The 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 75 minutes for men, and 40 shots within 50 minutes for women. If Electronic Scoring System (EST) is not available, additionally 15 minutes for men and 10 minutes for women are added to the time limit. Preparation and sighting time of 15 minutes is the same for both men and 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.
The distance from floor level to the centre of the target is 1400mm +/- 50mm.
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.
For the 10 metre air pistol and air rifle disciplines match diabolo pellets are used. These pellets have wadcutter heads, meaning the front is (nearly) flat, that leave clean round holes in paper targets for easy scoring. Match pellets are offered in tins and more elaborate packagings that avoid deformation and other damage that could impair their uniformity. Air gunners are encouraged to perform shooting group tests with their gun clamped in a machine rest to establish which particular match pellet type performs best for their particular air gun. To facilitate maximum performance out of various air guns the leading match pellet manufacturers produce pellets with graduated "head sizes", which means the pellets are offered with front diameters from 4.48 mm up to 4.51 mm.
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.
The following air pistols are in production as of 2013:Baikal IZH-46M
Benelli Kite and Benelli Kite Young
Feinwerkbau P44 and Feinwerkbau P58
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 10E, Steyr LP 2 and Steyr LP 50; new addition - Steyr EVO 10
Tesro PA 10-2
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 21 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. 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 50 seconds per shot. Starting from 2013, the final consists of 2 strings of 3 shots, after which for every two additional shots, the lowest scoring finalist will be dropped. This continues until only two finalists left making the final two shots for the gold. Hence the last two men would have 20 shots in total. Due to this new rule, all pre-2013 finals record will be erased. The ISSF announced that all finals from 2017 onward will have an additional 2 shots per initial string for a total of 24 shots fired in the final. The current record of 2013 will be considered as provisional, until the end of 2013 which the ISSF will decide whether to scrap the final record altogether from then on, or keep them. 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.
The air pistol event was introduced on the World Championship level in 1970, and on the Olympic programme in 1988. Before 1985, when finals began to be used, championships were decided by the results of the 40 or 60 shot match. Before 1982, the men's programme also consisted of 40 shots.
As in many other ISSF events, the target for air pistol was reduced in size in 1989, also lowering the scores (although not by much), and thereby resetting all records. The development after this shows a contrast to that of air rifle shooting: whereas in air rifle the winning score of the 1989 World Championships would not have reached the final 17 years later, the same result increase has not occurred in air pistol, and Sergei Pyzhianov's world record of 593 points, set in the first World Cup Final with the new targets, remained unbeaten for almost 20 years.
Although competitions are no longer held outdoors, the most important competitions (Olympics, World Championships, World Cups) are still scheduled for the Northern Hemisphere summer season because they are combined with outdoor events. Many lesser international events, however, are held during the European indoor season between October and March, culminating in the European Championships each year. Most of these competitions are multi-day events held together with air rifle matches.
The ISSF publishes lists of historical champions.
A green background indicates the Olympic champion.
A green background indicates the Olympic champion.