This was sent to me from Bill Price to encourage new shooters to try Airgun Field Target, a competition that started in the UK and has spread to the US and other countries. It’s a lot of fun, not too expensive, and above all, promotes marksmanship.

FIELD TARGET AIRGUN SHOOTING LETS ENTRY-LEVEL SHOOTERS COMPETE

By Bill Price

There is still plenty of high-level competition in airgun FIELD TARGET shooting (both rifle and pistol) but beginners find just as much fun as long time shooters.

FIELD TARGET shooting is a friendly competition designed as much for camaraderie as for matching your shooting ability against others. “FIELD TARGETS” are metal targets, usually in the shapes of game animals (with some humorous variations) typically from 6” to a foot tall, but the object is not to hit the animal—the object is to hit the “kill-zone,” a small hole in the animal or other silhouette, usually ½” to 1-1/2” in diameter, depending on the distance from the shooter.

Distances range from 10 yards to as much as 55 yards. This allows beginners to score while challenging the more experienced shooters.

While you could show up with a $3,000 air rifle and an equally costly scope, it’s not necessary. I’ve never shot FT with a gun costing over $189, and for my first year in FT shot with a $69 scope.  During that year, I went from shooting 13 out of 60 to taking, third, second, and once even first place in the hunter class (granted, the competition was pretty light the day I took first place).

Hunter class is an ideal beginner class, requiring only an airgun (pellets, not BBs) and a scope (it’s hard to imagine anyone shooting field target with open sights, although it’s feasible).  While more agile shooters sit on the ground with a cushion (a “bum-bag”) those who are not so flexible also choose hunter class, which allows the shooter to sit on a “bucket” with a lid, such as is available from Home Depot, Lowe’s, or other building supply outlets. Hunter-class shooters are also permitted to use a pair of ‘shooting-sticks’ or a bipod to rest their gun, while those who sit closer to the ground rest the gun on their arms and legs, sitting with their knees up in the air.

Guns can be powered by spring (“springers,”) or multi-pump pneumatic, or by CO2 or high pressure air (usually from a SCUBA tank). Complete rules can be found at the AAFTA website (below).

Several small companies manufacture some excellent, extremely durable field targets, and a low-priced squirrel target with “kill-zone” reducers is available from many online airgun suppliers.

Most shooters use .177 pellets, as the smaller pellet fits more easily through the little “kill-zone” holes, but pellets up to .22 are allowed. There is a power limit of  twenty foot-pounds—to prevent damage to the targets.

Many FT clubs exist throughout the US and other countries; national and international competitions are held annually.

An FT forum can be found at  http://www.network54.com/Forum/451309/ (and there may be others), and the AAFTA website (American Airgun Field Target Association) is at http://www.aafta.org/

My “real” guns are at home, gathering dust, but still ready for the migration of the northern Virginia wildebeests or an unfriendly incursion, but meanwhile I’m shooting field target whenever I can, including in my yard, where five of the metal targets claim permanent resident status.

Contact the author at chrodoc@gmail.com.

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