THE EXCITING HISTORY OF THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
The first ever European Shooting Championship took place in Bucharest, the capital of Romania in September 1955. It is not possible to say how many athletes took part in the Championship but it is known that among the medalists were representatives of 11 counties.
A lot of things have changed since that time: the shooting sport itself, the content of the Championships, the geo-political reality on the continent. That is why it is hard to find exact answers on many historical questions. However, thanks to the assistance of the ISSF and Georgi Nekhaev, a famous statistician and chronicler from Belarus, we are now in a position for the first time to record the complete list of competitions in which the best European shooters took part and identify the disciplines and events that formed the program of those competitions for Men, Women, Junior Men and Junior Women (you can view it here).
The provided data restores the chronology of the European Championships and gives rich food for thought. Here, there is only one question which looks easy to answer: how many countries hosted the European Championships? If we count only those that exist now, we come to one number. If we take in consideration also those that are not on the map of Europe any more, we get another and if we reminisce that in 1962 the Shotgun competitions for the best European shooters were organized in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, and in 1965 competitions in certain Rifle and Running Target events were held in Cairo, Egypt, then we come up with the third result.
One can have different opinion on how many European Championships were held all together. Let us take as example 1963. That year the 50m and 300m Rifle shooters competed in Oslo, the capital of Norway. The Pistol shooters competed in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, and those of Running Target – in another Swedish city, of Sandviken. How many championships were there: one, two or three? And there were a lot of similar examples during the past years.
The most understandable is the chronology of the European Championships in Air Rifle and Air Pistol shooting. The first of them took place in 1969, though, Men competed in Pilzen (Czechoslovakia) and Women in Versailles (France). No Air Rifle / Air Pistol competitions were organized in 1970, but since 1971 they are organized on a regular basis. In other words, we can state that the European Championship in air weapon shooting held in the end of February – beginning of March, 2014 in Moscow, the capital of Russia, was the 45th for this discipline. But, again, there are certain nuances. In 1968, for the first time, and again in 1970 the separate European Championships for Juniors, including Air Pistol and Air Rifle events, were held in Wiesbaden (FRG)...
Now it is time to add some words about the Juniors. As a rule, the Juniors disputed their medals and continue to do it at the same competitions where Men and Women compete. There were only four exceptions before 1984: besides the two tournaments in Wiesbaden in 1968 and 1970 mentioned above, in 1972 the Juniors competed separately in the Swedish city of Eskilstuna (Pistol and Rifle) and in 1975 – in Munich, FRG (Running Target). Since 1984 separate European Championships for Juniors in Pistol and Rifle shooting started to take place. Till 2000 they were held every two years and with the beginning of the 21st century – they are organized every four years. So, in conclusion we can say that it will be possible to restore the numeration of the Championships based on the approach of the 1992, 1996 and 1998 competitions when Running Target events were staged separately from Pistol and Rifle events.
A lot of information can be added to the discussion but perhaps, the time has come to give proper attention to the history of the European Championships and try to establish the sequence, the chronological set up of all the events and the Championships historical format. Especially, because there is an occasion. In 2015, we’ll celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the first European Shooting Championship. That is why we’ll be grateful to all National Federations, ESC Members, veterans and specialists of the shooting sport for any kind of contribution or information to achieve the goal.
Please, send by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org in electronic format or to the ESC Headquarters (Voie du Chariot 3, 1003, Lausanne, Switzerland) by post any archive documents that refer to the history of the European Shooting Championships: logos, posters, photos, articles, memories of participants etc.
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