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Shooting at the 1896 Athina Summer Games:

Men's Military Pistol, 25 metres

Shooting at the 1896 Summer Games:


Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Shooting Range, Kallithea
Date Started: April 10, 1896
Date Finished: April 10, 1896
Format: 25 metres. Five six-shot strings. Score for each string determined by multiplying target hits by points scored. Target scoring 1-6. String possible 216. Total possible 1,080.

Gold: USA John Paine
Silver: USA Sumner Paine
Bronze: GRE Nikolaos Dorakis


John and [Sumner Paine] were brothers. [John Paine] had heard of the Olympic Games in Boston, where he was a member of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). Initially he elected to sail to Athens with other members of the BAA. But he eventually sailed on his own, going to Paris to meet his brother, Sumner, who was shooting that summer in the Gastinne-Renette Galleries. They were unable to find out much about the competitions, except that one event was to be a revolver contest over 30 metres. Sumner Paine brought along everything he could find in Paris, including a Colt Army revolver, a Smith & Wesson Russian revolver, and a pocket gun for each of them, as well as John’s .22 calibre Stevens pistol and Sumner’s .22 Wurfflein pistol. They also brought along 3,500 rounds of ammunition, which proved to ample, as they eventualy only fired a total of 96 rounds.

The Colt Army revolver was the famous gun of the old west, also known as the Frontier Six-Shooter. The Smith & Wesson Russian or No. 3 Single Action revolver was the usually the choice of the knowledgable pistol shooter of the era. The gun was made in large quantities, as the Smith & Wesson plant had received huge orders from Russia beginning in 1870, and almost 250,000 had been manufactured by the time of the Athens Olympics. The Wurfflein pistol was a single-shot pistol with a tip-up barrel, hinged at the front end of the frame. They were popular in shooting events in the 19th century, winning many matches and setting many records.

The shooters shot in groups of three. The first group was [Pantelis Karasvedas], [Sidney Merlin] and Sumner Paine. The second group was [Sanidis], [Aristovoulos Petmezas], and John Paine. The composition of the subsequent groups is not known.

This was the first pistol event of the 1896 Olympics and the Paines outclassed their competitors, despite the fact that they had difficulty with the conditions. The sunlight was almost blinding and they had problems seeing the black target with its white center. In addition, both of their pistols had been sighted for 50 yards, not 25 metres, and they had to make some minor sighting adjustments.

View a Phase of this EventFinal Standings

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal PTS TH
1 John Paine 25 United States USA Gold 442 25
2 Sumner Paine 27 United States USA Silver 380 23
3 Nikolaos Dorakis Greece GRE Bronze 205
4 Ioannis Frangoudis Greece GRE
5 Holger Nielsen 29 Denmark DEN
AC Vavis Greece GRE
AC Platis Greece GRE
AC Aristovoulos Petmezas Greece GRE
AC Pavlos Pavlidis Greece GRE
AC Patsouris Greece GRE
AC Pantazidis Greece GRE
AC Georgios Orfanidis Greece GRE
AC Xenon Mikhailidis Greece GRE
AC Sanidis Greece GRE DNF
AC Sidney Merlin 39 Great Britain GBR DNF
AC Pantelis Karasevdas Greece GRE DNF