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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

Field target air rifle shooting

Line up your sights and take a deep breath, time to see if the field will yield results.

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What to expect

Field target shooting involves shooting targets on an outdoor range at a distance of between seven and 50 metres with an air rifle that fires pellets using compressed air. A lot of target shooting uses paper targets, but in field target shooting you’ll be shooting at metal reactive targets that are positioned at different distances from the shooter. They’ll usually be geometric shapes like circles or squares, with a smaller ‘hit zone’ within the silhouette that will react and fall down when it’s hit. They’re fun to use and it means the shooter gets instant feedback too. As Scouts, we don’t shoot any targets that represent animals or humans.

What you’ll learn

Target shooting is an Olympic sport, and getting lots of successful hits requires concentration and discipline. In field target air rifle shooting, you’ll develop your shooting skills and see the benefits of perseverance. It’s a great chance to improve the accuracy of your shooting and move past the basics too. In field target shooting, you often won’t be told the target distance, so you’ll learn to better estimate distance, while improving the focus and hand-eye coordination developed from other shooting activities.

Fun facts

  • The oldest known airgun was built around 1850 and it used a bellows system – like what you’d use to stoke a fire!
  • During the 1890s, airguns were used for sport, and in England public houses would hold competitive shooting matches. The losing team would pay for the winning team’s prize, usually their dinner!

Handy hints

  • Wear comfortable clothing. You don’t need any special clothing, so wear what makes you comfortable. You might need to wait for others to shoot before your turn, so bring a jumper if you’re outside.
  • Relax. If you’re tense, it can be harder to aim well. Take a few deep breaths, loosen up and zone in on the target.


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 rifle shooting can be a good introduction to shooting. It’s a great next step for anyone who’s tried laser games or paintballing, and a chance to learn and apply some of the safety rules before shooting full-bore rifles or similar. Ask everyone if they enjoyed the session. See who managed to improve their shooting skills or accuracy over their time shooting, and ask them what skills they’ve learned in the activity. Shooting can help improve control, coordination and concentration. It helps you to be dedicated and show attention to detail to improve accuracy. Shooting is also a great way to learn how to persevere if you’re not successful at first.

Did everyone enjoy taking part in the activity individually? Ask everyone to think about how they supported and encouraged each other during the session. Shooting activities are a good individual challenge, but can give everyone a chance to compete as a team too. One of the advantages of being in a team is the chance to share skills and support each other.

Field target air rifle ranges can be set up at distances from seven to 50 metres. If your group has a mixture of skill or experience levels, talk to the instructor and they’ll be able to adapt the session.

  • Field target 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.
  • Check out the British Field Target Association’s club finder to find a club near you. You can also find some information on accessible shooting activities from British Shooting.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Ready for the next steps? Anyone who’s enjoyed field target air rifle shooting could check out full-bore rifle shooting and there’s also opportunities to take part in the National Scout Rifle Championships.

If anyone has done this before, encourage them to share their knowledge beforehand with the group.