Field Target (FT) ‘new starters’ guide
FT is for all, if you are young, old, male or female it does not make a blind bit of difference! The world of FT is there for all to enjoy, whether it be for fun or competition. Field Target shooting is a sport that has grown in popularity in recent years; it combines the outdoor field conditions of a shoot with the target precision of competition shooting. A course is laid out, outdoors with a route to walk around; shooting point/pegs are set out in different locations around the route, with two knockdown targets at each point/peg. The targets can be set out to any distance from 10 to 55 yards away. The targets are knock-down targets, that is to say the target is a 3mm steel plate cut into a recognised shape, generally a silhouette of quarry with a hit zone in the centre, the hit zone is typically 40mm in diameter but can be as small as 20mm at closure ranges. If your shot hits the targets hit zone the target will fall down and a point in gained, if you shoot and hit the steel plate the target will not fall down and a miss registered. The targets can be up in a tree, in hollows in the ground, or part hidden by foliage, foresing the shooting to change shooting position to get a clear shot, making it a challenge to the shooters skill.
Immediate advice that I have:
Don’t go out to the local gun shop and spend all your money on the latest kit, pop down to a club shoot for a very informal chat with a few of the members. Ask whatever questions you have, even if you think they are stupid…. “A tenner says that someone has previously asked the same questions” (he says with a smile). Take whatever opportunity you can to try and shoot some of the rifles…Ripley and the Air Arms Pro-Target are quite common (that should tell you something but don’t be swayed by this!!). Listen to the good advice on offer; remember that the members have been in your position before, take your time and be patient in your choice of rifle and scope and don’t think that because it costs a lot it must be good! And don’t expect to be a budding world champion just yet, take your time perfecting your technique, hopefully that will come in due course.
Just about any air rifle can be used for FT. However, some rifles are too powerful and others are too low power to be efficiently used. Most rifles, shooting less than 6ft. lbs (six foot pound) or 650 fps (feet per second) are not used in field target since the accuracy of such rifles typically suffer at longer distances. Rifles shooting up to 12ft. lbs are normally used in FT. Rifles shooting more than 12ft. lbs. are illegal in this country unless you have an FAC (Fire Arms Certificate) and are not allowed in Field Target shooting.
There is a wide variety of scopes available and at varying prices, so your finances play a big part here, as well as the advice. Try not to make the same mistake as most new shooter do and buy an expensive gun then spend whatever money they have left on the scope. Think about it? Most FT air guns today are as accurate as they can be, it’s the scope that does all the work (range finding the target) and of course your technique help.
The only way to determine which pellet is right for your airgun is to shoot a variety of pellets through your airgun and see which one shoots the best group for you. Ask around to see what other shooter are using, that will give you a good starting point for your own pellet testing. You will be surprised how much difference in group sizes there can be from different pellets shot from the same airgun.
Most of the targets are shot from the seated potion so to keep your derriere comfortable and dry a shooting bag is a must.
As I have already mentioned, ask questions and listen to the advice given and chose your kit accordingly. What you need to bear in mind is that you might not like the sport after a short period; so until you are certain, think about buying second-hand kit…brand new is not cheap and not necessarily the best!
Any shooting position is allowed in FT. As long as you can see the hit zone and have the airgun supported only by your body, you can use any position that you are comfortable with; the most popular is the sitting position. Most shooters use the sitting position since that offers the best stability. Your two feet on the ground, your posterior as upright as possible/comfortable, sat on a beanbag cushion for comfort. You then brace yourself across your knees with one arm, elbow and hand on respective knees, and rest the rifle on the elbow of that arm, or on the upturned hand on one knee as an alternative rest. You then have a very stable platform and the movement you can see through your scope is the effect of your own breathing and indeed heartbeat as the rifle moves in time with your pulse, the breathing becomes part of your shooting technique. However, clever course designers will make sure that at least one of the targets cannot be shot from a sitting position and will have to be taken with a standing or kneeling shot.
The targets used for FT shooting are made of metal and are shaped traditionally to look like typical airgun quarry like rabbits, rats, pigeons, squirrels, and crows. Nowadays more fun shapes such as crocodiles or even Santa’s sack of toys! are used. They all have a 40mm diameter hit zone in them, sometimes smaller, with a metal disc (hit zone) behind which is linked to the prop that holds the target upright. When a pellet hits this disc (hit zone) it knocks the prop allowing the target to fall down. The target has a cord attached which is used to pull the target upright again which resets the prop ready for the next shot.
OK, so there you have the basics. All that is required now is for you to come to one of our shoots and try it for yourself. You can email Kevin Sayers at firstname.lastname@example.org he will be able to steer you in the right direction.