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Olympic shooting at Tokyo 2020: Top five things to know

Want to know when and where the Olympic shooting events will take place at the Games in 2021? The main athletes to watch? And the history of sport shooting at the Olympics? All that and more here.
By James Pratt

There are 33 sports being contested at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021, and the first medal of the whole event will be won in shooting. That'll be on day one of the Games, 24 July 2021, in the women’s 10m air rifle.

But who are the ones to watch? When will the rifle, pistol, and shotgun competitions take place? Where will they be held? And what are the new mixed-gender team events making a debut in Japan?

Here is our guide to the top things to know about Olympic shooting, where you can also find out some key facts and watch highlights from previous Games.

Top Olympic shooters at Tokyo 2020

With 300 competitors taking part at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic competition in 2021, there will be plenty of shooting stars to watch in the 15 events.

Pistol shooter Jong-oh Jin of Korea, the only four-time individual Olympic champ, is already the most successful individual shooter in the Games, and will be favourite to make it gold medals in four straight Olympics. German sharpshooter Christian Reitz will be aiming to defend his Olympic title in the rapid fire event.

Olena Kostevych is an air pistol women’s world number one, who has won almost everything on offer, including Olympic gold at Athens 2004. Back in action after giving birth, the Ukrainian could compete in three events in Tokyo, including the mixed team competition. But she could face stiff competition from Manu Bhaker. The Indian won gold at the Buenos Aires 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG). She has also excelled in the mixed team events, winning all 4 titles on offer in the ISSF World Cup series in 2019 with partner Saurabh Chaudhary.

History will also be made by Nino Saluvkadze, who will be competing in her record ninth Olympics in Tokyo.

In women's rifle events, there are likely to be several new names on the Olympic podium. World champs Seonaid McIntosh from Britain and Pei Ruijiao of China will be among the names to watch.

Following the retirement of three-time Olympic champion Niccolo Campriani, the stage is set for a new winner of the men's rifle three-positions. He'll be keeping a close eye on world number one Petar Gorsa of Croatia, and world champion Thomas Bartnik of Poland.

The Italian has also been helping to train several refugee athletes in their bid to qualify, as part of the Olympic Channel series Taking Refuge.

On the shotgun range, the USA challenge will be headed by two-time Olympic champion Vincent Hancock, who shot a perfect skeet score in the final at London 2012, and looked back to his best at times during qualifying for Tokyo.

Many young shooters will be looking to make a mark on their Olympic debut, including Matthew Coward-Holley. The Briton is world champion in the trap, and was one of the first to be selected for Tokyo 2020 by Team GB, having secured a direct quota spot in qualification.

Olympic shooting competition format at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021

There are 15 events in the programme for Tokyo 2020, across air rifle, air pistol, and shotgun disciplines. Making a debut at the Games in 2021 are 3 mixed-gender team events, in addition to the 6 events for men, and 6 for women.

The full list of the 15 competitions where medals can be won are:

Pistol events at Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

  • 10m Air Pistol - Men
  • 10m Air Pistol - Women
  • 10m Air Pistol - Mixed Team
  • 25m Pistol - Women
  • 25m Rapid Fire Pistol - Men

Rifle events at Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

  • 10m Air Rifle - Women
  • 10m Air Rifle - Men
  • 10m Air Rifle - Mixed Team
  • 50m Rifle 3 Positions - Women
  • 50m Rifle 3 Positions - Men

Shotgun events at Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

  • Shotgun Skeet - Women
  • Shotgun Skeet - Men
  • Shotgun Trap - Women
  • Shotgun Trap - Men
  • Shotgun Trap - Mixed Team

The rifle and pistol competitions take place indoors, with shooters taking turns to fire pellets from a set distance at a stationary target. Points are scored by the marksmen and women depending on which section of the target is hit, marked by a series of circular rings. The closest to the 'bullseye' spot at the centre, the higher the score. The 50m three-position rifle events involve competitors taking aim while kneeling, prone (laying on their front), and standing. Pistol shooters stand, holding the gun in one hand, unsupported. Many competitors wear shooting glasses, and some also have blinkers to aid their focus, prevent distraction, and keep any wind from their eyes.

Shotgun competitions take place outdoors and see athletes take shots at a moving clay target (sometimes known as a clay pigeon), that has been fired into the air from a trap at over 100 km/hour. The single Trap event involves taking one shot at one target that is released from a bunker in front of them, on their command. In the double trap, two targets are released simultaneously. The Skeet competition sees one or two targets being released from traps inside towers to either side of the shooter, with one shot allowed at each target.

During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021, each event will have a qualification phase, with the best performing athletes booking a spot in the semi-finals / finals to compete for the gold, silver, and bronze medals on offer for finishing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place overall respectively.

Athlete numbers and qualification process

A total of 300 shooting athletes will compete in the Games in 2021, split evenly between genders: 150 men and 150 women.

The competitors appearing at the Games in Tokyo have all previously been selected after passing a set of eligibility criteria under the qualification system outlined by the International Sport Shooting Federation (ISSF). Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and cancellation of several top events, the qualification system was revised to extend the time period where shooters could earn points towards the minimum qualifying score (MQS) needed to book a ticket to the Games. Athletes taking part in the mixed team events must also have recorded this minimum score during the qualification period. The qualification pathway includes performances at the ISSF World Cup competitions, and World Championships in each event, and world rankings are also a factor.

Olympic shooting schedule at Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021

The shooting events will take place from 24th July to 2nd August 2021. Here's the full competition schedule (Medal events in bold)

Sat 24 July 2021

  • 10m Air Rifle Women's Qualification
  • 10m Air Rifle Women's Finals
  • 10m Air Rifle Women's Victory Ceremony
  • 10m Air Pistol Men's Qualification
  • 10m Air Pistol Men's Finals
  • 10m Air Pistol Men's Victory Ceremony

Sun 25 July 2021

  • Skeet Women's Qualification - Day 1
  • Skeet Men's Qualification - Day 1
  • 10m Air Pistol Women's Qualification
  • 10m Air Pistol Women's Finals
  • 10m Air Pistol Women's Victory Ceremony
  • 10m Air Rifle Men's Qualification
  • 10m Air Rifle Men's Finals
  • 10m Air Rifle Men's Victory Ceremony

Mon 26 July 2021

  • Skeet Women's Qualification - Day 2
  • Skeet Men's Qualification - Day 2
  • Skeet Women's Finals
  • Skeet Men's Finals
  • Skeet Women's Victory Ceremony
  • Skeet Men's Victory Ceremony

Tue 27 July 2021

  • 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team Qualification
  • 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team Finals
  • 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team Victory Ceremony
  • 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team Qualification
  • 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team Finals
  • 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team Victory Ceremony

Wed 28 July 2021

  • Trap Women's Qualification - Day 1
  • Trap Men's Qualification - Day 1

Thu 29 July 2021

  • 25m Pistol Women's Precision Stage
  • Trap Women's Qualification - Day 2
  • Trap Men's Qualification - Day 2
  • Trap Women's Finals
  • Trap Men's Finals
  • Trap Women's Victory Ceremony
  • Trap Men's Victory Ceremony

Fri 30 July 2021

  • 25m Pistol Women's Qualification
  • 25m Pistol Women's Finals
  • 25m Pistol Women's Victory Ceremony

Sat 31 July 2021

  • Trap Mixed Team Qualification
  • Trap Mixed Team Finals
  • Trap Mixed Team Victory Ceremony
  • 50m Rifle 3 Positions Women's Qualification
  • 50m Rifle 3 Positions Women's Finals
  • 50m Rifle 3 Positions Women's Victory Ceremony

Sun 1 Aug 2021

  • 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Men's Qualification - Stage 1

Mon 2 Aug 2021

  • 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Men's Qualification - Stage 2
  • 50m Rifle 3 Positions Men's Qualification
  • 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Men's Finals
  • 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Men's Victory Ceremony
  • 50m Rifle 3 Positions Men's Finals
  • 50m Rifle 3 Positions Men's Victory Ceremony

* Schedule subjects to change. All timings correct on 16th January 2021.

For the full schedule of events for all sports, click here.

Olympic shooting venue at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021

Shooting events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021 will take place at the Asaka Shooting Range, one of the outlying venues away from the centre of Japan's capital city and around 30km from the National Stadium.

Competition will take place in two locations at the venue, which is situated inside Camp Asaksa, the headquarters of the Japanese Eastern Army and served as the base for Japan’s Military Parade and the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force. The Rifle & Pistol Hall (R&P Hall) is an indoor arena for air rifle and air pistol disciplines. The outdoor Shotgun range will host the skeet and trap disciplines. Temporary seating can accommodate up to 3,200 spectators.

The Asaka Shooting Range is one of the existing venues being used in these Olympics. It also hosted shooters at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, including for the Modern pentathlon competition. The shooting event of the Modern Pentathlon at the Games in 2021 will take place in the Olympic Stadium.

Olympic shooting history

Shooting was one of the 9 sports include in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, and has been a mainstay of the programme, only missing two editions ever since.

Women began to compete at the Mexico 1968 Games, with separate events for men and women first appearing on the Olympic programme at Los Angeles 1984.

The USA are the most successful nation in Olympic shooting, with a total of 110 medals (54 gold), double the number won by second-placed China who have 56 so far (22 gold).

The most successful female athlete is Kimberly Rhode. At Rio, the American three-time shotgun gold medallist became the first Summer Olympian to win an individual medal at six consecutive summer Games, and the first woman to reach the podium at six consecutive Olympics. Already the narrowly missed out on qualification to Tokyo 2020, but has previously spoken of her desire to keep competing, and possibly take part in her home games at Los Angeles 2028.

Jong-oh Jin of Korea is the most successful individual shooter in the games, having won four golds from Beijing 2008 to 2016.

Afanasijs Kuzmins is the sport shooter with most Olympic appearances overall. He took part in 9 editions of the Games from 1976 to 2012, winning rapid fire pistol gold for the USSR in 1988, and silver for Latvia four years later. Georgian shooter Nino Salukvadze will equal that mark with her appearance at Tokyo 2020, becoming the first female from any sport to compete at 9 summer Olympics.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021 are the first to include mixed-gender team medal events.

Who else will be making history at the Games in Tokyo?

You can find out, and get all the latest News about Tokyo 2020 on the Olympic Channel website, apps for mobile and connected tv devices, and via social media platforms.