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Air rifle shooting

Try an air-powered introduction to the sport of shooting.
Plan a session with this activity

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 Shooting 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.

We’re reworking our safety guidance for adventurous activities to make it easier to understand and follow.

In the meantime, before you try air rifle shooting, review the safety information here.


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.


All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.