Greg’s Guide to Field Target Shooting – Part Two
Our heading photo (above) shows Greg Field Target shooting in a Forced Standing lane with a spring/piston air rifle.
There are three divisions of Field Target shooting that are officially recognized by AAFTA. These divisions are Open, Hunter and WFTF. Each division has it’s own specific set of rules. Also, there has been a movement at the local level to offer a Freestyle/Unlimited Division where anything goes.
The easiest AAFTA division to start in is Hunter.
Hunter Field Target shooting is broken down into 2 classes, PCP (pre-charged pneumatic guns) and Piston (spring/piston or gas ram guns). As for scopes, the maximum magnification limit in Hunter is 12x. You can have a scope with a higher maximum magnification, but you must use 12X or below in order to compete. If your scope doesn’t have a factory 12x mark, you must use the next lowest factory mark.
Hunter division allows the use of shooting sticks and monopods for supporting the rifle but no attached bipods or tripods of any type. You may also use a seat (with no back or arms ) up to a maximum of 16-inches in height.
Below we see an example of a Hunter Division – PCP class setup.
Continuing with the scope setup discussion from the previous article and gearing it towards setting up a scope for Hunter division, I’d like to add a little more information…
In my last article I showed a picture of my marked side wheel and said I also shoot the targets as I marked the yardage on my wheel. After getting all the holdover/hold under marks jotted down on a piece of paper I then develop a range card to use during the match.
Here again is the example of my marked scope side wheel.
Below, we have the holdover/hold under “range card” that works with the scope side wheel. (Note: the horizontal lines between the dots are for the user’s reference. The scope has Mil-dots only.)
Shown above are pictures of my marked side wheel and the holdover/hold under info associated with it. The “range card” in this case is actually an adhesive label that is stuck to the flip open objective cover on the scope. This makes it readily available without having to search around for that elusive piece of paper that you wrote the information down on.
With this type setup, after the range is determined by adjusting the parallax (getting the target in focus) using the side wheel the shooter can read the yardage to the target then use his “range card” to determine the hold point.
For example: the card shown above shows the reticle is zeroed at 20 and 40 yards. If the target is ranged at 12 yards you would reference your “range card” and know that you’d hold 1 1/2 dots down below the centerline in order to make the shot. If the target was at 10 yards you’d hold 2 1/2 dots down. This is just one example of scope markings. There are plenty of ways to mark them, use what works best for you and your setup.
OK, so you are familiar with your equipment, you have your scope setup and now want to attend a match. To find a match near you, check out the AAFTA Calendar.
The terrain and layouts vary depending on the venue. Everything from wide open fields to tight shadowed forests and everything in between and beyond. Here are some typical Field Target shooting ranges.
Below. Field Target shooting at BCSA (Binghamton, NY) – Open terrain with lots of shadows.
Below. Field Target range at DIFTA (Damascus, MD) – Wooded terrain with lots of shadows depending on the season.
By contrast, Out West, the Field Target range can look like this. (Rio Salado Shooting Range in Mesa, AZ).
A typical monthly match consists of 10 – 15 lanes. Each lane usually contains 2 to 3 targets. Each target in the lane is usually shot twice. So, the total number of shots for a match typically vary between 40 – 60 shots.
Matches usually last for 2 to 4 hours, depending on the number of shots and number of lanes. To begin with, the Match Director (MD) holds a shooters/safety/informational meeting prior to the start of the match. During this meeting the MD will layout all safety requirements, the time allowed per lane, the order that the targets are to be shot in, etc.
The order that the targets will be shot vary by venue, so please be sure to listen to the information provided by the MD. Any target not shot in order will result in a miss. For the most part, the target order falls into one of two categories, near to far or left to right.
Shooters are usually grouped in squads of 2 to 3 shooters. The time per lane is usually 1 minute for each shot plus 1 additional minute for setup.
What that means is that if the lane has 2 targets in it, each shooter would have 5 minutes to complete the lane. (Two shots per target x 2 targets would equal 4 minutes plus the 1 additional minute allowed for setup).
Again, this is NOT written in stone so pay attention at the shooters meeting for instructions. There are venues that only allow the 1 minute per shot and do not include the additional 1 minute for setup. Don’t be worried! Four shots in 4 minutes or 6 shots in 6 minutes is still plenty of time.
All courses usually contain at least 1 positional lane. For Hunter division shooters, you may shoot all the lanes using your seat and sticks EXCEPT when the lane is marked standing or kneeling. All shooters MUST shoot those lanes in the required positions. As a side note, a shooter may choose to shoot the kneeling lane standing (which is a harder position) if they are unable to kneel.
Below. A Forced Kneeling lane.
For your first couple of matches, the MD will usually squad you with a more experienced shooter. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Everyone will be more than willing to answer any questions, offer pointers and maybe even let you try out their equipment.
When you attend your first Field Target shooting match, you’re sure to look at all the other shooter’s equipment. But don’t be intimidated!
You will see everything from mild to WILD and all flavors in between. There have been plenty of matches from local monthly matches all the way up to the National level that have been won with mid-level, off the shelf equipment. Except for a match or two there are no big money prizes or high dollar sponsorships being handed out. Everyone is there to hone their skills and enjoy a day out with fellow airgun enthusiasts. It is almost always a very relaxed atmosphere.
Next time we’ll continue with a little bit more about the match, how it’s run and what to expect.