Practical shooting sport in Russian sport system: essential specifications and features


PhD, Professor A.I. Kondrukh1
1Russian State University of Physical Education, Sports, Youth and Tourism (GTSOLIFK), Moscow


Keywords: sport, classification of sport disciplines, basic concepts of practical shooting.

Background. Historical progress of sports movement the world over has given birth to multiple sport disciplines, and the process is unstoppable. At this juncture the numbers of sports vary, as provided by different expert estimates, from two hundred to two thousand. The actual figure depends on whether or not one or another sport discipline is formally recognised; what is the level of this recognition if any; what category this sport discipline is ranked with; whether or not it should be ranked in the specific case; whether or not it is recognised by one or another nation; and many other factors. Some expert estimates of the world sport disciplines may include, for instance, mud runs, ethic jumps over sledge and other rare/ ethnic sports, whilst the others screen them out or leave a few in for some reasons.

In the Russian Federation, recognition of a sport discipline is regulated at present by the valid Ministry of Sports of the RF Order #702 of 02.09.2013 “On the sport discipline recognition, registration with the Russian Register of Sport Disciplines and implementation procedure”. The registration procedure is “governed by the concept of sport disciplines being considered a sphere of public relationship regulated by certain rules with the relevant sporting environment, sport equipment (net of the health protection items) and appliances being subject to registration with the Register” [5, p.1].

As provided by the valid regulations of the Russian Federations, “sport discipline” is defined as follows:

  • “The historically emerged in the sport evolution process specific form of competitive activity classified as an individual constituent of the sporting process” [3, p. 49];
  • “The part of the sports sector with its specific field of public relationship regulated by its rules established as provided by the relevant legal provisions of the Federal Law, with its scope of activity and sport equipment (net of the health protection items) and appliances” [7, p. 2];
  • “The variety of competitive activity with its specific subject to competitions limited by the specific actions and forms of competition (including sport techniques and tactics), rules of competition and performance/ success criteria” [4, p. 426].

Objective of the study was to present and substantiate substantial characteristics and distinguishing specifications of the practical shooting sport discipline in the Russian Federation.

Study results and discussion. Each sport discipline is specified by the following:  “(1) specific subject to competitions and essential athletic activity; (2) specific actions and forms of competitive interactions (including sport techniques and tactics); and (3) specific rules of competitions” [6, p. 321].

However, despite the generally consistent interpretation of a “sport discipline” by the national theoreticians, the national sport science still fails to offer a uniform classification of the sport disciplines. The very basic classification defines the following: winter and summer sports; Olympic and non-Olympic sports; team and individual sports; mass and elite sports etc.

There are a few more specific and recognised classifications of sport disciplines based on the following:

  •  Specifics of the subject to competitions and forms of physical activity, as provided by L.P. Matveyev;
  • Competitive performance/ success rating criteria, as provided by V.S. Keller;
  • Competitive motor skills and leading roles of one or another body system in the competitive success, as provided by V.S. Farfel and Y.V. Verkhoshanskiy;
  • Key regularities of the competitive and training activity, as provided by the “Olympic classification of sport disciplines”.
  • It may be pertinent to mention one more classification based on different criteria, as follows:
  • Type of the relevant economic status (commercial versus non-commercial sports);
  • Generic activity type for the competitor who have selected the sport discipline as the key field for self-fulfilment (professional versus amateur sports).

The present challenges of the sports classifications are due to the following: diversity of the existing sports and their functional statuses; multiple aspects need to be addressed by the classification criteria; difficulties in identifying and interpreting a subject to competitions, essence and content of competitive actions, forms of contests, rules of competitions, competitive success/ performance criteria; and many other identification and descriptive criteria.

It may be pertinent to mention in this context that there well may be totally different and fully legitimate viewpoints on the essential definitions and meanings of the practical shooting sport discipline in the Russian Federation – other than we offer herein. They may not, however, totally replace the key provisions we offer based on a sound theoretical generalisation of the theory and practice of the practical shooting sport discipline in the Russian Federation as provided by this dissertation. Neither they may do without a regulatory foundation that interprets the essential and distinctive features of the sport as the “certain rules (key tenets) of the sport disciplines with the relevant sporting environment, sport equipment (net of the health protection items) and appliances, and regular competitive events” [5, p. 1] predetermine the relevant logics for the research material and arguments.

“Practical shooting was formally recognised as the sport discipline of the Russian Federation by the Federal Physical Culture and Sports Agency Order #411 of 04.06.2006 “On recognising practical shooting as the new sport discipline” followed by its registration with the Russian Register of Sport Disciplines pursuant to the Federal Physical Culture and Sports Agency Order #914 of 27.12.2007.

Objective of a practical shooting competition is to hit a few targets by shooting some firearm (pistol, revolver, rifle or smooth-bore gun) from different distances and shooting positions; shooting being performed indoors or outdoors and limited by some timeframe, power of the firearm and shooting accuracy – with competing shooter(s) striving to score as many points as possible (individually or collectively), the points being computed and summated using a specific calculation formula.

As provided by the practical shooting sport theoreticians and practitioners, valid rules of competitions and competition management codes, the modern practical shooting competitions are governed by the following fundamental principles:

  •  Individual and public safety assurance principle;
  • Three shooting process specifications (power of the firearm applied, shooting speed; and shooting accuracy) balancing principle (also referred to as effective integration principle);
  • Applied competitive design of every set/ combination of the shooting exercises (game plans) with no exclusion tolerated;
  • Shooting mission diversity (singularity) principle;
  • Freedom of practical shooter in fulfilling the shooting mission (in terms of stand, reloading, shooting positions, movements and target hitting sequences “in the order of coming to sight” etc.;
  • Difficulty, quality of competitions and competitive spirit – both in a competitive event and training process. To encourage the competitive spirit, the event organisers will set limits for the power of cartridges obligatory for the competitors and difficulty levels for the shooting exercises.

The practical shooting sport is much different from many other sports by the specific nature of the shooting contest typical only for this sport discipline, with the following aspects:

  • Diversity of the competitive situations affected by multiple and widely variable factors of influence on the shooting process (targets are placed at different distances and variable in sets, groups, relative positions etc. that are never the same in every competition; shooting positions are always changed in competitions; settings of the shooting positions are varied in competitions; scoring shots may come to 1000; the numbers of targets normally vary around 600-700; different weather conditions; and different technical and ballistic characteristics of the guns);
  • Powerful firearms are used with the shooter rapidly moving from one point to the other changing the shooting positions (prone, standing, kneeled, squatted, covered etc.);
  • Individual/ couple (duel)/ group shooting contest settings are offered to simulate actual fire contacts with one or few opponent(s).

It should also be noted that a practical shooter may (in contrast to the other shooting sports) “sacrifice the shooting accuracy for speed staying within the target confines” [2, p. 8] since the competitive success in practical shooting depends on the summarised contributions of many scoring factors.

The above standards of the practical shooting sport require the following for success: high mobilisation of the nervous qualities; intellectual resource concentration; high physical activity; good practical experience; explosive reactions; and many other qualities and skills, to say nothing of the gun control gifts and skills. In terms of competitive stresses, intensity levels, competitiveness, diversity of technical and tactical actions and their possible combinations, the practical shooting sport may be ranked among the leading sport disciplines of the Russian Federation.

Unlike the other shooting sport disciplines that are not so sensitive to the competitors’ physical fitness which is normally restricted by mostly motor coordination, static endurance and alike skills, qualities and factors, the practical shooting sport is highly demanding to every aspect of physical fitness and in its training systems a top priority is given to this training component.

For the competitors’ actions in practical shooting being successful, they must demonstrate fast responses to varying situations, precise and fine coordination qualities, attention concentration ability, good nervous system control under stresses, emotional balancing ability, high willpower and fast thinking ability. On the other hand, multiple repetitions of largely the same technical and tactical actions in the practical shooting process require every quality and skill being highly stable and dependable.

In view of the highly versatile settings, conditions and factors of the practical shooting competitions in the rapidly changing environments, the competitors need to have certain analytical skills to respond to every situation by the relevant technical, tactical and physical actions under pressure with strict time limitations, i.e. apply the most appropriate tools in a timely and efficient manner within their winning strategy and make adjustments to it on the run.

One more specific feature of the practical shooting sport is the technical and tactical specifications of the potent firearms applied by the competitors, including: large calibres of the guns; large powder charges in the cartridges; specific design and actions of the gun parts and mechanisms; high weight of the guns; heavy recoils etc. These difficulties and specifics of the sport need to be effectively countered by the perfect gun control skills and technical and tactical mastery.

A.I. Durnev, for example, mentioned the following with concern to the strong recoils of the powerful firearms: “A heavy recoil in the shooting process acts on the muscles of trunk and gun-holding hand by displacing the joints and increasing the bullet release angle; and the shooter has to apply force to strongly hold the gun striving to offset the deflection by high muscle tension” [1, p. 128].

Many practical shooting skills including the shooting grip on the gun, hammer cocking, trigger pulling, recoil control by a strong hold etc. – require largely or totally different efforts and muscular group actions compared to that in the classical competitive shooting sports. For example, the trigger pulling action of the Makarov pistol shooting in the practical shooting sport comes to as much as 2 kg versus 0.5 kg or less in the classical small-caliber pistol shooting sport. This is the reason for the index finger of a practical shooter being unengaged in the gun holding action for it is used only for the trigger pulling action. This and some other specific aspects of the practical shooting skills mean that the skill building training will be focused on the relevant muscle group strength application in the shooting process rather than the muscular sensitivity playing the key role in the classical bullet shooting sport.

One more example is the Kalashnikov carbine holding technique in the practical shooting sport versus the sporting rifle holding grip in the classical bullet shooting sport in a standing position. In case of the practical shooting, the competitor will “strain every muscle of the shoulder as if trying to cover the butt with the grouped shoulder” [1, p. 128], whilst in the classical shooting this technique is intolerable.

Conclusion. The sport distinguishing specifications considered herein require the practical shooters’ training process being highly integrated and harmonised in many psychological, intellectual, physical, technical and tactical aspects. These integrated training systems and diverse competitive environments, in their turn, are associated with very specific requirements to the technical and material provisions for the sport discipline, with the relevant technical specifications and operational requirements to the sport facilities.


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In the context of the ongoing discussion on the notion of sports on the whole and sport classification criteria in particular, we consider herein some essential specifications that make practical shooting a special shooting sport discipline including: highly variable competitive settings plus many factors of influence on the shooting process (targets placed at different distances and variable in sets, groups, relative positions etc. that are never the same in every competition; shooting positions are always changed in competitions; settings of the shooting positions are varied in competitions; scoring shots may come to 1000; the numbers of targets normally vary around 600–700; different weather conditions; and various technical and ballistic characteristics of the guns); potent fire arms are used in the shooting with the shooter required to rapidly move from one position to another and change positions (prone, standing, kneeled, squatted, covered etc.); individual/ couple (duel)/ group shooting contests designed to simulate actual fire contacts with one or few opponent(s).