A History Of Shooting For Fun
By Thomas Johnson
We own guns for many different reasons: for defense, for hunting, and for recreational use to name a few things.
In fact, shooting as a sport has a very long history, and goes all the way back to even before firearms were invented. So long as we have had weapons capable of throwing projectiles over distances, or being the projectiles themselves, we have had competitive shooting competitions.
In this article, we will cover the primary differences between shooting a rifle and a handgun, and then dive into a general timeline of the history of shooting for fun.
Handguns vs. Rifles: Which Are Easier and More Fun?
The difference between a rifle and a handgun should be obvious to experienced shooters. Not quite as obvious, at least for the beginner shooter, is the differences between shooting them.
Rifles, in particular, are easier to shoot accurately and are easier to master. Handguns, not so much.
One reason why rifles are easier to shoot accurately is because they are heavier and longer. More weight in a firearm equals reduced recoil. In fact, it’s possible for a gun of a heavy caliber to have less recoil than a gun of a lesser powerful if that first gun is heavier.
Specifically, rifles have more weight than the force that is required to press the trigger. Hence, they are easier to shoot and to shoot accurately.
Let’s put this into perspective. A handgun may weigh one and a half pounds, and yet require six to seven pounds of force to pull the trigger. A rifle, in contrast, may weigh ten pounds but only require four to five pounds of force to pull the trigger. See the difference?
Furthermore, rifles have a longer barrel and thus a much longer sight radius than handgun. A sight radius is the length from the rear sight to the front sight. Pistols will usually have a sight radius of five inches or less. Rifles, on the other hand, will have a sight radius many times that.
Since shooting accurately means you need to properly align the front sight and the rear sight, a longer sight radius means it is easier to shoot accurately.
Does all this mean that handguns are hard to shoot? Not necessarily. Small handguns, like .380 ACP pocket pistols or .38 Special snubnose revolvers are notorious for having high recoil and being difficult to shoot accurately.
On the other hand, mid-sized to full-size service pistols such as a CZ-75, a Sig 226, a 1911 or a Beretta 92 are much easier to shoot because of their added weight and longer sight radius.
Both rifles and handguns are fun to shoot. Rifles, though, are just a little easier to train with.
It is also worth of note that rifles are far more effective than handguns as well, both in terms of shooting accurately on the shooting range and for defensive use. Rifle calibers have much greater power and velocity, far greater range, superior stopping power, and as we have already discussed, they are easier to shoot already.
In order to be a truly skilled shooter, whether it be for defense/tactical use or for fun recreational use, it is vitally important that you learn how to use both a handgun and a rifle. Don’t be discouraged from using a handgun just because it’s a little more difficult to train with.
You need to become familiar with both general types of weapons and train with both in order to be a truly versatile shooter.
A Brief History of Sport Shooting
The history of sport shooting goes far back to before firearms were invented. That’s because the very first target shooting done for sport was done with slingshots, spears, and bow and arrows. There is evidence that shooting with these kinds of weapons was an official sport in Ancient Egypt three thousand years ago. We know this from hieroglyphics found in ancient Egyptian tombs.
Target shooting later evolved into shooting with shoulder weapons, specifically crossbows. Crossbows were invented in the Middle Ages, and there is evidence that crossbow shooting was an official sport in the various German states during the 1100s.
Four hundred years later in the 1500s, firearms were invented, and those that had rifled barrels were being used in competitions just like crossbows, spears, bows, and slingshots had been.
As far as America was concerned, shooting as a sport literally began after settlers arrived in the New York and frontiersmen gathered together. The most popular firearms of that era were the Kentucky and Pennsylvania flintlock muskets. Frontiersmen and other competitors would shoot at both immobile wooden targets, and at turkeys or other wild game.
Ever since then, target shooting has been one of the largest and most popular sports in America. By the 1800s, shooting matches with a wide variety of different firearms were attracting hundreds of thousands of eager spectators from all over the world.
Trap shooting, which is still popular today, officially began in the 1820s. Whereas today we shoot clay pigeons in games of skeet and trap, back then, glass balls with feathers in them were used.
Trap later evolved into skeet shooting in the 1900s. The primary differences between trap and skeet is that skeet is meant to simulate bird hunting as much as possible. In trap, the clay pigeons are usually launched away from the shooter, whereas in skeet they are launched across from left to right or from right to left.
Today, target shooting remains one of the most popular and prominent recreational sports in America. The Jackson Hole Shooting Experience took this sport forward with their introduction of luxury entertainment shooting by popularizing the term “shooting experience.”
In addition to the emergence of shooting experiences, there are numerous shooting matches available for you to take part in, and even for those who don’t want to take part in an official competitive shooting sport, you can still easily go shooting on your own or with friends either in the woods or in a shooting range.
In conclusion, target shooting is an American tradition, and in many ways, it is a worldwide tradition as a recreational sport. As firearms continue to evolve and develop, so will the many different kinds of shooting competitions as well.