Shooting was first introduced at the 1896 Athens Olympic Games. Women began competing at the 1968 Mexico City Games in the men’s events. Men’s and women’s events weren’t completely separated until 1996. The program includes multiple events across three disciplines: rifle, pistol and shotgun.
John and Sumner Paine are the most notable American athletes from the 1896 Games. The brothers are the first to win gold medals for the U.S. in shooting events. Pistol shooter Alfred Lane and rifle star Morris Fisher were among the leading U.S. marksmen in early Olympic shooting competitions. Both men won five gold medals in individual and team events in the 1912 and 1920 Games.
Shooting competitions were dominated by the former Soviet Union and other eastern European nations until the mid-1960s which debuted the most powerful U.S. rifle team in history. Athletes included Gary Anderson, Lanny Bassham, Jack Foster, Margaret Thompson Murdock, Lones Wigger Jr. and Jack Writer.
A number of American shooting competitors over the years have been members of the U.S. military, with distinguished careers in the Army or Navy.
Female competitors in the sport have grown considerably over the years. Margaret Thompson Murdock became the first markswoman in history to win an Olympic medal after taking home silver in three-position rifle at the 1976 Games.
At the 1984 Los Angeles Games, Pat Spurgin competed in women’s air rifle and became the first markswoman in history to win an Olympic gold. American skeet shooter, Kim Rhodes, became the youngest female Olympic shooting champion at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. Rhode’s gold medal win at the London 2012 Games marked her fifth-straight Olympics with an individual medal.
Also referred to as shooting para sport, Paralympic shooting was first introduced at the 1976 Toronto Games. The same venues and systems are now used for Paralympic shooting that are used for the Olympic Games.