Olympic Handgun Events
I got a comment by John Stimson about a statement made in a previous post on High Standard pistols, where I repeated the often quoted statement that High Standard was the only American made pistol to win a gold medal in the Olympics. John, by the way, has put together a very good reference website on High Standard.
Here's his comment:
High Standard was not the only US manufactured pistol to win a gold medal in the Olympics. Smith & Wesson and Colt pistols won Olympic Gold medals thirty to forty years earlier.
Quoting from High Standard's website:
In 1960, Colonel William McMillan won the Gold Medal in the Olympic Rapid Fire competition using a High Standard pistol. This is the only Gold Medal won using an American-made firearm in this event!
So there you have it! High Standard is the only American made pistol to win a gold medal in the Olympic rapid fire event.
Colt and Smith & Wesson must have won some gold in one of the other events. Does anyone have any more info on that?
One thing leads to another, and I ended up on the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit's website, where I found the following descriptions of the Olympic handgun events:
Olympic Pistol Events -- Pistol shooters can choose from five Olympic events, three for men and two for women.I'm not expecting a phone call from the U.S. Olympic Team any time soon...........
With separate events for men and women, air pistol shooting joined the Olympic program in 1988. Competitors use .177 caliber pistols to fire lead pellets at targets 10 meters away. The bullseye has a .45 inch 10-ring.
The Guns: World-class air pistols (e.g., Feinwerkbau, Walther, Steyr and Morini) are air or gas-powered guns that sell for roughly $1100. Trigger weight can be no lighter than 500 grams; the width of the grip and length of the barrel are also limited.
Course of Fire: Men take 60 shots in one hour and 45 minutes, while women have one hour and 15 minutes for 40 shots.
Perfect Match Score: For men, 600 is perfect and 585 is world-class. For women, 400 is perfect and 385 is world-class.
Finals: The top eight competitors advance to a 10-shot final round, with 75 seconds allotted for each shot. The final is scored in tenths of a point and added to the match score to determine medalists. A perfect final score is 109.
Perfect Aggregate (Match + Final) Score: 709 for men, 509 for women.
Last U.S. Olympic Medal: Erich Buljung won the men's silver in Seoul in 1988. U.S. Women have not won a medal in this event.
RAPID FIRE PISTOL
Rapid-fire pistol has been an Olympic event since the first modern Games in 1896. Shot with a .22 caliber pistol from 25 meters, men have eight, six, or four seconds to fire once at each of five adjacent targets. As an added difficulty, pistols must be held downward at a 45-degree angle until a green light flashes on. The 10-ring on this target is four inches wide.
The Guns: Rapid-fire pistols shoot .22 caliber short cartridges (ammunition) from a five-shot magazine. Ported barrels reduce recoil, and the gun's grip completely envelopes the shooter's hand for additional stability. World-class rapid-fire guns like the Walther O.P. and FAS 603 retail for approximately $1200.
Course of Fire: Two five-shot series in eight seconds, two series in six seconds and two series in four seconds comprise a half course, fired in one day. The following day, the same course is repeated.
Perfect Match Score: 600 is a perfect score, with 592 being world-class. Finals: After 60 shots, the top eight shooters fire a final consisting of two five shot series at four seconds. The final is scored in tenths of a point and added to the match score to determine medal winners. A perfect final score is 109.
Perfect Aggregate (Match + Final) Score: 709 points.
Last U.S. Olympic Medal: Bill McMillan won the gold at the 1960 Games in Rome.
Sport pistol has been a women's Olympic event since 1984. Athletes use .22 caliber standard pistols to shoot precision and rapid-fire competition from a distance of 25 meters. The precision target has a two inch 10-ring, while the rapid-fire target has a four-inch center.
The Guns: Sport pistols shoot .22 caliber ammunition from a five-shot magazine without the advantage of ported baffles or wraparound grips, as in rapid-fire. World-class guns for this event, like the Walther GSP, Hammerli, Fas. or Paroini, cost $800-$1400.
Course of Fire: The 60-shot match is divided into 30 shots precision and 30 shots rapid-fire. 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 of rest.
Perfect Match Score: 600 is a perfect score, with 585 being world-class.
Finals: The top eight competitors advance to a final, which consists of 10 shots fired one a time in a time limit of 75 seconds. Targets are scored in 10ths after each shot and added to the match score to determine medalists. A perfect final score is 109. Perfect Aggregate (Match + Final) Score: 709 points.
Last U.S. Olympic Medal: Ruby Fox won the silver at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
Free pistol, a precision men's event, has been part of the Olympics since 1896. Competitors shoot .22 caliber pistols from 50 meters at bullseye targets with an approximate two-inch center.
The Guns: A free pistol is easily identified by its grip, which completely envelopes and stabilizes the shooter's hand. Regulations require only that it fires .22 caliber long cartridges and has metallic sights. The gun's barrel is longer than that of other pistols, providing greater accuracy at this longer shooting distance. World-class free pistols like the Walther and Hammerli typically cost $1000-$1200.
Course of Fire: Competitors fire 60 shots in two hours.
Perfect match Score: 600 is a perfect score, and 565 is world-class.
Finals: The top eight competitors advance to a 10-shot final round, with 75 seconds allotted for each shot. The final is scored in tenths of a point and added to the match score to determine winners. A perfect final score is 109.
Perfect Aggregate (Match + Final) Score: 709 points.
Last U.S. Olympic Medal: Franklin Green won the silver at the 1964 Games in Tokyo.
FOR ALL EVENTS
Clothing, Equipment, Accessories: Pistol shooters compete without the benefit of special clothing, gloves or boots. Most athletes wear flat-soled shoes for increased stability, but footwear must not extend above the shooter's ankle.
Competitors frequently wear blinders over their "non-shooting" eye to prevent squinting. Spotting scopes allow athletes to view their targets in 25- and 50-meter competition. In all events, special caps designed to limit the athlete's field of vision are common; ear and eye protection are a given.