Olympic Pistol Dueling?

Apparently, before any of us were born, the 1906 Olympics had dueling pistols as an Olympic event. The shooters used wax bullets but no gun powder. Instead the primer was all they needed to propel the wax bullet. Like fencing, the athletes wore a mask and a handguard was fitted to the gun in order to protect the shooter’s hand. Looking at the photos below, the two competitors seem to be decent distance apart from one another. That does look a bit challenging. The current IOC could bring this back with airsoft or even simmunition equipped handguns.

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Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


  • Giolli Joker

    This is kinda cool.
    Never heard about it, nice!

  • Tritro29

    Along with Pigeon shooting. Real birds, real buckshot. Also 1906 games in Athens weren’t proper Olympics, but the Duelling came back in 1912. Needless to say, it never came back, because of you know what;

    • AndyHasky

      Are you saying they should use buckshot to shoot clay pigeons?

      • Tritro29

        Nope I was saying that instead of wax, as in the dueling case, they were using lethal ammunition. Which is cruel and retarded.

        • Tassiebush

          I’d actually be fine with it if they did something with the pigeons (which they probably did). It ain’t cruel if you kill em quickly and it’d be interesting to see how killing birds might possibly change who was good at it.

          • Tritro29

            300 birds used were mostly taken out once on the ground. According to era newspapers there was blood feathers and bird crap everywhere and the stench was unbearable. Other times for sure.

          • Tassiebush

            Haha what a mental image! Well the mess and issues of non flight would probably be good reasons for clay birds then. Sounds like I have to cede this one to the progressives 😉

          • Tritro29

            I think the firing sound from the batteries must have totally disoriented the birds and stressing them to “crap” everywhere while bouncing like mad. Clearly not a pretty view.

          • Tassiebush

            A shi7ty view in fact! it makes me contemplate getting an air horn to set off seagulls at the beach though.

    • Tassiebush

      I think you mean birdshot. Yep they sure did

  • BattleshipGrey

    I don’t think airsoft would be a good recreation. If the 1906 versions are rifled, they’d probably be much more consistent. If wax projectiles were good enough for 1906 competitors then we could man-up and do the same.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Expecting what passes for “men” these days to “man up and do the same” is asking a lot.
      I mean, they might break a nail, or suffer a bruise.

      • iksnilol

        To be fair, breaking a nail hurts.

        Double so if you have to pull it out (learned that the hard way with a pair of pliers, it grew out so that’s nice).

        • jcitizen

          Especially since legend has it – the Japanese were infamous for using nails as a main torture target. Just tap some bamboo in there and – well – I think you get the drift.

          • iksnilol

            Oh yeah, that does sound nasty.

            What I am trying to get at is that breaking a nail isn’t some piddly, injury that you should just shrug off due to testosterone.

      • Amplified Heat

        Uh, that one gymnast broke his freaking leg in half on global television…

        …and all the others are destroying their bodies physically & mentally for little pay (for the most part)

        • Phillip Cooper

          Please specify exactly where I said that ALL modern “men” are pansies. Or specifically any of the athletes competing (wasn’t talking about them).
          In the first case, I would just say most modern “men” are beta males at the best, pansies more like it. As with any general group there are exceptions- glaring generalizations being exactly that. But there is also truth in them when taking the group as a whole.
          The average guy these days can’t change a battery in his car, or change wiper blades, let alone engage in more masculine pursuits with skill (handling weapons, marksmanship, taking care of himself/loved ones, building or repairing things, etc). It’s a side effect of what women have been saying they wanted- “sensitive men”. But this is an entirely other discussion.

          • Bob

            Talk of changing car batteries always amuses me. My mother took her 2000 something or another to a “good old boy” mechanic then went a week without it because he had no clue about modern anti theft measures that treat the disconnection of the battery as an attempt to take the car. Made me glad I own a ’98 that just erases my saved radio stations when I do that.

          • Bob

            Also, remember the scene from Six Days, Seven Nights with Harrison Ford and What’s her face. Paraphrased from memory:
            “I thought that’s what women wanted, a man in touch with his feelings.”
            “Not when they’re being chased by pirates! Then they want ’em mean and armed!”

            Not my kind of movie, but there are some good lines in it.

    • Waxed bullets are actually really nasty; substantially worse than simunitions. You’d very likely see broken fingers if you got tagged in the hands with one.

      • Phillip Cooper

        But these aren’t “waxed” bullets. They are “wax” bullets.
        IE, not bullets, which have been covered with wax. Bullets, made entirely of wax.
        No, I won’t let you shoot me with one. Because I won’t let you point a gun at me.

        • I was referring to bullets made entirely of wax,

      • Devil_Doc

        I have a little bit of experience with wax bullets. Yes, they really hurt, especially at close range. No, they wont break fingers.

        • Interesting, did you get shot in the hand?

          Back when paintball was being developed as a sport, they ended up settling on 300fps as the upper speed limit as above that the risk of breaking fingers was pretty high.

          • Devil_Doc

            No. I got shot in the ass. Twice. Once with a 5.56, once with a 45 colt. The 45 felt like the mother of all wet towel slaps, but the 5.56 went through my rear pocket, pants and boxers, and gave me a scar. But I still don’t think it would break a finger bone.

  • Riot

    Now that I might watch.

    Could use paint projectiles and some padded clothing.

    • Edeco

      Or electronic score sensing like fencing; traditional dueling could require a heart hit to score while Western could reward gut shots as well

    • De Facto


      • Holdfast_II

        Yup, it needs to be at least somewhat painful.

  • Bill

    Hey, fencing is just glorified dueling and sword fighting, and there plenty of martial arts in the Olympics, like Judo and the Modern Pentathlon, for modern cavalry officers.

    • noob

      I wonder if the postmodern cavalry officer would strap on a laser scoring system for some Olympic Sensha-Do (literally “Tankery”) like in GIRLSundPANZER?

      • Bill

        Look up “tank biathlon ” on YouTube

        • noob

          That is all kinds of awesome! an olympic sport I’d love to see.

      • CavScout

        Can’t help but notice women are allowed to do the modern Pentathlon, which makes no sense if it’s based on the Cavalry officer.

        • bjensen

          Sexist much…

          If you want traditional in the olympics, then it should only be males and they should be competing nude

    • Amplified Heat

      So much more noble & dignified to run your opponent through with a rapier, mind you. Napoleon was certainly right about artillery & dignity.

      • comatus

        Frederick the Great said that. The Corsican was a pimp.

  • valorius

    Coolest olympic sport ever.

  • valorius

    According to 5 minutes of research, the duelists shot at a dummy in a trench coat.

    • Iggy

      But why the armour?

      • Rick O’Shay

        In case the dummy shoots back.

        • Marc

          Dummy? Those are two competitors shooting at each other.

    • Jonathan Ferguson

      At the 1906 Intercallated Games (unofficial, not actually the Olympics) the competitors did shoot at each other wearing the gear shown. It was demonstrated, but not competed, at the 1908 Olympics. At the 1912 Games they fired at target dummies.

      Beyond this, the system was a glorified parlour game. We have a set of the pistols here at the Royal Armouries.

      • valorius

        Neat 🙂

      • Julio

        Should that not be “glorious parlour game”? : )

  • ontheleftcoast

    Add fast draw to the mix…

    • Edeco

      Yep, Western (movie) style dueling in addition to, erm… the Hamilton/Burr kind.

    • Harry’s Holsters

      People would watch that!

      • Kevin Riley

        Start preparing for the 2020 Redneck Olympics.

        • JamesG3

          Sounds like a “History” Channel reality show.

  • William Nelson

    Finally! An olympic sport that my fat, old self could do!

    • Phillip Cooper

      Ditto. I’ll get the wax…

  • Tim Barrera

    This is awesome! They need to bring it back! FWIW, I shoot powderless glue rounds instead of wax with my .455 Webley as I can re-prime the casings indefinitely as the pressure is so low I have no need to resize/replace the brass. I’ll have to do some ranged accuracy testing though as the weight is so low I think accuracy at the distances they are shooting would be hard to acheive…

  • Ben Loong

    I can’t help but wonder how the scoring for this would even work. Conceptually, there’s little difference to getting hit by a projectile a fraction of a second after your opponent.

    In regular fencing you can at least dodge and parry your opponent’s strikes. You can’t do that with bullets.

    • ostiariusalpha

      You can parry in fencing, but due to its non-lethal nature and fast pace, most strikes are mutual with points awarded to the fencer that hits a scoring target a millisecond before their opponent does. As you go up in the weight divisions, from foil, to épée, to sabre, you tend to see more realistic parrying, but even a “sabre” is lighter than a historical fast dueling rapier.

      • Bill

        They need that German collegiate fencing were they wore steel googles, stood still and beat each other in the face and head with swords.

        Chicks dig scars.

      • janklow

        “weight divisions?”

        • ostiariusalpha

          Of the blades.

          • janklow

            still kind of confused by the term, partly because i’ve never heard it broken down that way, and partly because i’ve never heard someone call an epee lighter than a sabre.

            willing to bet you could thread the needle and make an epee light enough to be comparable, and maybe i am biased because i know my epees are heavier than my sabres, but still.

            i take your larger point above, by the way.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Ha ha, yes, that was my mistake. I was thinking of a size 2 épée instead of the full-sized, adult épée.

    • Tom

      I imagine they ether took it in turns to fire or if both fired at the same time it was judged based on the area of impact.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    I know that all games are simply a microcosm of war but im not sure it would be a good idea to have countries like Iran and Israel literally shooting at each other.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      Can you get your “logic” and “reasoning” out of my fantasy comment section? This is a safe space.

      • TheNotoriousIUD


    • crackedlenses

      I have heard war being referred to as the ultimate game by a Marine Lt. dealing with celebratory gunfire in Iraq during the 2004 Olympics.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        All depends on your POV I suppose.

    • KestrelBike

      Israel juices & sends in an F16 for the Gold!

  • Xtorin O’hern

    it would be freaking awesome if “Team Simmunition” became a thing in the olympics

  • Richard

    They should use the magnum research BFR for the duel if they brought this back

  • Hurri Cane

    IOC would probably frown on people actually shooting at each other. Solution, dueling tree! Get one rigged for .22 LR and you could still use you 25m rapid fire pistol, you’d just need a race gun holster to fit.

  • Joseph Goins

    Could they bring it back? Yes.
    Will they bring it back? No.

    • eriky

      should they bring it back? TOTALLY!

      • Joseph Goins

        Only if they get rid of the wax.

      • Joseph Goins

        I wish that this is how presidential elections could be decided. Democrats would lose every time as they don’t know how to use guns. Unfortunately, that might mean James Yeager could be our leader…..

        • Bill

          I’m your huckleberry…

        • eriky

          Hmmm don’t overestimate Chuck Yeager. I think he’s nothing more than a loudmouth.
          I think we’d be calling Jerry Miculek president.

          • Joseph Goins

            James Yeager is a holy warrior who has studied he art of GunFu and mentally prepared himself since birth for dueling. See goo . gl/2oyLK8

        • mazkact

          Kirsten Joy Weiss maybe

        • bjensen

          As is typical on gun forums, you underestimate (some) Democrats.
          As with Republicans, not all Democrats believe in everything the party “stands for”…now Liberals on the other hand

  • Cottersay

    “…before any of us were born, the 1906 Olympics…”

    Speak for yourself, you young punk!

  • eriky

    Bring it back with rubber bullets! First one to cry loses.

  • marathag

    I want Olympic Paintball

    • Nils

      Or Olympic Archery Tag.

  • In order for this to become an olympic event, it would first need to be brought back at the local and regional level as a sport.

    Thompson Center pistols chambered in 9mm Simmunition (or ideally a new caliber that cannot accept live rounds like .48 short) and a method of scoring would need to be developed. For example, is it first one hit? Most ‘fatal’ shot placement?

  • Southpaw89

    Single shot paintball markers seem like the best option, I’ll take that over interpretive dance any day.

  • Vhyrus

    Screw this. We need 3 gun in the Olympics. It’s the only chance I ever have of making it.

    • Amplified Heat

      I’m perpetually surprised “obstacle course” hasn’t been an event this whole time (like countless endurance games seen around the country/world). 3 Gun is about two steps removed from a live shoot-house obstacle course

  • Marcus D.

    That looks to be just about ten paces each–say 60′. Were they smooth bores? It wold seem to make sense, and would make it fairly challenging, since the competitors are not standing square to each other. That handguard makes me think that the prime target was the head, not the heart.

  • mazkact

    Although presenting a larger target In this event us bigguns could be “Athletes”. I’m all in. It is really not that far removed from fencing.

  • I totally would watch that ♥

  • garymac66

    Back when paintball was first starting out (1980s) it wasn’t unusual for some paint ball fields to have “duels” for money on the side. Shooters would put money into a pot and then face off between games. That was back when the markers (guns) were small pump actions with short barrels. Being large caliber with smooth barrels they were probably about as accurate as they old flintlock or percussion dueling pistols. Range was just far enough to not ensure a hit, about 20 yards if I recall. First hit won. Even though it was only paintballs those things stung. It took some guts to stand up to an opponent face to face and I saw people lose their nerve more than once and back down.

    • garymac66

      I should also note that just goggles were used, no face shields or padded vests. Getting hit in the face hurt like hell.

    • CaptainGroovy

      Been there done that, if you purchased good paint balls (consistent size,weight, and roundness) and did a little work on you gun (trigger job, and honed the barrel slightly to remove roughness etc, even the lowly spatmaster could be accurate out to 50 meters with a fresh Co2 cartridge. At one field I played on dueling was common at 20 meters and second would shoot the hell out of anyone who discraced the field of honor. The rules for the duel followed the “Code Duello” as far a conduct of the duel. The local rules were ski googles for eye protection, and a ski cap or wrestlingrugby helmet to protect the ears ( we had several people that had to have ear surgery due to a grazing shot) no jackets, sweat shirts, hoodies, or upper body padding. As far as pants one layer nothing heavier than jeans, bdu’s, or regular sweat pants. Lastly you could wear a bandana around you neck (cowboy style). Head shots were allowed but discouraged, truthfully a shot right to the breastbone hurt the worst and the longest. The guns had to be chronographed prior to the duel to insure no hot hoped-up guns were used and they had to be 12 gram Co2 cartridge guns and of course only one paint ball at room temperature loaded in the gun. The loser of the duel had to pay the winner $25. One thing is for sure standing their waiting to be shot sucked but I would of rather been kicked in the cojones by Pele than discrace the field of honor because if you did you would get shot by every “field second” until they ran out of paint balls or Co2. I only saw 2 idiots break and run and they both got shot at least 100 to 150 times. One thing is for sure that yellow steak up their back was covered over with red welts that turned into a mass of black and blue bruises and I don’t think either could sit down for almost a week. Needless to say they both gave up paint balling.

      As for wax bullets I have been shooting then for years. The first time I saw them shot was by Bill Jordan doing a shooting demonstration as a child. I was totally amazed at how fast he could draw his gun and shoot and hit aspirin and saccharin tablets with his S&W 19 with a 5 inch barrel.

  • Ken

    Kind of a b movie but check out …blunt force trauma…they got it right lol

  • Jim

    I like it!

  • disqus_PDmXLtTxJj

    I would quit my job to take this up as an Olympian.

  • Ed Forney

    As a teen, my father bought me a Colt Frontier Scout revolver(22). Of course, I had to practice fast draw. I pulled the bullet out of the shells, and dumped the powder out. Then pushed the case into a block of wax. With nothing but the primer. I shot hundreds of rounds in our basement. Pretty amazing how much zip that wax had.

  • Tassiebush

    Gee you wouldn’t want to mix up waxed bullets with wax bullets