South African Pistol Federation       

Free Pistol

ISSF EVENTS Standard Pistol Sport Pistol Center Fire Free Pistol Olympic Rapid Fire Air Pistol


Free Pistol

The ISSF 50m Pistol event is the pinnacle of precision pistol competition in the world. The shooter is given plenty of time and the rules are very liberal, without allowing technology to usurp shooter skills.


  • Sixty shots must be fired in 2 hours
  • The pistol must have open sights and be loaded one shot at a time.
  • The shooter must shoot one handed and use the same hand to support and trigger the gun.
  • The grip cannot touch beyond the hand; i.e. the wrist must be visibly free when the pistol is held in the normal firing position.
  • The shooter cannot wear clothing that offers additional support.
  • Of course there are many more details but that summarizes the spirit of the rules.


In the 50m Pistol event, shooters may take an unlimited number of Sighting Shots before they start shooting for record. Once the first Record Shot is fired, the shooter cannot take any more sighting shots. The only exceptions are rare instances when there is a gun malfunction that cannot be fixed on the line or the range is shut down for some reason.

Shooters can take as much time as they like within the time limit. They may shoot at their own pace. They may take breaks as they wish. Shooters may Dry Fire at anytime from the start of the Preparation Period until the match time limit has expired.

International and Major matches are typically fired on Electronic Targets. When Electronic targets, or automatic target changers for paper targets are used the shooters are given the full time limit without interruption. The shooter can fire as many sighting shots as desired and when ready press a button to start Shooting for Record. If the match is divided into two or more segments to facilitate target changing, the time segments for shooting still total two hours.

When electronic targets or automatic target changers are not available, the time limit will typically be divided into smaller segments and Paper Targets will be changed between time periods. In this case shooters are typically given one time period for sighter shots, then the entire line changes targets and starts shooting for record. Sometimes two or more targets will be hung and a longer time interval used. In this case shooters may be given one sighter target and one (or more) record target for the first time inteval.

Range Commands

Preparation Time Begins now
after 10 minutes

10 minutes before the completion of shooting time

10 minutes
5 minutes before the completion of shooting time

5 minutes
at the completion of shooting time

Any Malfunctions

50m / Free Pistols Specification

Almost any .22LR pistol that has open sights can be used in a Free Pistol competition and some very good scores have been fired with Standard Pistols. Pistols used for this event must conform to the ISSF Free Pistol Specification, which covers such items as sights, and grip styles. One point to note is that only one shot may be loaded at a time.


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Last modified: 10/29/17