Shooting guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

Your complete guide to shooting ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

2004 Olympic Games, Athens, Greece

2004 Olympic Games, Athens, Greece Photograph: Timo Jaakonaho / Rex USA

Converted: The greatest test of mental resolve at London 2012.

Confused: People who shoot things for a living are not good role models for children, especially in east London.

RECOMMENDED: See our full list of London 2012 Olympic sport guides

Shooting - The essential guide

Street cred: There are few cooler appendages than a gun but few lamer poster boys than Dick Cheney.

Who’s good? China dominated in Beijing with five gold medals, while Italy has a promising crop of young marksmen.

The basics: Events are split into three types of firearm: pistol, rifle and shotgun. In the last, athletes hit a moving clay target as opposed to a ringed target. Competitors shoot while standing, kneeling or lying flat on the ground.

Athlete to watch: American Matt Emmons has thrown away gold on his final shot in the last two Olympic games; in Athens 2004 he unbelievably fired at the wrong target and then in Beijing he accidentally pulled the trigger too soon. Third time's the charm?

Almost useless fact: Shooting included mixed-gender events up until Barcelona 1992, when China’s Zhang Shan became the first woman to win a gold medal while competing against men, after which they were promptly scrapped.

As seen in: Countless trigger-happy epics – though in a contest of fictional shooters, the world champion would still be The Waco Kid, portrayed by Gene Wilder in ‘Blazing Saddles’.

Do say: 'Matt Emmons should take some tips from his wife Katerina, who won gold in Beijing.'

Don't say: 'The only way to bag a classy lady is to give her two tickets to the gun show' *kisses biceps*.

British Olympic hopeful - Peter Wilson

Many people start out in a sport, and then give up. What made you persist?Despite all the setbacks that came along, I kept ploughing on and believing in myself. I think a bit of luck combined with hard work and dedication got me where I am today.

If the monarchy suddenly disbanded, which song would you want played at your gold-medal ceremony instead of the national anthem? ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen.

What's your favourite London spot or guilty pleasure?  I love Covent Garden. You can find me anywhere there – most probably a Pizza Express. I’m a massive fan of Pizza Express.

Who’s your Olympics crush? Unfortunately, I think my girlfriend would kill me if I answered this one. I’ll have to say I don’t have one and I’m very much in love.

What goes through your head while competing? Do you have any superstitions or mental tricks? In my head, all sorts of things are going on – you’d be amazed. If I had to write down all the things that go through my head, you’d think I was mad. But I don’t really have any tricks.

What does your diet consist of, and how does it change when you're training? Clay pigeon shooters in general don’t really have to be the fittest of the fit, but we have to be fit for purpose. So I do watch what I eat. I’m not nipping out to McDonald's every day.

What is the most common misconception about your sport? When you think of shooting you think of major gun crime in and around big cities. But actually, we’re a very, very safe sport.