introduction to target shooting

Shooting has been an Olympic sport since 1869 and a Paralympic sport 1976.

Shooting is a sport which can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Shooting combines both mental and physical strength. Shooters are required to focus on breathing techniques, reducing heart rate, keeping a stable position whist competing to achieve ultimate accuracy.

Target shooting is one of the safest sports in the world due to high levels of care, attention and safety being maintained at shooting clubs globally.

Shooting is friendly and open sport, whether you’re a beginner starting out at your local club or on the international Olympic circuit, there is always someone willing to help.

how to get started

There are a wide range of .22LR shooting disciplines available to try. Our advice would be to find a local club, try as many different disciplines as you can and find the one that you enjoy the most.

Most clubs welcome new members and people who want to try the sport, often providing firearms, ammunition and equipment for new starters.

To find your local club contact your National Governing Body or Shooting Confederation for information on clubs local to your area.


There are a wide range of competitions that shooters can enter once they feel competent enough, from local club competitions all the way up to the Olympics. The great thing about the sport is that you can choose your own level of competition and compete against others of similar skill. You can even compete against yourself by trying to improve your last score.

what discipline is right for you?

50m 3 positions

50m 3 Positions
50m 3 Positions
50m 3 Positions

This discipline is often referred to as 3P, 3 Positions, 3 x 40 (Men’s) or 3 x 20 (Women’s). The names 3 x 40 and 3 x 20 come from the fact that 40 shots for men and 20 for women are fired from 50 metres in each shooting position: kneeling, prone and standing. It is both an Olympic and International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) recognised discipline.

The size of the target for this discipline from the three ring to the ten ring is 112.4mm with the inner ten ring being 5mm. If a shooter scores a 10.3 and above it is counted as an X. To put this into perspective the diameter of an average drinking straw is 6mm, and shooters are trying to hit the inner ten from 50 meters away using iron sights with no magnification.

In a world ranking competition such as a World Cup, male competitors first enter into the elimination round and fire 40 shots from each position. The allotted time for this event is 2 hours 45 minutes for men and 1 hour 45 minutes for women. Each shot is scored in full rings for elimination points from 0-10 but the X count is also included, for example for Women’s 3P 588 - 37x and Men’s 3P 1181- 68X.

For all ISSF events only 60 competitors go through to the qualification stage. If competitors make it through to qualification they have to shoot another full match: 3 x 40 for men and 3 x 20 for women, and elimination scores aren’t counted. From qualification only eight competitors make it to the final. Quite often there can be a draw for eighth place and a shoot off is conducted for the final place.

the final

The final introduces decimal point scoring. Shots are scored from 0-10.9 and the final starts with sighting followed by 15 shots in the kneeling and prone position, then ten shots in standing. The two lowest scoring finalists are then eliminated. The final continues with single shots in standing, eliminating the lowest scoring athlete after each shot until the medal positions are decided.

recommended ammunition for 50m 3 positions

  • Professional - ELEY tenex
  • Advanced - ELEY match
  • Intermediate - ELEY edge
  • Amateur - ELEY club
  • Beginner - ELEY sport

To view the full range click here

50m prone


Prone is probably the most popular .22LR target shooting discipline. It requires the shooter to lie front down with a rifle positioned in the shoulder and attached to a sling. Prone is considered the most stable and therefore the most accurate shooting position.

Prone can be shot by almost anyone: juniors to veterans, women and men as the amount of physical strength and stamina required is much less than standing and kneeling.

The highest level for Women’s Prone shooting is limited as it is no longer recognized as an Olympic or ISSF discipline. The highest level women can compete in is the World Championships.

The 50 metre Men’s Prone event is featured in the Olympics and other world level competitions.

The event starts with 15 minutes of sighting - a period of time set aside for warming the rifle and adjusting the sights for the conditions. The first stage is a 60 shot elimination match; scores range from 1-10.9 depending on where the target is hit. The highest scoring shooters go on to the qualification round which again consists of 60 shots. The top eight shooters from qualification go through to the final where the scores are reset, following new rules implemented in 2013.

the final

The final introduces decimal point scoring. Shots are scored from 0-10.9 in two series of three shots which must be fired in 100 seconds per series. The competitors then go on to fire single shots in 30 seconds with the lowest scoring competitor eliminated after two of these 30 second shots. The final continues with this elimination format and after every two shots a competitor is eliminated until Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are decided.

recommended ammunition for 50m prone

  • Professional - ELEY tenex
  • Advanced - ELEY match
  • Intermediate - ELEY edge
  • Amateur - ELEY club
  • Beginner - ELEY sport

To view the full range click here

50m free pistol

50m Pistol Men

The 50m Pistol Men discipline is an ISSF and Olympic staple and the most accurate pistol discipline. The event is renowned for the flexible rules on the design of the pistol, leading to a range of innovative approaches and the still popular name Free Pistol.

The pistols used are .22LR calibre and only hold one round. In common with the other ISSF pistol events, it must be held with one hand and not be supported by any other part of the shooter’s body.

60 competition shots at a 5cm 10 ring must be taken within two hours (90 minutes on electronic targets), with the highest possible score being 10.9 per shot. The top eight shooters go through to the final which consists of two series of 20 shots, with places being decided from the 10th shot onwards. Ties are resolved through additional single shots until the winner is decided.

recommended ammunition for 50m free pistol

  • Professional - ELEY tenex
  • Intermediate - ELEY match
  • Amateur - ELEY sport

To view the full range click here

25m rapid fire pistol

25m Rapid Fire Pistol

25m Rapid Fire Pistol is one of two male International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) and Olympic .22LR pistol disciplines. Shooters use a semi-automatic pistol with an anatomical grip and a five shot magazine which enables rapid shots on the target.

At ISSF competition level shooters aim at an electronic target with green and red lights showing when to begin and stop firing. On green each shooter raises their arm from a 45 degree angle and fires one-handed at the target, taking care to complete all shots within the time limit to avoid any penalties.

Rapid Fire Pistol shooters aim at five 50cm targets from 25 meters, with the 10 scoring zone measuring 10cm across. A full course of fire consists of two stages of 30 shots, with each stage split into two repeated series of fifteen shots. Before the beginning of each stage, the shooter can fire five sighting shots in eight seconds. Five shots are then taken at five targets in eight seconds, then another five in six seconds, reducing further to just four seconds for the final five shots.

The six shooters with the highest scores go through to the final which consists of eight additional series, each lasting four seconds, with ties decided in four second shoot-offs.

recommended ammunition for 25m rapid fire pistol

  • Professional - ELEY tenex pistol
  • Intermediate - ELEY match pistol/ match OSP
  • Amateur - ELEY sport

To view the full range click here

25m pistol

25m Pistol

25m Pistol Women is the sole female pistol discipline recognised by the ISSF and features in the Olympics. It blends many of the features of the two men’s pistol categories, requiring 30 precision shots and 30 rapid fire shots fired at a distance of 25m with a semi-automatic .22LR calibre pistol. Each pistol holds a five shot magazine with the same pistol used for both stages of the event. The shooter must stand free and unsupported with the pistol held and fired with one hand only.

The first stage of a 25m Pistol competition is the precision section, where each shooter fires a single shot at a center target 5cm in diameter. They are allowed 20 seconds per shot with 10 seconds rest time before taking the next shot. When the magazine is emptied the shooter reloads and repeats the process five times, making 30 shots in total.

The second stage of the event is the rapid fire section. The shooter again fires 30 shots in six series of five shots, and are given three seconds to fire at each exposure of the target with a seven second rest period in between shots.

The top eight shooters go through to the final which is made up of two further stages. Beginning with five additional rapid fire series of five shots, the top four finalists go on to compete for the medal positions.

recommended ammunition for 25m pistol

  • Professional - ELEY tenex pistol/match OSP
  • Intermediate - ELEY match pistol
  • Amateur - ELEY sport

To view the full range click here



Biathlon is a winter sport which combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, it has been part of the Winter Olympic agenda since the 1960s.

It derives from a Norwegian exercise called military patrol which traditionally used centre-fire cartridges until .22LR rimfire ammunition was introduced in 1978. The shooting sections are held over 50 metres with the competitors aiming at mechanical targets.

A typical competition involves athletes skiing around a cross-country course, with the course divided by two or four shooting rounds, half of which are in prone position and the other half are standing. The shooters aim at five targets and any missed shots incur a penalty. This varies on the competition format, but could be a lap around a ‘penalty loop’ or having a minute added to the athlete’s time.

The rifles used are bolt-action and must weigh at least 3.5kg, the targets are 4.5cm in diameter for the prone section and 11.5cm for the standing. The targets change from black to white when hit, helping both the shooter and the crowd follow the progress of the event. The crowds at Biathlon events are renowned for being very enthusiastic about the sport, encouraging the athletes and cheering every hit.

There are a wide range of competition formats, such as Individual, Sprint, Pursuit, Mass Start, Relay and Mixed Relay. For more details on this sport refer to the International Biathlon Union website.

The ELEY biathlon cartridge is specifically designed for this discipline. It is optimised to work in temperatures down to -20 degrees celsius and has a higher velocity which helps to knock down the targets.

recommended ammunition for biathlon

  • ELEY biathlon

To view the full range click here



Benchrest shooting is one of the most precise disciplines and demands the most accurate ammunition. It involves shooting at a fixed target from a seated position with the rifle resting on a bench.

The discipline is suitable for all ages, genders and experience levels due to the range of categories within the sport. These allow both amateurs on a budget and seasoned shooters with custom-built rifles to compete in and enjoy the sport.

There are two main types of competition: group shooting and score shooting. The former requires the shooter to place five or ten shots on the target as closely as possible. The latter shares more similarities with traditional shooting and asks the shooter to attain as high a score as possible.

Rimfire Benchrest competitions are growing in popularity, although currently the competitions only use the scoring format. The .22LR cartridge offers an accessible entry into the sport while still offering the precision and accuracy that Benchrest shooters crave.

There are many Benchrest associations across the globe but the most recognised is the World Rimfire and Air Rifle Benchrest Federation (WRABF). The WRABF hold the World Championships every four years, and the .22LR classes you can enter are:

  • 50m International Sporter – maximum weight 8.5 pounds (3.855kg) inclusive of scope. This is a 50m score shoot class. Maximum scope magnification is 6.5x. Shooters have 20 minutes to complete 25 scoring shots.
  • 50m Light Varmint – maximum weight 10.5 pounds (4.762kg) inclusive of scope. This is a 50m score shoot class. Scope magnification is unlimited. Shooters have 20 minutes to complete 25 scoring shots.
  • 50m Heavy Varmint – maximum weight 15 pounds (6.803kg) including all devices. This is a 50m score shoot class. Scope magnification is unlimited. Shooters have 20 minutes to complete 25 scoring shots.
  • 25m International Sporter – maximum weight 8.5 pounds (3.855kg) inclusive of scope.
  • 25m Light Varmint – maximum weight 10.5 pounds (4.762kg) inclusive of sights.
  • 25m Heavy Varmint – maximum weight 15 pounds (6.803kg) including all devices.

Unlike ISSF target shooting where you shoot at the same target trying to get the best group, in Benchrest you put one shot on each target, with sighters to the left of the target.

recommended ammunition for benchrest

  • Professional - ELEY tenex
  • Intermediate - ELEY match

To view the full range click here



The sport of Metallic Silhouette involves shooting at steel targets in the shape of chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams, sized to a certain scale and set at varying distances depending on the discipline. The sport began in Mexico where they used live animals until steel targets were introduced in 1948, and it is today governed by the International Metallic Silhouette Shooting Union.

The targets are placed in groups of five of each type and laid out from the smallest target to the largest: chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams. Each group must be engaged left to right from an unsupported standing position, and because the steel target must be knocked off its stand bullet energy is paramount.

Matches have a minimum of 40 shots and can go as high as 120. Ties are resolved with shoot-offs or a reverse animal count which scores the number of hits on the smallest animal to the largest.

Due to the energies required, silhouette shooting traditionally uses centrefire rifles and pistols, but a smallbore variant exists for both rifles and pistols which uses 1/5 scale targets in thinner steel (or even paper) at shorter ranges.

recommended ammunition for silhoutte

  • Professional - ELEY match osp
  • Intermediate - ELEY club
  • Amateur - ELEY sport (target USA)

To view the full range click here



Bullseye shooting is a competition which prioritises accuracy and precision, this discipline inspired the 25m Standard Pistol ISSF event.

Pistols must have at least a five round capacity and a wide range of makes and models are popular for the rimfire competitions. As with any precision event, the accuracy of the ammunition is key, and top competitors use high quality, low velocity ammunition to maximise precision and feel.

This discipline is most popular in the USA and Canada, competitions involve shooting at a 14cm target over 25 yards and a 20cm target at 50 yards. The Bullseye title derives from the fact that only the 8-10 rings are in the black for the slow fire segments, reducing to the 9 and 10 rings on the rapid fire sections.

Competitions vary widely but there can be as many as 90 shots each from three guns, both rimfire and centrefire. Rimfire categories are popular because of the relative affordability and accessibility of firearms and ammunition. In a typical one gun competition of 90 shots, there will be three ten shot strings of slow fire at 50 yards, six five shot timed fire strings at 25 yards, and six five shot strings of rapid fire at 25 yards.

recommended ammunition for bullseye

  • Professional - ELEY tenex pistol
  • Intermediate - ELEY match pistol/match OSP
  • Amateur - ELEY sport (target USA)

To view the full range click here

club shooting

Club shooting

Many shooters begin their passion for the sport when they join a club. These organisations will teach new members the basics of shooting including stance, disciplines, maintenance, and most importantly safety. They are a great way to build up knowledge of the sport and to begin learning the craft and honing your skills. Many top shooters at international level began this way, and still use their clubs to practice and enjoy their sport in a fun but responsible setting.

Safety is overseen by Range Safety Officers (RSO), although it is the responsibility of every member to ensure that the club rules are followed at all times and to be diligent and careful when handling firearms and ammunition.

Club ranges can be indoors or outdoors, with the former typically featuring a reinforced back wall, ventilation and sound baffles to improve comfort for the shooters. Outdoor ranges can exceed 1,000 metres and offer additional challenges to the shooter due to exposure to the elements such as wind and rain.

Smallbore ranges for .22LR calibre firearms are 25 metres or 50 metres in length to match the Olympic and ISSF standards. Clubs often run their own competitions which introduces friendly rivalry and improves the standard of shooting. They also give shooters a solid grounding in the rules and formats of an official competition, and often accompany their members to events.

recommended ammunition for club shooting

  • Professional - ELEY edge
  • Intermediate - ELEY club
  • Amateur - ELEY sport

To view the full range click here

firearms and safety

The most important element in the sport of shooting is the safe handling of firearms and ammunition. Target shooting is largely conducted within clubs and is strictly controlled by firearms safety laws. Anyone shooting in an organised setting such as a club will receive proper instruction and be made thoroughly aware of their responsibilities.

The law on firearms differs between countries but below are a few essential safety tips to help you stay safe when shooting:

  • Never point a gun at anyone and always act as if it is loaded.
  • Lock your firearm in a secure safe or cabinet which is out of sight to casual observers. Keep your ammunition locked in a separate safe to the gun. Store the keys in a secure place and don’t reveal their location to anyone.
  • Transport your gun safely by locking it in the boot of your car, or place it covered on the back seat.
  • Read the owner’s manual of your firearm to understand how to load and unload, how to choose the correct ammunition and how to operate the safety.
  • Before using your firearm keep it in the gun case or slip until you are ready to use it. As you take the gun out open the action to show that it is unloaded.
  • Before shooting inspect your firearm to check the barrels are clear and it is in a safe operating condition.
  • Keep your finger away from the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • Wear ear protection when you or others around you are shooting. Most .22LR shooters don’t wear eye protection.
  • Wash your hands after handling firearms and ammunition.
  • Thoroughly clean your firearm after use.

For further information on firearms safety contact your National Governing Body or Shooting Federation.