Shooting has been an Olympic sport since the first Olympic Games in 1896. It is the only sport to feature in both winter and summer Olympics, in the Biathlon, Shooting and Modern Pentathlon programs.
Shooting attracted the third highest number of participating nations in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games – 100 different countries entered teams.
Where most sports involve speed or strength or agility, shooting calls for stillness, coordination, and concentration, as well as excellent vision and quick reactions. To succeed at the Olympic Games, these skills must be developed to an amazing level and the athlete must be able to perform with extreme precision and discipline no matter what the situation.
Until the Atlanta Olympic Games, Australia had won only one Olympic medal by pistol shooter Patti Dench in Los Angeles in 1984. In 1996 Michael Diamond broke the drought with his Gold medal and Olympic Record in the trap event, to be followed two days later by Double Trap medals from Russell Mark (Gold) and Deserie Wakefield (Bronze). Australia finished 5th out of 100 nations on the shooting medals table in Atlanta.
In the lead up to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the Olympic Athlete Program squad consisted of 48 athletes, 12 of whom were residential scholarship holders at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
Sydney 2000 saw Australia in the medals, with Michael Diamond leading the way with a Gold in the Trap event. Annemarie Forder fought her way to a Bronze in the Women’s Air Pistol event and Russell Mark came home with a Silver in the Double Trap event.
With Athens in sight Shooting Australia initiated a new High Performance Program with the focus on maintaining/improving the medal count.
Target guns used for Olympic shooting events are purposely designed for shooting at the types of target sanctioned by the International Federation. These guns are specifically designed for the sport of Target shooting. These features, plus the very high cost of the firearms, put the Olympic target shooting sports in a category comparable to archery and javelin throwing, and one which is internationally recognised for safety and responsibility.