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25 meter rapid fire pistol has been an Olympic sport since the first modern Olympics in 1896.  The early competitions were won with revolvers. In the first games, muzzleloaders were required, eliminating the American competitors from the rapid fire event.

In 1896, the American Paine brothers, John and Sumner, restricted from the rapid fire event, won the top spots in 25 meter military pistol and 30 meter free pistol events, with nearly twice the scores of the nearest competitors. They used Colt revolvers.

In the rapid fire event, five relatively large targets are set 25 meters downrange. The targets are 50 centimeters in diameter with a 10 ring of 10 centimeters. The target centers are 75 centimeters apart. Targets at most ranges turn to present themselves to the shooter.  The most sophisticated ranges use lights to start the timed shots, and electronics to score. Shots fired after the time limits are counted as misses.

Shots are fired in strings of five, with time limits of 8, 6, and four seconds. The shot string starts with the pistol held at a 45 degree ready position. Two strings are fired for each time limit. The six shot strings are then repeated.  The maximum possible score is 600 for 60 shots.

In the most demanding string, the shooter has to raise the pistol to eye level, and fire five shots at five separate targets in four seconds.

Video of 2016 Rapid Fire Pistol Competition.

Equipment rules have changed considerably over the years. Over time, equipment became extremely specialized, consisting of heavily ported five shot semi-autos shooting .22 short ammunition, with hand encircling grips. The Russians invented a model with the pistol barrel in line with the shooters wrist, reducing muzzle flip to nearly imperceptible levels.

The equipment race produced a backlash. In 2005, the rules were changed to require a "standard" sport pistol. 

The pistol is required to have a bore line above the web of the hand, to shoot a standard velocity .22 LR cartridge, and not to have wrap around grips, muzzle brakes or ports. Trigger pulls must be above 35 ounces. The overall weight must be below 3.09 pounds.

Fiocchi SM 280 LR ammunition has a fine reputation for 25 meter Olympic Rapid Fire.  At the high levels of the Olympics, absolute reliability and suburb accuracy are a must.

Very few Americans participate in the sport, in part because of a lack of facilities.  Only one range in Arizona is set up for 25 meter rapid fire.  While some exceptional American shooters compete in the sport, only a tiny minority of American shooters attempt it. 


Dean Weingarten

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