Road to Paris: 50m Rifle 3-Positions, the most technical shooting event at the Paris Olympic Games 2024

The kneeling position is the most technically difficult. Very particular, the stiff clothing that includes padding, glove, straps.

The Rifle 3-Position is an event where .22 LR rifles are fired over a distance of 50 meters. It is the "miniature" version of the old 300-meter event and is the Olympic shooting competition fired at the longest range, with the longest duration (although it has been repeatedly "cut down" in recent years) and with the greatest technical implications due to the three shooting positions.

It made its Olympic debut in Helsinki in 1952 for males, although the first "similar" Olympic event already took place in Athens 1906, and in 1984 in Los Angeles for women.

Rifle 3-Positions: a very long event

Athletes shoot at electronic targets in international events: here the young Swede Victor Lindgren.
Switzerland's Nina Christen won at the Tokyo Olympics 2021.

In the qualification round, 60 shots are fired by both male and female athletes: 20 in kneeling position, 20 prone and 20 standing in a total time of 1 hour and 30 minutes. In this phase score is made of integer points. The top eight ranked shooters, who do not carry any scores from the qualification, advance to the final match. Then up to 45 shots are fired: 15 in a kneeling position, 15 in a prone position and 15 in a standing position. Shots in the kneeling position are fired in series of five, each within 200 seconds; and shot in the prone position are fired in series of five, each within 150 seconds. The first ten shots of the standing series are fired in series of five, each within 250 seconds. At the end of the second series, the shooters with the two lowest scores are eliminated in 8th and 7th place. The five final single shots are fired on command and within 50 seconds each. After each single shot, the athlete with the lowest ranking is eliminated and ranked from 6th to 3rd place. The final 45th shot decides the gold and silver medals. If there is a tie for the lowest ranking athlete to be eliminated, the tie will be broken by one or more additional shoot-off shots. The final score is made of decimal points, with the maximum score per shot being 10.9 points and the maximum score of the final round being 490.5 points.

Target and equipment

Italian Niccolò Campriani won in London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016, retiring from competition the following year.

Diameter of the 10 ring is 10.4 mm: tiny, like a one-cent euro coin. Diameter of the 9 ring is 26.4 mm, while the diameter of the entire target is 154.4 mm. For aiming, a diopter and front sight are used. The rifle is futuristic, has a fully adjustable and customisable stock, even in balance. It must not weigh more than 8 kg and specific jackets, trousers, gloves and footwear can be used to improve positional stability. Also a padding for the kneeling position. In the moments before or after the event, shooters move in a curious way, as if they were robots, because their competition clothing is stiff and they use straps to maintain the most stable position possible.

Records and personalities of the Rifle 3-Positions

The rifle for the 3-Positions event is futuristic, has a fully adjustable and customisable stock, even in balance.

The qualification round record is currently held by China's Linshu Du (597) and dates back to 2023, while the final round record is held by another Chinese, Yukun Liu (468.9), set a few months ago at the World Cup in Baku (AZE). In the women's field, the qualification round record is shared at 596 by Norway's Jenny Stene (2022) and USA's Sagen Maddalena (2023). That of the final round, 469.6, by India's Sift Kaur Samra. Historic champions of the discipline are England's Malcolm Cooper, gold in Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988, France's Jean-Pierre Amat, gold in Atlanta 1996, Slovenia's Raymond Debevec, gold in Sydney 2000, and Italy's Niccolò Campriani, gold in London 2012 and Rio 2016. Among the women, special mention for Russia's Ljubov' Galkina, who beat Italy's Valentina Turisini and China's Wang Chengyi for gold in Athens, and the Czech Kateřina Kurkova, silver medallist in Athens, daughter of Peter, also an Olympic shooter, and wife of US shooter Matthew Emmons, gold medallist in Athens in the same discipline.

The Feinwerkbau KK2800 Xchange rifle for 3-Positions athletes allows the rear of the stock to be quickly adjusted, saving valuable competition time.

In the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, 21-year-old Changhong Zhang from China won the gold medal, but he has not scored in two years. In the women's competitions, the reigning Olympic champion is Switzerland's Nina Christen. The choice of candidates for the Paris 2024 medals is difficult. Among women, the favourites seem to be the Norwegians Jeannette Hegg Duestad and Jenny Stene, who command the ISSF ranking, the aforementioned Christen and Maddalena, Germany's Anna Janssen and China's Qiongyue Zhang. On the men's side, we spend some predictions on Czech Jiri Privratsky, currently leading the ISSF ranking, Norway's Jon-Hermann Hegg, China's Liu and Linshu Du, and India's Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar.

However, some shooters who will compete in 10m Air Rifle will also be able to participate in the Paris event.

The finals of the men's 50m Rifle 3-Positions event will be held on Wednesday, 31 July, with the final on the following day, 1 August, which is also the women's qualification day, while the women's final is scheduled for the day after that, 2 August, at the  Centre National de Tir Sportif (CNTS) shooting range in Châteauroux-Déolentre.

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