up to the Paris 2024 Olympics, we will regularly publish articles dedicated to the Olympic Games and shooting sports. We will make you live the Olympic dream until the lighting of the brazier and also afterwards, when it is time for the medals. Stay tuned!

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