Getting Started in Field Target
We have been asked many times how to get started in air gun shooting. There are many options on the market, and it can be difficult to determine exactly what is going to work the best for the money spent. If you are intending to shoot AAFTA style field target, the preferred caliber is .177. Although .20 and .22 caliber rifles exists, you may need to turn down the power to get the gun to shoot under 20 fpe (foot-pounds of energy). Most .177 are under 20 fpe, and most .22 are above 20 fpe, out of the box.
We have made many suggestions but there are many options to consider, and too much to remember following a casual conversation. This is a collection of various items we have suggested as guns and equipment that may interest the beginners in this sport. The examples listed aren't really a recommendation, rather they may serve as an example of the type of item we are referring to.
Hunter Division - Equipment
There are two ways you can shoot the FT game (using AAFTA rules), hunter division or WFTF/Open division. If you are new to this game, we recommend you start shooting hunter division.
Assuming you are shooting the hunter division, you will need an air rifle that shoots with less than 20 fpe (foot-pounds of energy). Generally this is any .177 caliber rifle, and some .22 caliber rifles that have been tuned to under 20 fpe.
You will want a scope on the rifle. Current rules state the scope should be set at a maximum of 16x power. If your scope is more powerful than 16x, you will need to set it to a marking of 16x or lower.
You can use a bucket or stool to sit on. The seat should not have a back or arms. You can also use shooting sticks/bog sticks to support the gun while shooting. The shooting sticks must have no more than two legs, and must not be attached to the gun.
You will be asked to shoot the standing and/or kneeling positions. You can legally shoot standing in lieu of kneeling. If you are shooting our informal events, you can shoot sitting, but mark it one your score card indicating you did not follow the forced position requirement.
For any rules clarifications and information about other divisions, check out the AAFTA rules at www.aafta.org
Guns are classified by their power plant. The common available power plants are Spring Piston and PCP (Pre-charge pneumatics).
Piston guns require significant effort to cock the gun between shots (35+ pounds), and is not recommended for youth or people that may not have the muscle needed to cock the gun. When putting a scope on a piston gun, make sure it is an air gun rated scope; these guns have a reverse recoil that can easily damage a scope that is not assembled correctly. Piston guns tend to be cheaper than PCPs, and do not require additional accessories to fill the gun.
Examples of quality Spring Piston guns.
PCP guns require an external means to fill the gun with compressed air. But, a PCP is easy to cock and load, and are easier to shoot.
Examples of PCP guns used in FT across various price points.
PCP Guns and Air Source
A note about PCPs (Pre-Charged Pneumatics) - These are filled from an external air source, like a scba bottle, from a high pressure air compressor (4500 psi), or from a hand pump (not recommended). If considering a PCP, take into consideration you will want to acquire the necessary accessories to fill the gun. Our club members can supply you with air at the range, but you will want to budget for these items to be self-sufficient. You may need to purchase additional connectors to attach the tank to the compressor or to the gun.
When shooting hunter division, you aren't allowed to adjust your scope turrets after you start shooting the course, and you are limited to 16x power. As such, you can get away with using cheaper scopes in hunter division because you do not need the features and consistency that usually accompany more expensive scopes. You want a scope that can focus down to 10 yards, and preferably have a side focus parallax adjustment. If you are shooting a spring piston rifle, make sure you are using an air gun rated scope. You will want a reticle that contains dots or lines to assist shooting with holdover, something like a mil-dot reticle. If there is any doubt, consider buying from someone like Pyramyd Air, or talking to their sales reps to ensure you are getting the right scope for your need.
There are many scopes out there, and it mostly comes down to personal preference. One example is the UTG / Leapers 4-16x SWAT Accushot ($200) - probably the cheapest scope that does the job for the hunter division. Built with tru-strength technology, is spring piston rated. Comes with scope rings for a picatinny rail, you may need to get other scope rings if your gun uses a 11mm dovetail scope rail.
Other scopes that may meet your preferences: Element Optics Helix ($400), Vector Optics Veyron ($240), Athlon Optics Talos ($250), Hawke Airmax ($450), Blackhound Genesis ($300-$500), Sightron SIII Field Target ($1200)
Various shooting aids that may come in handy when shooting field target.
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410 Sportsman Rd. Annville, PA 17003