EOHC's Guide to Bullseye Shooting

EOHC team members visiting the RA Centre
EOHC team members competing at the RA Centre

For 40 years, the Ottawa Valley Pistol League has been a forum for local, friendly matches between handgun clubs in Ottawa and nearby communities. From October to April, the teams have a series of "home-and-away" matches with each other. The competition consists of half-courses (30 rounds) of standard pistol and centre-fire/sport pistol. The matches involve nominal fees ($2.00!), refreshments, a social side, and the declaration of a League Champion and numerous annual awards. This is the EOHC's third season participating in the league. Last year we viewed not defaulting a match as a stunning success, now we have set our sights higher and aim to get more than 50% of our opponents score! As long as you can fire sixty rounds downrange, you're our kind of shooter! As you can see from the League results, we are there for comic relief, so join us and have some fun.

If you have no shame and are interested in participating in bullseye shooting with the Eastern Ontario Handgun Club, or you have questions, send an email to . The Club hosted a coaching clinic on April 21 for people who are interested in starting bullseye shooting. A member of Canada's national handgun teams was the instructor for the day, so if we don't win this year - it's his fault!!

Governed worldwide by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), shooting is a sport with a rich history of national and international competition. Even before its appearance in the first Olympics in Athens in 1896, shooting at targets has held a certain fascination for those with firearms. Today, shooting, whether it is at the Olympics or world championships, is as well established as any other sport on the globe.

Using high precision firearms, marksmen and women can compete in a plethora of events over different distances and using various types of targets. There are a number of shooting events for men, women or both, but those sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vary according to current trends. Of the 20 or so possible events 15 now appear in the Olympic Games on a regular basis.

Walther Air PistolThe air pistol and air rifle are separate events for men and women. All competitors use 0.177 calibre pistols or rifles to fire lead pellets at a target placed 10 metres away. The bullseye on the target measures 0.45 inches. Each competition consists of a match and a final. Using their specialised guns male shooters take 60 shots in one hour 45 minutes while female shooters are allowed one hour 15 minutes to complete 40 shots. This stage of the competition is known as the match. A perfect match score is 600 for men and 400 for women, with 10 points awarded every time the bullseye is hit. Any score above 585 for men, or 385 for women, is regarded as world-class. To reach a final a competitor must finish amongst the top eight competitors at the end of the match. They will then advance to a 10-shot final with 75 seconds allowed for each shot. The final score is added to the match score to determine the medallist. The maximum score possible in the final is 109 points.

Air pistol shooting is one of the most demanding forms of shooting because the slow moving projectiles take twice as long to leave the gun barrel, thus magnifying any mistakes in your technique by a factor of x2. Because of the very low cost of even match grade pellets, airgun competition is one of the cheapest forms of target shooting, over the long term. Be sure to check the airguns page, for the latest news on the legal status of airguns in Canada.

An Olympic event since the first modern Games in 1896, the rapid-fire pistol event is shot with a 0.22 calibre pistol from 25 metres. Male shooters are given eight, six or four seconds to fire once at five neighbouring targets. Pistols must be held down at a 45-degree angle until a green light flashes. The bullseye, worth 10 points, is four inches wide. The competition occurs over two days with three stages repeated on each day. The first stage is a two five-shot series with eight seconds per shot, the second, a two five-shot series with six seconds per shot, and the third, a two five-shot series with four seconds per shot. Thus a maximum of 600 points can be scored with 592 regarded as a world-class score. As in the air pistol competition the top eight shooters will go through to a final to determine the medal winners.

Walther KSP PistolSport pistol is a primarily female event that uses a 0.22 calibre standard pistol to shoot precision and rapid-fire targets from a distance of 25 metres. A precision target has a two-inch bullseye, while the rapid-fire target has a four-inch core. Again, in major events, the competition consists of a match and a final. The 60-shot matches are split into stages of precision and rapid-fire shooting. Thirty shots are taken in each stage. The precision, or slow-fire stage, is fired in six series of five shots, and competitors have six minutes per series. In the 30-shot rapid-fire stage, competitors shoot strings of five shots. Three seconds are allotted for each shot, followed by seven seconds rest.

Steyr Free PistolThe final Olympic pistol event is the free pistol and is a precision male event using a 0.22 calibre single shot pistol shot from 50 metres at bullseye targets with a two-inch centre. Scoring occurs as in other events. As you can see from the picture to the left, free pistols are quite exotic looking and when it comes to price their name is an oxymoron (although used TOZ-35 free pistols can be found for as little as $400). Apart from the aforementioned Olympic events men can also compete in standard pistol and centre-fire pistol shoots in the world championships.

A Gold Olympic Medal in Sport Pistol was won by Linda Thomm of Ottawa at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

Bullseye Target Shooting Web Links

Visit the Target Shooting Canada website
  • Match Schedule - Ottawa Valley Pistol League
  • ISSF - International Shooting Sport Federation
  • Bullseye shooting - info on bullseye pistol shooting
  • Army Marksmanship Unit Pistol Training Guide.
  • Interviews with Champion Shooters
  • The Hitchhikers Guide To Shooting Glory
  • Target Talk - discussion board for Olympic Style shooting
  • Pistol Sight Adjustment Instructions
  • Free pistol - a short description by Steve Kelly
  • OVPL - Ottawa Valley Pistol League
  • Target Shooting Links - covers a wide range of events
  • Target Shooting Webring

This page was updated on 5/3/2007 2