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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Air pistol shooting

Take aim, get a steady grip and don’t lose your focus as you line up your shot in this test of accuracy.

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What to expect

Air pistol shooting is a target sport where pistols are fired on a 10m range. They fire small ammunition called ‘pellets’, which punch holes in the targets on the other side. Pistols are smaller than air rifles so you usually shoot standing up, and you may be required to wear some safety gear, such as protective glasses.

What you’ll learn

Air pistol shooting can improve your patience and motivate you to hone your skills, as it’s a discipline that’s easy to score by counting the holes on your target. All target sports encourage you to take your time, manage your breathing before you shoot and to try again even if you miss the target. It’s not necessarily about who hits the bullseye; it’s about trying to shoot in the same place numerous times. When you master this, you know that your aim is true. Pistol shooting also lets you work on your teamwork skills, as there are games you can play together. Being able to work together will help encourage everyone to keep trying and hit more targets.

Fun facts

Air guns have been around since the 1500s and shooting for sport has become more popular. Every four years, there’s a World Shooting Championships supported by the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISFF), in which air pistols have their own event. They’ve also been a part of the Summer Olympics since 1988.

Handy hints

  • Protect your ears. Some people may not like loud noises. Talk with them to see how you can help. You’ll be provided with mufflers in all likelihood, but bring some ear plugs with you too, just in case.
  • Grab some extra hair bobbles. People with long hair will probably need to tie it back. Take a few extra hair ties, just in case anyone forgets.


You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Shooting is defined in POR 9.11.5
  • Shooting at targets representing humans or animals is not permitted.
  • Consider local feelings on shooting prior to planning your activity, provide parents with detailed information about the activity and parental permission is required for members under 18 taking part.
  • Transportation, storage and use of shooting equipment is detailed in POR 9.11.5
Joint activities with other organisations:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
  • Acceptable instructor qualifications
    • Range conducting officer - as outlined in FS120004 Shooting
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:
You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
  • The centre/instructor should hold one of these:
    • Range conducting officer - as outlined in FS120004 Shooting
  • The provider must have public liability insurance.




Air pistol shooting allows you to try something new in a safe and controlled manner. This kind of environment should put you at ease and help you focus and take your time to aim. What was the most challenging part of this activity for you? Was it holding your hand steady while firing, loading the gun with a pellet, or something else?

Being able to shoot in the same place every time is not easy; it takes a lot of practice and perseverance to get the technique right. Was there anything you found that helped you improve your accuracy? Think about how you held your breath and how quickly you exhaled.

Some instructors will use different games or targets to help change the level of challenge. If your group has a mixture of skill or experience levels, talk to the instructor and they’ll be able to adapt the session.

Air pistol shooting can often be adapted so more people can give it a go. Many centres have facilities that cater for people with additional needs and experienced instructors to help everyone achieve their goals. Get in touch with your local provider to chat through the needs of people in your group - make sure you give them plenty of notice.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

If anyone enjoyed this adventure, help them take part in other similar target sports like air rifle shooting or clay pigeon shooting. Also, encourage them to look for any local shooting teams that they could join.

If anyone has done this before, encourage them to share their knowledge beforehand with the group. They could do a presentation or have a chat with everyone about what to expect in the activity.