Starting your own field target club: Getting and maintaining targets

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

I started this series for Wayne in Ashland, but since we won’t be running the Pyramyd Air field target course this year, I am going to present as many of the classroom segments of the course as possible in the blog. This is for anyone who wants to shoot field target but doesn’t have a place to do it.

In Part 1, I told you how to start a club and how to find land for the field target course. Let me add that if you can’t find as much land as you think you need, there are things you can do creatively to expand the use of very little land. Let’s suppose that you can get access to a very small patch of land. It’s 100 feet wide by 200 feet deep – that’s less than one-half acre, or not much larger than a suburban tract house lot. But, it’s large enough to hold a field target match under the right conditions.

If the downrange area (the area beyond the end of the plot and about the same distance to either side of downrange) is safe from accidental intrusion (people or pets walking through), you can fit about 7 or 8 field target lanes in the 100 feet without too much crowding. The 200 feet is the depth of your lanes, but here is a trick to multiply the number of lanes. Use two different firing points on each lane! I’ve drawn a diagram to make it clear how you do that. First everyone walks down path one, then they all walk down path two and engage the same targets from different firing points. Obviously the reset strings have to run back to the firing point farthest to the rear.

This small course is crowded but not overly so. By putting some targets in trees you can keep things interesting. Use the terrain to help divide the lanes.

How 16 targets become 64
If you count the number of targets on our hypothetical course, you’ll see there are 16. But you will have each shooter fire two shots at each target, so that’s 32. And there are two different paths to shoot from, so that makes a total of 64 shots we can get from just 16 field targets.

But where do I get my FIRST target?
I currently own about 10 field targets, but it took several years for me to acquire that many. There was a time when I had none. You read in the first part about how I was able to borrow 20 field targets from another field target club in my area, but what if you don’t have one of those nearby? Well, do you remember the friend I told you to find? Here’s where he pays off. You and your friend hold a field target-making party. Then you follow the plans set forth in the article on the AAFTA website, How to make field targets.

You can also buy field targets, but here’s a tip. Don’t buy too many of any one kind until you have time to evaluate them. At DIFTA, we found that targets from some makers were finicky and difficult to emplace and keep running (reliably) while others were no trouble at all. Once we learned what the good ones were, we bought them exclusively. There are more good field target makers today than ever before. Back in the 1990s, Rick Stoutenberg made targets that would function in almost any sort of situation. I don’t know if he still makes them, but if he does, he’s a great resource. Dick Otten’s After Hours target company still makes targets, and his mechanisms are different but just as reliable as Rick’s.

Of course, you can also buy ready-made Gamo field targets from Pyramyd Air. At just \$20 apiece, these are a bargain. I’ve never used them so I can’t comment on how reliable they are, but they have very good customer reviews.

The good thing about Gamo targets, besides the low price, is the ability to change the target faceplate with another animal silhouette. You can have quite a few different types of animals. They come with a huge 2-1/2″ kill zone, but each target also comes with a set of kill-zone reducers of 1-1/8″, 3/4″, 1/2″ and 1/4″ – all very handy FT sizes. And, the replacement target faces also come with a set of kill-zone reducers.

You have to make money for the club
This ties in directly with the targets and other equipment. It all costs money. Nothing is terribly expensive, but 10 Gamo targets represents \$200, and nobody is going to want to spend their own money that way. So, you charge for shooters to shoot every match. At DIFTA, we charged \$10 a match, but we discounted \$5 to those who helped set up or run the course. We didn’t make a bucket of money, but it was enough to buy and maintain targets. We also started an airgun show that generated several thousand dollars in revenue. That went to the local Izaak Walton league, but we were favorably considered whenever we requested funds for our projects. However, if you feed cash directly into the FT club, it’s yours to spend as you desire.

What do I mean by target maintenance?
The field targets do have a little maintenance, depending on the models you have. Lubrication of the hinge is the big one and general cleaning (knocking the dirt off) is the rest. But you also have target reset strings and hardware that has to be made and maintained all the time. You will start breaking reset strings in your first match, so some small amount of money will have to be spent on a regular basis. I used to paint the targets before each match and during the match at the lunch break, so the cans of flat black and international orange paint are a small ongoing expense. Every little thing adds up, and you’ll want to have a budget to draw upon. In the beginning, the money comes out of the founder’s pockets, and when you start holding matches they get repaid, plus you build a cash fund for club operations.

Next time, I’ll tell you a lot more about the targets – like emplacing them, permanent stands (these are great!), reset string hardware and the art of maintaining a reliable field target.

23 thoughts on “Starting your own field target club: Getting and maintaining targets”

1. Anonymous

Sorry for posting this twice, but I am unable to locate my first post.
I am wanting to purchase a .22 cal air rifle for hunting. I have a RWS 350 in .177 cal and love the build and everything about the gun except for the weight/length. I can shoot it very accurately from the bench, but find it very hard to hold the gun steady free handed .
I am thinking about getting the RWS 52, or the RWS 460 but I am concered that it will be hard to hold steady as well. But I am thinking that with both these guns (52 and 460) being shorter than the 350 that it might help. My main question is: Is the 52 or 460 easier to hold steady free handed than the RWS 350? Any advice input or other springer type airguns recommendation’s is greatly appreciated.
Thanks for all the hard work you and everyone else puts into this blog.

2. Gary

Good morning, B.B.;

Off topic, but I guess that’s o.k.? A long time ago you mentioned a review of the Evanix pistol, or the line of rifles. I’m wondering if that was still possible?

I have the pistol and it is very well made, but seems extremely sensative to pressure. It “strings” the shots diagonally in a quite consistant manner(sp.?), which makes it unsuited for pest control,as I intended. Not so inaccurate you can’t, say, hit an eastern woodchuck, but you can’t rely on a one shot kill. Don’t want ’em in my garden, but don’t want to make ’em suffer,either.

On the other hand, a Dragon .50 at 40 or so yards is the propper tool for that job…

Thanks for your time, as always; Gary Little

3. Gary,

The Evanix pistol has a very small reservoir and uses a lot of air per shot. So you basically get 6 shots before needing a refill.

Evanix is changing all their models and I am awaiting the new rifle models fror testing. As soon as they get around to thew pistols I will review them as well.

Ten years ago I reviewed a different type pf AR-6 pistol. That was before Evanix owned the company. This pistol was very long and got about 15 shots at 50 foot-pounds. But it was the size of a carbine.

B.B.

4. Anonymous

BB,

Did you talked about airgun silhouette shooting yet? Such as how to setup a course, how to start a silhouette airgun club, and where to buy (or make) targets that doesn’t break apart or prone to damage.

Joe

5. Joe,

No, I haven’t touched silhouette, because I don’t shoot it. We need a good guest blogger.

B.B.

6. Anonymous

Joe,

I used to shoot small metal silhouette targets on my porch (it was 44′ long) with both a Crosman 600 and an SSP250, in the ’90s. It was practice for firearms silhouette shooting, as there was a great IHMSA range about 20 mins down the road. I really got into the thing, to the point where I bought both .22 LR and wildcat 7mm bbls (which I handloaded for) for my T/C Contender pistol, which is what us ‘serious’ IHMSA sorts used back then. Fun.

Googling “airgun silhouette shooting organization” should get you the info you need.

Good luck,

–Joe B.

7. Anonymous

BB and Joe B.,

Since this Blog is about airguns and airgun shooting, I thought it may be interesting to cover airgun silhouette as well. It may be interesting to find out how many airgun silhouette shooters compare to FT shooters. Unlike FT shooting, Airgun silhouette is an NRA competition event(s).

Joe

8. BG_Farmer

BB and others,
Add me to the list of those interested in silhouette shooting. It seems a lot less demanding equipment-wise to get into than FT and offhand is the standard position. Isn’t there usually a separate class for iron sights, as well? I have noticed that the standard airgun distances for the targets seem a little patronizing to the more powerful airguns available now, though, especially with any kind of scope.

It also seems like more modern airguns should be able to shoot “smallbore” targets/rules (offhand only or 3P), for a variation from 10M targets, but I haven’t heard or read of anyone doing that in an organized fashion.

9. BG_Farmer,

While air rifle are used for airgun silhouette, air pistols are far more common. And the equipment ranges from simple to complex.

Most pistols are 10-meter pistols and they mount rifle scopes.

Okay, I will blog it.

B.B.

10. Any chance we could get a Gamo Delta review?

Since the Baikal 60/61 is unavailable I am being forced to think of other possibilities to teach my kids to shoot. The Gamo trigger may not be like the Baikal but it would be good for safety at first and it seems it can latter be easily modified.

11. rimugu,

I’m starting the Recon review tomorrow. I don’t have a Delta on hand so it will be several months before I get to it.

B.B.

12. Anonymous

B.B.

If shooting tin cans is any indication, the silhouette and field targets should be great fun.

I just realized that the Olympics are only weeks away. After reviewing the shooting events, I believe that the one that I would like to see most is the pentathlon. Who in the world would train for such unrelated events? I could see practicing with an air pistol enough to get reasonably good. And I could possibly fence, run and swim without embarrassing myself, but riding a horse is something else entirely.

Matt61

13. Mike Tipton

Hi Matt61 the following desecribes the “modern penthalon” in Wikipedia: The modern pentathlon was invented by the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. As the events of the ancient pentathlon were modeled after the skills of the ideal soldier of that time, Coubertin created the contest to simulate the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: he must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with pistol and sword, swim, and run.

George Patton came in 5th in the Modern Pentathlon in 1912. The story is that he would have come in first, except that his 38 service revolver made a ragged hole in the target and the judges were unable to account for all the rounds and scored one as a total miss.

Mike T.

14. Anonymous

B.B., Q #1 – What are you seeing/hearing about the airgun industry’s recent growth? I hope it gets bigger and we see more field target clubs and other airgun events popping up. I have a ball shooting alone and with friends and family but some good old fashioned competition would be nice once in a while.
Q #2 – I have posted on this blog a couple of times in the past few weeks making reference to my older RWS Mod.26. I just decided to research it a little and see what its history is and what others have said about it in the past. I spent some time looking for any mention of it on the web to no avail (including in this blog’s archives). I had to look at the box, manual and gun to make sure I was even correct in thinking it is a 26 (which it is). I assume its history is nothing spectacular but was wondering if you could comment on this rifle? Any info you have time to post will be much appreciated!

Best regards,

Steve

15. twotalon

B.B.
I thought that muzzle loader shooting on sihlouettes was fun.
They were standard pistol targets out to 100 yds.
Iron (open) sights only, patched round ball.
Tough with a .36. Had to hit them just right to knock them over.
A .50 or bigger would wack them pretty good.

twotalon

16. Steve,

Airguns are growing faster than ever here in the U.S. They are pretty mature in the UK and Europe, where firearms are more difficult to own and use.

The Diana models after WW II were the 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27 and 35. In the 1980s they were replaced with the 24, 26, 28 and 34, 36, and 38.

Today Diana makes the 21, 240, 28, 31 (called the 34 Panther in the U.S.), 34 and the 350 magnum.

As you see, the 26, which was a newer version of the old 25/27 dropped out of the lineup. The 26 was made from 1984 to 1992.

B.B.

17. wayne

B.B.
Thanks for the blog…
We are really ready to move forward on our “club”…..We are going to use the LLC model. All members will buy into the company with cash or labor…we have 10 of the 19 members of our raised bed LLC. that are going to “found” the “Ashland Air Rifle Range and Rentals LLC”..

We have lots of room, 3 to 5 acres…lots of oak trees….we plan to have a paint ball court and air soft as well….we want to cover all customer bases……

We are thinking people need to buy a month, year or lifetime membership…….
What would you be willing to pay people, to create the best of all these three air gun areas?…..the most fun possible……it sounds like people spend a lot to enjoy these hobbies….

What does it look like and how much is fair for the membership fees……..keep in mind that the members share in the growth of the company, “Club” as the value of the company goes up…..

What do you think? Help me out here…

Wayne,
Ashland Air Rifle Range

18. Hia all,
I have played with some informal airgun silhouette on and off since the 80’s. Just receantly I took a few sets of steel airgun animals up to my parents place in the Catskills NY. I have a lot of room to shoot there. I looked up some info and it seems the Beeman and Crosman targets are the correct size.

Place the chicken at 20 yards.

Place the Turkey at 30 yards.

Place the Boar at 36 yards.

Place the Ram at 45 yards.

I was shooting my Remington Genesis 1000x with Gamo Tomahawksand doing ok from a bench. My nephew and I had a great time shooting. We both found it super fun and much harder then it looks and sounds.

That little chicken starts to look real small at 20 yards. You think the Ram will be a give in, but at 46 yards its small.

But what a blast. I need another weekend off to run up there again.

I just picked up a Benjamin Discovery with pump new for \$299. BB This is the same dealer I got the other deals from.

The rifle is Awsome – getting 19 Ft. Lbs with Kodiaks. Tried 12 diffrent pellet at my 5 yard range and got 1 hole 5 shot groups with all of them. I cant wait to strecth its legs out. Im expecting great things from this rifle.

Disco say hello to EL’ Ram they will meetsoon at the 46 yard line.

JoeG from Jersey

19. BG_Farmer

JoeG,
I’ve got the Beeman animals, too. Not saying they’re easy, but definitely viable even with springer and open sights at ranges you mention. Lots of fun, too. Sometimes I just put them all at same range: 20 yards, everything but chicken is pretty easy; 30 yards, chicken impossible; 40 yards, forget everything but ram and pig! I would like to brag that I can hit the chicken at 50 yards, but the ram is about it at that range. Need to get a scope back on, but I’m having more fun without it.

20. Wayne,

My Izaak Walton membership was \$95 per year, and that got me unlimited access to the firing ranges (firearms) and airgun ranges. We had over 900 active members and we had many fundraisers each year to keep the place going. The five trap ranges were the largest moneymaker and the sale of Christmas trees was second.

Your paintball field will be a good moneymaker for you, but the insurance will be high.

B.B.

21. wayne

B.B.

Thank you..that helps a lot..that is a great place to start from….insurance is the next big hurdle.

Just got back into the office.. and so the blog…very busy in both businesses….
Can you comment on shooting positions…I was on David Slade’s site and saw him sitting with arms crossed on knees and the rifle laying in vee of his left arm and his left hand holding his right forearm.
I have been practicing it at 50 yrds. with the TX200…it works great…busting the 2″ orange plaster disks pretty easy. then even hitting the 3/4″ chips now and then, after I got it down…..I don’t know if that is good or not…but it is the best this nubi has done so far…what size hole on the 50yd target? in the sitting position?
Some photos of the champs in the different positions would be great…and the size of the targets in that lane….
The AAFTA seems to leave it up the the match director sort of as far as I can tell…can you elaborate…(thanks for the link)

Wayne,
Ashland Air Rifle Range

22. Wayne,

The crossed-arm hold is pretty standard. The other two holds are the rifle across the forearm and the rifle rested on the knee with a pad for protection.

Yes, AAFTA allows the match director to decide where the target go. But he looks for a placement of kill zone sizes and ranges that allow most shooters to average 50 percent, and better shooters to average 75 percent on the course. Two or three targets have to be real bears to keep the experts working. In three years and maybe 30 matches at DIFTA I only had one shooter clean the course one time. That’s what you strive for.

B.B.