Target Shooting in General

Strict laws apply to the purchase and use of any type of gun. For cartridge guns a firearms certificate (FAC), obtained from your local Police force, is required before you can own your own gun. However, most target shooting clubs are allowed, within the law, to let persons without an FAC use club guns under supervision and our club is no exception. It is therefore possible to try target shooting as a sport without having to make any investment in your own equipment as we can provide most of what you need, not forgetting that you will have to pay for the ammunition.

At Tondu you can also shoot with .177 air rifles or .177 air pistols which are less stringently controlled, but do read about the law on the Airgun page. Air guns were traditionally powered by springs but then CO2 gas came along, with the latest guns powered by compressed air(known as PCP, Pre Charged Pneumatic). There are Olympic competitions for both air rifles and air pistols.

Some types of shooting require differing levels of equipment and specialist clothing. These notes are only intended to provide a brief introduction to the sport and there are detailed rules regarding the guns and clothing required or allowed which must be consulted before purchase. Any beginner is strongly advised to take advice from a knowledgeable club member before purchase. The following are the major types of small-bore target shooting and equipment required:-

* Prone .22 Rimfire Cartridge Target Rifle - usually "bolt" or "martini" single shot action, shot from a lying down position. Equipment required comprises a rifle equipped with "iron" aperture type sights as opposed to "telescopic" sights, a sling to support the rifle, a shooting glove for the hand that supports the rifle, a shooting jacket for support, shooting glasses if your eyes need correction, a hat or visor to shade your eyes from the sun outdoors, a telescope and stand so that you can spot where your shots are on the target and a shooting mat to lie on. Ear defenders are recommended, more to aid concentration than to protect your hearing from damage. Finally you'll need some 'Bulldog' clips to be able to attach your target to the target frame, 6 as a minimum but 12 preferably, as with some shoots a backer would be needed to be able to identify cross shots. That is where a shooter fires on the wrong target - it happens, you can be assured of that.

* 3 Position .22 Rimfire Cartridge Target Rifle - shot Prone, Standing and Kneeling. In addition to the equipment required for prone shooting, shooting boots and shooting trousers for support, a kneeling roll and a stand on which to rest your rifle between shots and to hold your ammunition and a tall stand for your telescope

* .177 Air Rifle - shot from a standing position. You will not need the bulldog clips, a kneeling role or shooting mat for air rifle shooting but everything else as for 3 position shooting

* .177 Air Pistol - shot from a standing position using one hand only. You might need shooting glasses and perhaps a peaked cap or visor, ear defenders and a spotting telescope. Shoes must be shoes and not boots which might provide ankle support.

* .22 Rimfire Cartridge Lightweight Sport Rifle (LSR) - shot from the standing position. LSR competitions were introduced following the pistol ban in 1997. No special clothing is allowed. The LSR is usually a bolt action or semi automatic rifle with telescopic sights.

Shooting is a sport that can be learnt and does not require any special gift or aptitude. Shooting is one of the few sports where men and women can compete on equal terms. It may come as a surprise to many as to how many women enjoy target shooting and compete internationally. The abilities of shooters of differing skill levels and experience are catered for by a system of classes so that you will always shoot against people of similar skill, experience and ability. Juniors are catered for with their own competitions and teams. Juniors wishing to shoot rifle are usually only limited by their physique in terms of being strong enough to hold the rifle without causing physical damage whilst their bodies are not yet mature. Fourteen is probably a good age to consider starting rifle shooting. Junior pistol shooters may be able to start at a slightly younger age.

One of the other surprising aspects of shooting is that competitions are often conducted on a "postal" basis. Our club teams shoot on our home range against a similar club team who shoot on their home range at the other end of the country. Shot cards are signed by shooters and witnessed and then sent to an independent scorer who determines the result. Competitions are also organised to be shot "shoulder to shoulder" and are usually referred to as open competitions. Competitions may be "individual" or "team" based and quite often leagues operate in the 2 seasons for shooting which are commonly indoors in the winter and outdoors in the summer although again there are exceptions such as Polar Bear Leagues which are shot outdoors in the winter.

Prone Rifle
Prone rifle shooting is carried out lying down at various distances but commonly 15, 20 or 25 yards, 50 metres and 100 yards. 50 metres is the Olympic competition distance for prone rifle shooting with a .22 rimfire cartridge target rifle, known as 50m prone rifle. At Tondu shooting is conducted outdoors at 50m and 100 yards and indoors at shorter distances although there are exceptions.

When shooting outdoors the shooter not only has to repeat the perfect shot process as many times as required in order to achieve a maximum score but also has to contend with whatever the weather brings in terms of wind, rain, snow, hail, sun, cloud, pressure, humidity etc. To give an idea of the skill required, a 10mph crosswind will blow a .22 bullet off course by 4 inches at 100 yards compared to shooting in still conditions. As we all know the wind never blows in a constant manner but continually varies in strength and direction making the shooters task extremely difficult. Consequently you will find wind indicator flags placed at varying points on the ranges. At Tondu these are put out by the shooters - not forgetting that they have to be collected up after shooting ceases.

There are various competitions available for small-bore prone rifle shooters:-

Common to all competitions, shooters are allowed to take sighting shots known as "sighters". Sighters enable the shooter to adjust the rifle sights so that if the shot is fired correctly the bullet will pass through the centre of the target. When shooting outdoors, sighters are essential to test the strength and direction of the wind before starting the match. In some competitions the rules allow the shooter to return to make further sighting shots but not in others and not in Olympic competition or ISSF competitions.

The "English Match" comprises 60 shots to count at 50 metres with unlimited sighters before the first competition shot is fired. The English Match has been adopted as the Olympic competition at 50 metres. The time allowance for 60 competition shots and sighters is 75 minutes. This is the qualifying competition which is followed by a final between the top 8 qualifiers who have to shoot a further 10 shot match with the scores being added to the qualifying score to determine the final result. In the event of a tie there is a sudden death shoot-off between those in a tied position. International, Olympic or ISSF competitions are nowadays shot on electronic targets. In more local competitions paper targets are still used. For an English Match there will normally be 3 "cards" with 2 sighting diagrams and 4 match targets per card and 5 shots are fired at each match diagram to count for the competition making up the total competition of 60 shots to produce a maximum possible score of 600. Each card will have a 20 minute time allowance for both sighters and match shots followed by a 10 minute target changeover period.

The "Scottish Match" is 60 shots at 100 yards and follows the same format as the English Match but will be shot on 3 cards with 1 sighting diagram and 2 competition diagrams with 10 shots to count per match diagram.

A Double English Match is 2 courses of English Match and a Double Scottish Match is 2 courses of a Scottish Match.

The "Single Dewar" comprises one card at 50m and one card at 100 yards with 20 minutes for each card giving a maximum possible score of 400 points.

A Double Dewar is 40 shots at 50m and 40 shots at 100 yards making a match maximum possible score of 800 points.

Indoor prone shooting tends to be shot at 10 bull targets which involves changing position for each and every shot. Indoor shooting is conducted without the vagaries of the weather to worry about and is the best place to start. At Tondu, on our indoor range, we have returning targets, so the shooter does not have to go forward of the firing point to change targets.

There are other types of shooting targets used in fun type competitions which may well have to be shot against the clock. A rapid match will usually comprise 10 shots in 90 seconds. Many clubs organise a Christmas fun shoot when special targets are used and even polo mints at 25 yards! Another competition is to shoot at lit candles and the winner is the shooter who can blow the candle out without hitting the candle. Outdoors, teams shoot at tiny clay discs and the team to break all their discs first wins.

3 Position Rifle Shooting
The distinction between 3P and Prone is the fact that of a 60 shot match at 50m, only 20 shots are fired from the prone position. 20 shots are fired from the kneeling position with a kneeling roll under the instep. A further 20 shots are fired from the standing position. This is another ISSF and Olympic shooting discipline with a qualifying round followed by a ten shot final for the top eight competitors.

Beginners should master prone shooting before considering 3P shooting.

.177 Air Rifle
Air rifle is shot at 10m indoors from the standing position and is an ISSF and Olympic discipline. The match comprises 60 shots plus sighters before the match starts followed by a 10 shot final for the top eight competitors.We have returning targets installed on our indoor range for all Airgun shooting.

.177 Air Pistol
Air pistol matches are usually 60 shots in competitions especially those under ISSF and Olympic rules at 10m which are followed by a 10 shot final for the leading 8 competitors. Other competitions are shot at 20 yards and there are also various competitions shot against time limits and with targets that turn towards the shooter who takes a shot and then the target turns away again after 7 seconds.

Lightweight Sport Rifle (LSR)
LSR competitions are usually shot at 20 yards indoors following similar rules to old pistol competitions. There are also competitions shot at falling steel plate targets outdoors and precision shooting at 50m.

Pistol and LSR are popular as they require far less equipment and investment than for the other shooting disciplines.

The Cost of Shooting
Most clubs have an annual or seasonal subscription. Some clubs include everything in the subscription whilst others may use a combination of a lower subscription plus a range fee every time you go to shoot. The normal competitions in which the club participates tend to be included in the sub but there are additional competitions and open events which will have their own entry fees which you will have to pay for yourself. Tondu is no exception and has a fee of over £100 per annum for a full member, with concessions for students, juniors and senior citizens.

.22 Rimfire Cartridge Ammunition can cost from about £5 up to about £8 per box of 50 bullets depending on the quality.

Air pellets can also cost up to £8 per tin of 500 for the best quality pellets.

As far as equipment goes you get what you pay for. There is a continual supply of secondhand equipment coming on to the market so it does not have to be expensive to get your own gear if you wish to do so. A lot of shooting equipment is imported and its price is therefore subject to the strength or weakness of the pound compared to the euro and dollar. At present the pound is weak and prices have risen accordingly, for rifles and pistols particularly.

Once you buy your own equipment you should consider joining the National Small-bore Rifle Association if you have not already done so, as this is the governing body for our sport in the UK and you will certainly need to be a member if you intend to shoot any of their competitions. Your annual NSRA subscription includes insurance for your equipment and gives third party cover, a magazine, free entry to various competitions and advice and help with regard to firearms and the law.

As has been said before most clubs can give you an introduction to shooting supplying everything you need. If you choose to take up the sport you will need to join a club as a probationary member. The probationary period is required by law and usually lasts up to 6 months. At Tondu there is a probationary members fee to be paid and an application for membership form to be completed.

We hope that this has been a useful introduction to the sport of small-bore target shooting and you will find that our club will give you a warm welcome if you want to come along and have a go.

Finally the answers to a few questions about competitions for you.

What are postal competitions ?
Postal competitions are matches shot at your own club under match conditions. Each of your targets has a sticker placed on them, prior to you shooting them. Once your targets have been shot each is witnessed and signed by an official of your club. The resultant targets are posted to the club/association that is running the competition. The targets are scored and your score is returned to you (you do not usually receive your targets back). Each postal competition may have slightly different rules, such as the number of shots per target.

What are Open Meetings ?
Open meetings are shoulder to shoulder competitions where you compete in a match against other individuals. The organisers of the matches will provide the rules by which the competition are run. Some open meetings will require your equipment to be checked by equipment control, to ensure it meets the requirements of the competition.

Am I good enough to enter a competition ?
If you don't enter, you will never know . Competitions are usually run within classes, this aims to allow people of similar standards to compete against each other. Your class is taken from the average score you would expect to achieve. This average score is sometimes out of 100, 200, 400, 0r 600. The entry form for the competition will usually specify what average you are required to enter.

What are the smallbore rifle classes ?
In descending order... Class X, Class A, Class B, Class C, and Class D