10 metre air pistol is an Olympic shooting event governed by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). It is similar to 10 metre air rifle in that it is shot with 4.5 mm (or .177) caliber air guns at a distance of 10 metres (11 yards), and the programme consists of 60 shots within 105 minutes for men, and 40 shots within 75 minutes for women. It is also similar to 50 metre pistol despite the shorter distance and the use of air guns, and most top-level male shooters compete in both events.
There are some restrictions on the pistol, and it must be operated by one hand only from a standing, unsupported position. The shooter decides his or her own tempo as long as the maximum time is not exceeded, but in the final round for the top shooters, separate commands are given for each shot so that the audience may follow the progress of the standings.
The major competitions are the Olympic Games every four years and the ISSF World Shooting Championships every four years. In addition, the event is included in the ISSF World Cup and in continental championships, as well as in many other international and national competitions. It is an indoor sport, and on the highest level electronic targets are used instead of the traditional paper targets.
Range and Target
The air pistol range is the same as the air rifle range, giving each shooter a table, a 1 metre wide firing point, and a 10 metre distance between the firing line and the target line. The current rules require ranges to be built indoors, with specified minimum requirements for artificial lighting. Many of the top-level competitions are held at temporary ranges installed in versatile sporting facilities or convention centres.
The target, 17 by 17 cm (6.7 by 6.7 in), is traditionally made of light-coloured cardboard upon which scoring lines, and a black aiming mark consisting of the score zones 7 through 10, are printed. There is also an inner ten ring, but the number of inner tens is only used for tie-breaking. The changing of these traditional targets is handled by each shooter, by means of electronic – or more archaically, manually-operated – carrier devices. In major competitions, only one shot may be fired on each target, a number that can increase to two, five or even ten with lowering level and importance of the competition. Used targets are collected by range officials to be scored in a separate office.
During the last few decades, these paper targets have been gradually replaced by electronic target systems, immediately displaying the results on monitors. When using these systems, actual scoring lines are not printed, but the location of the impact hole (which can be determined acoustically) is automatically converted into corresponding scores by a computer. ISSF rules now require the use of these systems in top-level competitions. They are generally used in other international competitions as well, and in some countries they are even common in national competitions.
To promote comfortable and accurate shooting from a standing position match air pistols must have fast lock times, shoot practically recoilless and vibration free and exhibit minimal movement and balance shifts during discharge. The pistol must also be able to be tailored by adjustable user interfaces and various accessories to individual shooters personal preferences. Combined with appropriate match pellets the pistol has to produce a consistent 10 ring performance, so a non maximal result during the initial phase can be attributed to the participant.
The pistols used are gas-driven with a caliber of 4.5 mm (.177 in). The minimum trigger pull weight is 500 gram (17.6 oz), half that of a sport pistol, and the grip restrictions are similar to sport pistols, but the box in which the pistol must fit is much larger: 42 by 20 by 5 cm (17 by 8 by 2 in). This allows for longer sight lines and also gives room for cocking arms, although with a few exceptions (such as the Baikal IZH-46M) modern match air pistols use pre-filled air, or less commonly carbon dioxide, containers. The maximum overall weight is 1.5 kg (3.31 lb). The pistol must be operated by only one hand from a standing position, and may only be loaded with one pellet at a time.
As in other ISSF pistol events, special supportive clothing and shoes are not permitted. Optical aids are allowed as long as they are not mounted on the pistol, which may only have open sights. Ear protection is recommended by the ISSF as well as by coaches, who sometimes stress their usefulness in shutting out distracting noise rather than their necessity for safety reasons (paramount in other shooting disciplines).
It is each shooter's responsibility to get the pistol and shoes validated in a specific area, the equipment control, prior to starting the competition. Clothing is only inspected during the actual competition. To discourage shooters from lowering the trigger pull weight after passing the equipment control, random controls are conducted after the match with failure resulting in immediate disqualification.
Match Air Pistols in Production
- Baikal IZH-46M
- Benelli Kite and Benelli Kite Young
- Feinwerkbau P44 and Feinwerkbau P58
- Hämmerli AP60
- Match Guns MG1 and Match Guns MG1E
- Morini CM 162 EI and Morini CM 162 MI
- Pardini K10 and Pardini K10 Junior
- Steyr LP 10, Steyr LP 2 and Steyr LP 50
- Tesro PA 10-2
- Walther LP300XT
Course of Fire
Shooters are generally divided into four classes: men, junior men, women and junior women. The junior classes are included in most championships, with some notable exceptions (such as the Olympic Games and the ISSF World Cup). A shooter remains a junior up to and including the calendar year in which he or she becomes 20 years of age, although a junior may opt to participate in the main class instead.
In both the qualification stage and the final stage, all shooting is supervised by a Chief Range Officer, whose duties include responsibility for the correct behaviour of all personnel, dealing with technical irregularities, and cooperation with the jury.
For the qualification stage, the shooters are divided as necessary into relays. Each relay starts with a ten-minute preparation time, followed by the Chief Range Officer's "Start" command, indicating the start of the competition time. Before the competition shots, but within the time limit, the shooter may fire an unlimited number of sighting shots at specially marked targets. Men and junior men shoot 60 shots (within a maximum time of 105 minutes) at all major competitions, while women and junior women shoot 40 shots (within a maximum time of 75 minutes). At minor competitions, there may be other numbers of shots and time limits.
A final is included in most air pistol championships, although not in the World Junior Championships. The top eight shooters advance to the final. In case of a tie for eighth place, shooters with stronger ending were previously preferred, but from 2009 a special shoot-off will be held in these cases. The final consists of ten shots, and the score zones are divided into tenths (by means of a special gauge, in the absence of automatic scoring devices), so that each hit can give up to 10.9 points. After a three-minute preparation time, during which the shooters are introduced to the audience, and a five-minute sighting shot period, separate commands are given for each competition shot, with a time limit of 75 seconds per shot. The final score is added to the qualification score with the aggregate deciding the final ranking. Any post-final ties are broken by a single extra shot.