Arizona  Rifleshooting

Olympic Rapid Fire Shooting

RFP munich

The Rapid Fire Pistol event at a World Cup in Munich, 2005 (Pilk)
(note the electronic targets)

4 shooters at a monthly Rapid Fire Pistol match at PRGC
(note the paper targets)

2 shooters on the line at a monthly RFP match at PRGC

Some form of Rapid Fire Pistol (RFP) shooting has been part of the Olympic games since the founding of the modern games in 1896 (three years after Phoenix’s “Washington’s Birthday Rifle Match” was initiated, more on that in another article, and 16 years before Arizona became a state). It is one of the 5 pistol events currently in the Olympics.

Imagine this: You stand facing downrange, your pistol pointing 45º to the ground in front of you. Seconds after the command “Attention” five targets turn facing you, you lift your gun smoothly to the first target “bang”, come out of recoil to bring your shooting arm in line with the second target, “bang”, then the third, fourth and fifth targets...  in 4 seconds!…. Nothing moves deliberately other than your waist as you turn to the next target and of course, your trigger finger.

Rapid fire pistol consists of shooting at 5 big bullseye targets at 25 meters in several strings of 8 seconds, 6 seconds and 4 seconds. A total of 60 shots are fired over these 12 strings, so a 600 would be a perfect score. Some German guy (from the east) named Ralf Schuman holds the world record with a 597 and 3 Olympic gold medals, a 592 won his gold in Athens.

Problem is, the US has NOT won a gold medal in this event since 1960! What’s going on? We're the home of the 2nd amendment! Americans LOVE our guns! Why don’t we produce as many top shooters and communist countries do? (at the Pan Am games in 2003, the results were: #1: Cuba, #2: Cuba, #3: USA) Well that might change!

The rules have changed over the years. Like most games it became an equipment race, evolving very specialized pistols chambered in .22 short, with compensators and wrap-around grips and very light electronic triggers. You can’t buy such guns at your local gun shop! The International Shooting Sports Federation wanted to put the brakes on the equipment race, so NOW, starting in 2005, only STANDARD .22’s can be used.

The new rules require .22 LR, standard bullet weight and velocity, no compensators or wrap-around grips. Almost any .22 semi-auto pistol except those with very long barrels or dangerously light triggers is permitted!

Schuman & company won’t be shooting Ruger Mk II’s, Trailsides and Browning Buck Marks, but YOU CAN!!! Such guns would be perfect for starting out in this sport!

This Olympic sport is very under-represented in the US. At this year’s National Championships only 11 people in the entire country shot! And TWO of them are from PRGC! Only 8 participated in both olympic tryout matches for this event in an attempt to qualify for last year’s US Olympic team.

So, it is entirely conceivable that a shooter, starting this year, dedicating himself to this sport and training for 5 years, could qualify for the US Olympic team in 2012 (Assuming the US wins the “quota slot” right to send an athlete to the games in this event!).

Rapid Fire Pistol at Phoenix Rod & Gun

Most PRGC members have probably seen the little tiny half-building, near the club entrance off to the left between the High Power 500 yd line and the Range Master’s residence, and not even realized it significance, or know even what it is for that matter.

This is probably the only functional, dedicated Olympic-style 25 meter Rapid Fire Pistol range with pneumatic turning targets in the state of Arizona (Ben Avery shut theirs down years ago and dismantled it, but might rebuild it).

PRGC has a monthly PTO (Preliminary Try Out) match in the Olympic/international shooting events. This is on the 3rd weekend, RFP can be fired on either Saturday or Sunday. We will expand the event to more matches per month if there is interest. (also our state championships will be 17-18-Nov-07)

The PRGC Pistol Division’s International-style shooters want to see this sport grow. To help all of you new to the sport get started in RFP we will hold a training class in conjunction with any of our monthly PTO for any interested new shooter. The class will consist of an introduction to the sport, the skills and techniques needed, the rules, targets and the equipment, a chance to check the zero of the pistol at 25m, and, with one-on-one coaching, try all of the stages, shooting a full match. Those who join USA Shooting will have their scores submitted as part of the PTO.

You will need eye & ear protection, any .22 pistol, a coupla hundred bullets, and a mind open to trying something new and challenging and having a lot of fun! Its a pretty safe bet you won’t shoot a score in the 590’s (and scare off the German and Chinese Olympic teams) on your first time out, in fact, you’ll probably have a few misses and saved rounds in that 4 second string, but you'll have fun and you’ve probably got the equipment to get started.

While Rapid Fire is a men’s only event in segregated Olympic competition, women are certainly welcome to participate in all PRGC shoots too, but there IS a women’s-only 25 meter event in the Olympics, its called “Sport Pistol”: same gun, different course of fire. We shoot that on too on the monthly PTOs and also on the 2nd and 4th  tuesday evening (6:30 till 9 or so) in conjunction with the non-olympic sport of men's international centerfire pistol.

We also have matches in olympic style Air Pistol, Air Rifle, 50m smallbore (.22) rifle and 50m "free pistol", both at PRGC and Ben Avery.

It has been said that Rapid Fire Pistol is the easiest Olympic Sport. All your equipment fits in a briefcase, you stand still the whole time, you only have to lift about 2 lbs, and you only need top performance for 72 seconds.  – See you in Beijing!

pardini sp
Pardini SP

an article about arizonans going for the olympics
in the aug-07 az republic

Last modified by:  Bill Poole (5-Aug-07, 9-Jul-05). (c)
Back to
To Bill's homepage: