Shooting has been one of the most experimental Olympic sports, trying and discarding military weapons, and targets from humanoid dummies to birds and deer. The Sydney competition program includes 17 events in four disciplines: shotgun, rifle, pistol and running-target. In all but shotgun, where clay targets fly from traps, marksmen fire at sheets emblazoned with 10 concentric circles and set at distances of 10, 25 or 50 m. There are variations in shooting position (standing, kneeling or prone) and movement (in running-target, competitors have 2.5 or 5 sec. to track and hit a paper mark).
In the 25-m rapid-fire pistol, reigning Olympic and world champion Ralf Schumann, of Germany, will be pressing for his third consecutive gold medal and 11th world record. A gripping match is expected in the 10-m air pistol between Italian Roberto Di Donna, who won gold in Atlanta, and China's Wang Yifu, the victor in Barcelona. Former International Shooter of the Year Jozef Gonci of Slovakia will feature in the 10-m air rifle. Watch for Australia's defending Olympic champions, Michael Diamond, who scored 149 out of 150 in the shotgun trap, and Russell Mark, victor in the double trap.
All eyes will be on Germany's Sonja Pfeilschifter, the current world champion in the 50-m standard rifle three-position event and former female International Shooter of the Year. She'll also shoot it out with China's Zhao Yinghui in the 10-m air rifle. Another top contender is China's Zhang Shan, who would have welcomed the inclusion of the skeet on the women's program for Sydney. Zhang won gold in the event at Barcelona against an open field, but at Atlanta it was made a men-only event.
WHEN TO WATCH
- 25m Rapid-Fire Pistol Sept. 21
- 10m Air Pistol Sept. 16
- 10m Air Rifle Sept. 18
- Trap Sept. 17
- Double Trap Sept. 20
- 50m Rifle 3 Positions Sept. 20
- 10m Air Rifle Sept. 16