10M Air Pistol

History:

Sport shooting is one of the oldest sports. Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of modern Olympics, was a champion of this sport. As such, it was one of the original 9 sports included in the first edition of the Olympic games of 1896.

The 10 meter air pistol event is the most accessible and most popular event in sport shooting at this time. Together with the 10 meter air rifle it is the entryway to competitive sport shooting.

Although air pistols have existed for quite some time, they have become performant enough only around  1965, with the introduction of the Diana models, and later of Feinwerkbau models. The 10m air pistol event has become a major official competition at the World Championship of 1970 and it is an olympic sport from 1988. Today, the men’s 10m air pistol event is the most popular shooting sport event (counted as participants at the start) followed by the women’s 10m air rifle.

International Shooting Sport Federation:

The shooting sport is governed by the ISSF – International Shooting Sport Federation. The ISSF establishes the rules of all the shooting sport competitions and organizes the majority of the international competitions. It also organizes the shooting events in the olympic games.

Sport shooting has 4 categories: pistol, rifle, shotgun and running target.

Also, the shooting sports are divided in 2 groups: olympic and non-olympic events. Unfortunately, because of the decreasing popularity of sport shooting, the number of olympic shooting events has been reduced a number of times.

The olympic events are: 10 air pistol, 25m pistol, 10m air rifle, 50m rifle 3 positions, shotgun skeet and shotgun trap. In general, each event of shot by men and women separately, plus team events.

ISSF run competitions are of 2 kinds:

  • World cup – it is organized 4 times per year plus a world cup final with the medalists from the normal cups. These world cup competitions are organized only for the olympic events and serve are olympic qualifiers. At each world cup there are several olympic quotas up for grabs.
  • The other ISSF competitions type are world and continental championships. The world championships are organized every 4 years, and the continental championships are organized generally every 2 years. In the world and continental championships all the ISSF sport shooting events are shot, olympic and non-olympic, but finals are shot only for olympic events.

10 meter air pistol competition:

The 10 meter air pistol event, called AP60 in ISSF parlance, is, as the name suggests, a sport shooting event where one shoots an air pistol at a target set at 10 meters.

The ISSF air pistol has a maximum weight of 1.5 kg, must be held in only one hand and the aiming is done by open iron sights. The trigger has a minimum pull weight of 500 grams. The grip must not envelop the hand and it must not touch the wrist, plus some other regulations. The pistol maximum dimensions are 42 x 20 x 5 cm.

The caliber must be 4.5mm and only one shot can be loaded at a time. The projectile must be made of soft lead.

The target can be cardboard or electronic. The target size is 17 by 17 centimeters. The exterior circle of 1 point has a diameter of 155.5 mm and the interior circle of 10 points is 11.5 mm in diameter. Inside the 10 ring, there is another smaller circle of 5mm that is called the inner 10.

The 1 to 6 circles are white and the 7 to 10 circles are black.

The cardboard target is thick cardboard that the pellet pierces and afterwards the jury determine the score visually. The electronic target has a black paper roll that is perforated by the pellet and with acoustic sensors the score is determined immediately and displayed on a monitor.

The air pistol competition has 2 phases:

  • The first phase is the qualification or the match – and it consists of 60 shots fired in 75 minutes if there is an electronic target or 90 minutes if not. Before the official 60 shots, during 15 minutes an unlimited number of test or sighting shots can be fired.

In the qualification, the scoring is done in integer numbers. If the hole made in the target by the pellet touches a ring line, the greater value is considered. So, the maximum score in qualifications is 600 points. If 2 athletes have the same score, the athlete with the highest number of inner 10s qualifies.

      2)   The second phase is the final, where the first 8 athletes qualify. After 5 minutes of sighting shots, all 8 athletes shot 2 series of 5 shots (250 seconds per series). Than come series of 2 individual shots (50 seconds per shot). After each 2 shot series the athlete with the smallest score is eliminated. So, the one that takes the 8th place, fires 12 shots while the 1st and 2nd place fire 24 shots.

In the final, the scoring is done with decimal numbers. The biggest score for one shot being 10.9. In case 2 athletes have the same score after a 2 shot series, there is a shoot-off between the 2. Each fires a single shot and the athlete with the lowest score is eliminated.

A final can only be shot on electronic targets. Not all competitions have finals.

The shooting stand has a width of minimum of 1 meter and the shooting table has a height of maximum 1 meter. The target is placed 1.4 meters off the ground and it must be very well illuminated. The 10 meters are calculated from the firing line to the target plane. The feet of the athlete must be behind the line, but the hand and the pistol can cross it.

Beside the pistol, there are other accessories allowed, but they are also reglemented. Vision devices and glasses are permitted that can cover one eye and enhance the vision in the other. The covering element can have a maximum width of 3cm. Side blinders are not permitted.

Another reglemented accessory are the shoes. They must have a flexible sole (which is tested using a special device) and also it must not cover the ankle bone.

At the start of the competition, all equipment if verified by the jury.


In general, the air pistol sport can be practiced starting at the age of 12. There is no maximum age and sport shooting is one of the few sports that can be practiced at advanced ages. There have been cases where 50 plus years old athletes have reached the finals stage of a world cup. Also, the sport is practiced in equal measure by men and women with the same rules and recently mixed team events were added. Air pistol shooting can be practiced also by disabled persons, which makes it one of the, if not the most inclusive sports in existence.

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