Greetings, shooting sports aficionados!
Ready to take aim and set your sights on a thrilling adventure?
Load up on our shooting sports list, ranked by popularity.
From sharp-eyed veterans to trigger-happy rookies, there’s target practice for everyone!
Table of Contents
#1 Skeet Shooting
Skeet shooting, a form of clay pigeon shooting, was invented by Charles Davis, an American sports shooter, in 1920. The sport originated in Massachusetts, USA, as an alternative to live bird shooting.
In skeet shooting, participants aim at clay targets launched from two different stations, called the high house and the low house.
Currently popular in the USA and Europe, the sport is governed by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). It became an Olympic event in the 1968 Mexico City Games.
#2 Trap Shooting
Trap shooting is another form of clay pigeon shooting with origins dating back to the late 18th century in England. In this sport, participants aim at clay targets that are launched away from the shooter at different angles and speeds.
Trap shooting gained popularity in the United States in the late 19th century and has spread across Europe and other regions. Governed by the ISSF, it was included in the Olympic program in the 1900 Paris Games.
#3 Sporting Clays
Sporting clays, often referred to as “golf with a shotgun,” originated in England in the early 1900s as a way to practice live bird shooting. In this sport, participants move through a course, aiming at varying clay targets designed to simulate different hunting scenarios.
Sporting clays are popular in the United States, the UK, Australia, and other countries with strong hunting traditions. While it’s not an Olympic sport, major competitions like the World English Sporting Championships are organized by the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA).
#4 Air Rifle
Air rifle shooting emerged in the late 19th century and became popular in the 20th century. It involves using compressed air or gas rifles to shoot at paper targets with precision.
The sport is prevalent in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Governed by the ISSF, air rifle shooting made its Olympic debut in the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Major competitions include the ISSF World Cup and the European Championships.
#5 Air Pistol
Air pistol shooting is similar to air rifle shooting but uses precision air pistols to aim at paper targets. It emerged in parallel with air rifle shooting as a competitive sport in the 20th century.
The ISSF governs the sport, and it became part of the Olympic program in the 1988 Seoul Games. Air pistol shooting enjoys popularity in countries like Germany, Russia, and China, with the ISSF World Cup and national championships being popular events.
#6 High Power Rifle
High power rifle shooting is a long-range shooting discipline that involves using high-caliber rifles to hit targets at distances up to 1,000 yards. The sport originated in the late 19th century in the United States, particularly during the National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio.
Governed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other national organizations, it is popular in the USA, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Major competitions include the NRA National High Power Rifle Championships and regional championships.
#7 Smallbore Rifle
Smallbore rifle shooting focuses on shooting small caliber rifles, such as the .22 caliber, with utmost precision at targets. The sport originated in the early 20th century, with shooting clubs in England and the United States.
Smallbore rifle shooting is popular in North America and Europe, primarily in countries with strong marksmanship traditions. Governed by the ISSF, it is part of the Olympic program with events like the 50-meter prone and the 3-position event.
National and regional championships provide additional competition platforms.
#8 Rapid Fire Pistol
Rapid fire pistol shooting is a dynamic shooting sport where participants compete in shooting multiple targets in a short time frame. The sport has its origins in the early 20th century, with modern variations focusing on speed and accuracy.
It is popular in countries with strong shooting traditions such as Germany, Russia, and the United States. Rapid fire pistol is governed by the ISSF and has been part of the Olympic program since the 1948 London Games.
#9 Rifle Three Positions
Rifle three positions is a precision shooting sport that involves shooting targets from three different positions: standing, kneeling, and prone. The sport has roots dating back to the early 1900s when national competitions began incorporating these positions.
Governed by the ISSF, it is popular in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Rifle three positions made its Olympic debut in the 1952 Helsinki Games, with the men’s competition, and in the 1984 Los Angeles Games for women.
#10 Benchrest Shooting
Benchrest shooting is a shooting discipline focused on achieving extreme precision and accuracy by shooting targets from a gun mounted on a specially designed bench. The sport originated in the United States during the 1900s and has gained popularity in North America, Europe, and Australia.
While it’s not an Olympic sport, the World Benchrest Shooting Federation (WBSF) and other national organizations govern benchrest shooting competitions, such as the WBSF World Championships.
More Shooting Sports
- Cowboy Action Shooting: Originating in the United States in the 1980s, this sport involves competitors using period-authentic firearms and costumes to engage in timed shooting scenarios. Popular in the USA and internationally, the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) governs the sport and organizes events such as the SASS World Championships.
- 3-Gun Competition: This dynamic shooting sport, which emerged in the United States in the 1980s, involves participants using pistols, rifles, and shotguns in multi-stage, timed courses. Popular in North America and Europe, the sport is organized by groups like the 3-Gun Nation and United Multi-gun League.
- Field Target: Field Target is an airgun sport that originated in England in the 1980s and simulates hunting in the field. Participants shoot at metal silhouette targets with various shaped holes, from positions determined by competition rules. It has gained popularity in Europe, North America, and South America, and is governed by the World Field Target Federation (WFTF).
- F-Class Shooting: F-Class is a long-range, precision rifle shooting discipline that originated in Canada in the 1990s. With competitions held at ranges up to 1,200 meters, F-Class is popular in North America, Europe, and Australia. The sport is governed by the International Confederation of Fullbore Rifle Associations (ICFRA).
- Precision Pistol: This sport, also known as Bullseye or Conventional Pistol, focuses on slow, timed, and rapid fire stages to achieve precision shooting with pistols. It originated in the United States in the 1900s and remains most popular there. The NRA oversees the sport, with the National Matches and other regional events as popular tournaments.
- IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation): IPSC, a dynamic shooting sport that emphasizes accuracy, power, and speed, was founded in 1976 in the United States and is now practiced in over 100 countries. Governed by the IPSC, major events include the IPSC Handgun World Shoot and regional championships.
- IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association): Founded in 1996 in the United States, IDPA focuses on practical use of firearms for self-defense scenarios. It is practiced primarily in North America and has begun to expand globally, governed by the IDPA with events such as the IDPA World Championship.
- USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association): Founded in 1984 in the United States, USPSA is the American region affiliate of IPSC and emphasizes dynamic, practical shooting. It primarily focuses on North America, with the USPSA Nationals being a popular event.
- Metallic Silhouette: This precision shooting sport, which originated in the 1900s in Mexico, involves shooting at metal silhouette targets at varying distances. It is popular in North America, Europe, and Australia, and is organized by associations such as the International Metallic Silhouette Shooting Union (IMSSU).
- Muzzleloading: Muzzleloading is a shooting sport using historical black powder firearms, originating from historical reenactments in the United States. The sport is practiced globally, with the Muzzle Loaders Associations International Committee (MLAIC) governing the sport and organizing events such as the Long Range World Championships.
- Airsoft: Airsoft is a team-based shooting sport originating from Japan in the 1970s. It emphasizes realistic scenarios and uses replica firearms that fire plastic pellets. The sport has become popular worldwide, with different organizations overseeing events and competitions.
- Paintball: Originating in the United States in the 1980s, paintball is a team sport that involves using air-powered guns to shoot paint-filled pellets at opponents. It has gained international popularity, governed by organizations such as the National Xball League (NXL) and the Millennium Series.
- Crossbow Shooting: Dating back to ancient China and Europe, crossbow shooting is a precision sport that involves aiming at targets with a crossbow. It has a strong following in Europe and Asia, with the International Crossbow Shooting Union (IAU) and the World Crossbow Shooting Association (WCSA) organizing events and competitions.
- Archery Tag: Archery Tag, a team-based shooting sport that originated in the United States in 2011, employs foam-tipped arrows and bows to engage opponents in a dodgeball-like game. The sport has gained popularity in North America, Europe, and Asia, with organizations like the Global Archery Association governing competitions and events.
What are the most popular shooting sports?
The most popular shooting sports include skeet shooting, trap shooting, sporting clays, air rifle, air pistol, high power rifle, smallbore rifle, rapid fire pistol, rifle three positions, and benchrest shooting.
How many different shooting sports are there?
Our shooting sports list includes 24 unique shooting sports.