Family Fun with Airguns
By Steve Ware
Are you tired of spending half a week’s paycheck for a couple of boxes of rimfire ammunition? Are you frustrated attempting to find your favorite reloading components? Would you like to tear your kids away from their iPods and smart phones long enough to realize there’s a real world out there? Would you like your significant other to enjoy shooting as much as you do? Well, I might have the perfect solution for you – Field Target. Equipment is reasonably priced and 500 match grade pellets can be had for under $15/tin.
Field Target competition has grown from a single match in England in 1980 to a worldwide competition with an international governing body, the World Field Target Federation. For the purposes of this article, we will be looking at Field Target as it is shot in the United States.
The game is rather simple. Your target is a life sized metal plate shaped like animals normally hunted with airguns, crows, squirrels, and rabbits to name a few. There is a hole in the plate, and a paddle is behind the hole. A shot is fired, and if the pellet goes through the hole and hits the paddle, the animal falls. If the animal falls, the shooter scores an “X”, and the shooter with the most X’s at the end of the day is the winner.
The targets are set at various unknown distances from 10 to 55 yards (rifle) or 10 to 35 yards (pistol). The hole, called the kill zone, size is also varied in diameter. Rangefinders are not allowed, thus, shooters use scopes with mil dots and an adjustable parallax. Using the adjustable parallax, the shooter determines the distance to the target.
As with any shooting sport, one can spend as little or as much as the budget will allow. Fortunately, there are several brands of both rifle and pistol and mil dot scopes that are available at reasonable prices. On the other side of the coin, one can spend a couple of thousand of dollars on a rifle alone if you so desire. Being a 30+ year handgun competitor, my choice is a modestly priced air pistol.
In order to accommodate shooters that are a bit less athletic and have difficulties getting up off the ground from the sitting position, the Hunter division was created. Shooters in this division may shoot sitting on a 5-gallon bucket using a bipod to support the gun. Falling into this “less flexible” category, I shoot Hunter Pistol.
Two additional classes are available. Open Division is for air rifles of 20 foot pounds of energy or less and WFTF (World Field Target Federation) Division is for rifles of no more than 12 foot pounds of energy.
Field Target can be shot in any safe outdoor environment. Some ranges are field like. My range is in the woods; which, provides the feel of a hunting environment. It also offers many challenges not the least of which is changing light conditions.
One thing to consider when choosing your weapon, be it rifle or pistol, is caliber. While the beginner might think there is an advantage to a .22 caliber gun, consider that you are trying to place a pellet through a hole in the animal faceplate to hit a paddle and cause the animal to fall. Smaller diameter pellets fit better through small holes. Thus, .177 caliber airguns are preferred.
If Field Target sounds like something you would like to explore, visit www.aafta.org and review the resources and list of clubs. If you give it a shot, I believe you will be addicted.
Steve Ware is a freelance outdoor writer and consultant, and has been a competitive shooter for 30 yrs. He’s also a Daisy Air Gun Dealer and a Handgun Safety & Marksmanship Instructor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org