Field Target began in the United Kingdom in the early 1980’s. It was started as a hunting simulation sport shot solely with air rifles. The first matches were held using paper targets. As the sport grew, the targets and the equipment improved. The introduction of metal silhouette targets, and eventually a metal silhouette with a kill zone have brought the targets into the current era.
In the early/mid 80’s the game made it’s way across pond to the United States. Clubs began popping up all over the US, with the first clubs forming on the west coast in California. In 1991, there was enough interest to host a World Championship between the US and UK. Field Target legend Nick Jenkinson won the title and followed it up in 1992 with a repeat championship. England and the United States traded hosting the World Championships for the first few years until other countries began entering the World Field Target Federation (WFTF).
In the US, the game has now spread nationwide under the governance of the American Airgun Field Target Association (AAFTA). In the US, there are a 6 different classes that one can shoot in with different restrictions and rules. Hunter class, Open class and WFTF or International class are the current classes and can be shot in either PCP or Piston formats. If you are interested in getting involved in Field Target or want to find a club close to you, visit AAFTA online at www.aafta.org.
In the beginning, shooters used break barrel spring piston rifles and 4x magnification scopes. As technology improved, the introduction of under lever spring piston rifles and Pre-charged pneumatic rifles took the game by storm! Companies like Weihrauch, with the HW77, took over the game with their highly accurate under lever design. Eventually, Daystate and Air Arms entered the PCP market and the arms race was on! These guns introduced a new degree of accuracy that most shooters could only have dreamed of.<
Scopes improved as well. By implementing higher magnification scopes with adjustable parallax, shooters began developing the ability to range find targets. This is one of the driving theme’s in the game today. We see scopes as high as 80x magnification being used today.
Today, targets can be placed anywhere from 10 yards all the way out to 55 yards. Kill zone’s can range from 3/8″ to as large as 1.5″ in sanctioned competitions. Matches can range from 40-60 shots for a local club match, 100-120 shots for a Grand Prix series match or even 150 shots for a World Championship. Typically, Grand Prix events span over the course of one weekend with the season generally starting in March and ending in October.