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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 rifle shooting

Try an air-powered introduction to the sport of shooting.

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What to expect

Air rifles have a long barrel and fire pellets using compressed air. Target shooting ranges can be indoors or outdoors – they’re usually 10 metres long. The targets are usually paper with geometric designs. Scouts don’t shoot targets that represent animals or humans. 

Air rifle shooting is one of the most accessible forms of shooting as it’s not too expensive. You can set up a safe airgun range in a lot of Scout meeting places.

What you’ll learn

Air rifle shooting is a great introduction to the sport of shooting. It’s the obvious next step for anyone who’s tried laser games or paintballing and wants to take it further: it gives people a chance to learn the basics of safe gun handling, as well as the art of shooting straight, before they pick up a full-bore rifle or similar.

As with any shooting sport, you’ll need to take a deep breath, be in control, and work on your coordination if you want to get your shots on target. You’ll probably get a few goes, so you’ll need to focus when you’re up and wait for others in between.

Fun facts

  • We know that air guns were used for hunting in the 1400s and 1500s; the oldest preserved air gun is from around 1580 and is kept in the Royal Armoury Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • The National Scout Rifle Championships take place every year; if you stick at it and perfect your skills, you’ll find that there are plenty of opportunities to shine.

Handy hints

  • Wear something comfy. You don’t need any special clothing for air rifle shooing, so wear what makes you comfortable. There’ll probably be a bit of waiting around while others have their turns, so take a jumper if you’ll be outside.
  • Make sure the venue you’re going has accessible and inclusive equipment for everyone in you group. People come in all shapes and sizes, no matter what age, and may have additional needs, so make sure you share your group’s needs with your provider. They can then have the correct equipment ready for you when you arrive.
  • Understand the activity you are doing. Taking part in a shooting activity is very serious to make sure everyone stays safe. Make sure that everyone taking part understands that they must be sensible and careful around everyone else whilst taking part.


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.



Planning a shooting activity


Air rifle shooting was a great chance for everyone to develop skills. Who enjoyed giving it a go? Did anyone improve their accuracy during the session? What skills did people develop? People might think about things like control, coordination, and concentration. They had to focus, stick at it, and pay attention to the little details to be successful. Did anyone come up against any obstacles or challenges? What helped them to keep going or try again?

It’s not easy to stick at it. How did people support and encourage each other? Even though shooting activities are individual challenges, people often find it helpful to have a supportive team around them. How else did people help each other? Perhaps some people shared hints and tips or gave their friends a pep talk when they were ready to throw in the towel.

Air rifle ranges are typically set up at 5.5 metres or 10 metres, so it’s usually possible to change the distance (and difficulty) if you want to. Chat to the person leading the adventure before the session to figure out how you’ll make it challenging and interesting for your group.

  • Air rifle 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.
  • The National Small-bore Rifle Association has a club finder – you could ask your local club for a helping hand to make air rifle shooting more accessible. British Shooting also has information on accessible shooting activities on their website.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.