by B.B. Pelletier

This question comes up a lot these days, so I thought I would cover the sport in today’s post.

Field Target is a sport with specific rules
A lot of dealers who don’t know what field target is, have been calling it “field shooting,” as though it was a form of plinking. It isn’t. This is an organized sport with formal rules. The rules are simple. Targets are placed anywhere from 10 to 55 yards downrange of a designated firing line. The shooter, who must shoot from a designated firing line, has to completely knock over the target to win a point. The place where the target is located, along with its designated firing line, is called a lane.

A Field Target match consists of many targets in several lanes. There are usually two or three targets per lane and many lanes per match. Shooters shoot one or more shots at each target, and the total number of shots that may be fired constitutes the match. For example, a match might consist of 15 lanes with two targets per lane and two shots per target. That would be a 60-shot match, which is fairly standard, though nothing says a match has to be a certain size.

The hole in the bird is the kill zone.
To score, shoot through the kill zone without touching the sides, if possible.
A triggering device then allows the target to fall flat.

AAFTA is the governing body
The American Airgun Field Target Association governs all official matches in the U.S. Local clubs often make up special rules that their members want to follow, but AAFTA rules prevail in all regional and national matches.

Guns are not restricted
The AAFTA rules don’t limit the guns very much, but the sport itself is very limiting. A competitor quickly learns that PCPs dominate, which is why spring rifles are put in a separate piston class. There was an equipment race in the late 1990s, but today’s rifles are so accurate that you can’t really get much better. Ergonomics are very important, and the top competitors have rifles that fit their shooting styles very well.

All calibers may compete, but with the small kill zones on some targets, .177 has the best chance of winning. There was a race for power in the late 1990s, but it died out when the top competitors realized they didn’t need it. Shooters in the UK are restricted to 12 foot-pounds, which is an 8-grain .177 pellet moving under 825 f.p.s., yet they kick butt when they compete against Americans. So, knowing your rifle and pellet is more important than the pedigree of your outfit.

Where to shoot?
The main problem most shooters have is being too far from a club to compete. The solution to this is to grow a club of your own. Read the rules, buy a target or two and find somebody to shoot with you. I have seen several clubs start up with a half-dozen members. They first made their own targets and bought targets out of the match fees collected at every match. Usually, a club will charge $5 to $10 for match entry, and that money is plowed back unto more and better targets.

To make or buy targets, check the Organization link on the above AAFTA website. To find the location of AAFTA clubs near you, check the Resources link on AAFTA’s site. There are more targets available today than ever before, plus several sites list the detailed plans for building targets from common hardware.

You’ll learn more about Field Target by actually doing it than by reading the forums. One match is about as good a trainer as a year of forum reading. What you need is a safe place to shoot and some other shooters who are interested in seeing how good they can shoot.