The sport of target shooting is one of the oldest in Australia. Royal Marines and soldiers who arrived with the First Fleet and its successors arranged shooting competitions to hone their skills, and the sport grew from there. The Illustrated London News reported in 1863 the results of a rifle match at Wimbledon between Volunteer Corps from England and Australia, 14 years before the first cricket Test Match.
The sport as we know it today developed out of the huge advance in consistentcy and accuracy made possible by the advent of breech-loading rifles and expansive (gas-sealing) internally-primed metal cartridges. Purely military considerations sometimes favour speed of fire and other factors over accuracy, but these had little appeal to the competitive sportsman. Once reliable accuracy was possible, this was naturally followed by a desire to prove who was the best shot, and the sport of rifle shooting was born.
Target rifles are designed with extreme accuracy in mind - which is not a primary consideration for rifles designed to be weapons - and target rifle shooters lavish as much care and attention on their rifles as a golfer does on a set of clubs, or a cricketer on a bat.
Basic equipment includes the rifle itself; a sling to attach it to the shooter, providing a stable brace for the rifle; simple open sights; a spotting telescope if not using electronic targets; a very stiff and awkwardly-rigid shooting jacket to help support the upper body in the correct shooting position; a mat to lie on for stability and comfort.