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Education / Training Introduction to Field Target – Part 4Squads

Introduction to Field Target – Part 4Squads

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1 – How it all began
Part 2 – Targets
Part 3 – Targets – Part 2

Before we begin I have an announcement. Pyramyd AIR now has a podcast radio program about airguns. Tom Gaylord will do periodic podcasts about airguns and airsoft, and it’s on the main blog page. Look in the right-hand column, under Links.

Today I will talk about the organization of the squad and how it serves a field target match.

What is a squad?
At a field target match, shooters are randomly placed in squads of at least two shooters, but three are ideal and sometimes even four are necessary at crowded matches. The squad moves from lane to lane as a group, though each shooter is competing by himself against all other shooters in the match. The purpose of the squad is to divide the labor of the match so things move faster and smoother. Labor? There is labor in a match?

Well, it isn’t debilitating, but yes, there is labor. While the shooter is busy shooting, someone else is keeping score. The shooter is too busy adjusting his position, getting pellets and adjusting his scope to be bothered with binoculars, a clipboard and pencil, so another squad member handles that duty. Binoculars, you say? Why binoculars? Well, they aren’t required by regulation, but I do recommend them. They make it easy to see if a target was hit properly or if the shooter has a possible alibi, or claim that the target should be scored, even though it didn’t fall. It’s easy to see out to 25 yards with the naked eye, but sometimes at 40 or 55 yards things happen to the targets that need to be witnessed. I always used binoculars for that. But even if the scorer doesn’t have them, it’s always best to have a second pair of eyes watch the target, in case of a malfunction.

Squad member scores so shooter can concentrate on one thing.

Dad acts as spotter for his son. Note the young man is shooting a PCP, while dad seems to have a TX200!

Shooters are trusted to keep score
So the shooters in a squad keep their own scores. Each shooter is scored by another squad member, of course, but we do trust the squads to be honest about the scoring. In four years of running matches, I never saw a single problem doing it that way. But when the match is elevated to the state level or higher, things have to be more formal, so other steps are taken that I will mention in a moment.

Another thing the squad members do is go downrange to fix the target if something happens. The shooter has taken no small amount of time to get settled in position, adjusting the bum bag (I will address this item of gear in a later post) and perhaps strapping into the harness (a later post). We don’t want to disturb him, once he gets settled in. But the squad members who are not shooting are free to do things like fix the targets. At my club we didn’t call the whole range cold when a target needed fixing – just the lanes adjacent that would ensure the safety of the personnel walking downrange. You have to use judgement when doing this, of course, but it’s pretty easy to see what needs to be done when you see the layout of the course.

Once a shooter gets trussed up like this we don’t want to waste his time with superfluous tasks. Let him shoot. Another TX200.

Every shooter is briefed about the course before the match, like how the day will go and various safety procedures. Then they are all deputized as safety officers – or at least that’s my recommendation. Anyone could call a cease-fire at my matches, and we had occasion to several times. One time a visitor was walking down the path and stepped in front of a shooter who was positioned well back of the firing point. A sharp squad member called an immediate cease fire, which drew everyone’s attention to the infraction (except the guy who committed it, of course). I then had a discussion with the walker and learned that the match was so quiet that he wasn’t fully aware of any danger! He had come to our match to see what field target was all about, and although the match was in full swing, it was quieter than a golf tournament, so he assumed nothing was happening. But that quick cease-fire call may have saved him from a trip to the emergency ward to get a 10.5-grain Crosman Premier dug out of his thigh!

Personal time
Another thing squads do is give each of their members time for things like refilling their guns, making repairs, eating lunch, hauling gear from the car, going to the bathroom and other personal things. If you are not keeping score, you have 5-7 minutes of time to yourself. The squad is like a team of buddies in combat. Every man is in the war for himself, but you help your buddies, too.

How squads are formed
As a match director, I found the best way to form squads was by random selection, but it wasn’t always that random. If the match was just a normal one with no special significance, I had no problem with people asking to be squadded together. People like to be with their friends, and part of the enjoyment of the sport is the friendship. Also, shooters will often band together so one can coach another during the match. There’s nothing wrong with that.

At a state-level match or higher, however, random squad formation is more important. At that level we want no hint or possibility of collusion during the match. So the buddies have to be broken up by random selection. And in the very high matches, separate scorers often are assigned to the squads.

The negative side of squads
While I never had a problem with squads being honest, there was another very real problem. There will always be certain shooters that nobody wants to be squadded with. We had one who was a motormouth. The guy never shut up! Others shooters would come to me privately and “take the duty” by volunteering to be squadded with this guy, but as match director I had to take my share of turns with him, too. He was a wonderful shot – just couldn’t zip his trap.

I bet those of you who haven’t yet shot a field target match haven’t given any thought to squads. Why would you? They aren’t anything glamorous or worthy of study. But squads are the core of running a match smoothly. Later on in this series I’m going to tell you how to start a field target club of your own, and you will need hints and tips like managing squads if you do.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

16 thoughts on “Introduction to Field Target – Part 4Squads”

  1. bb,
    i think the podcast is a great idea. im going to put it on my ipod and listes to it going into boston today. i also like it because ill finnaly learn how to pronounce some names like weihrauch. i just cant figure it out, 🙂
    i have a quick question. i know you did reviews on the hw50 but you never posted velocity or accuracy figures. i dont really care about velocity but what kind of accuracy do you think you could get on paper at 50 yards?thanks
    Nate in Mass

  2. Nate, I got the HW50 and so far I haven’t put more than 200 pellets through it yet with the diopter sight it came with. I am getting 1/2″-.65″ ctc groups in the basement with so so light at 48 ft. I have the post-bead sight in the front now and think with a sharp point or short flat top I could improve the groups as the bead Lolipop sight covers more than the size of the group and it is adjusted for the middle of the bead. With this sight the target must be an + shape with thick lines. I am very happy with the gun as it is not broken in yet and I have yet to clean the barrel or anything else for that matter.


  3. hi BB

    i have noticed that some guns like the condor, have many attachments. some of these, like the laser for example are placed in front of the scope. As a test i put a finger right in front of my scope and was amazed that it had NO effect on my viewing what so ever, basically, i couldnt see it. Would this have any effect on accuracy though?

  4. ktk
    thanks for the input. just curios as to what kind of pellets you useing. also do you have any plans to scope it or will you stick with the peep sight?
    Nate in Mass

  5. Oh man! The agony! The Pain! The waiting until the next episode! This is worse than having to wait until next Saturday for the next installment of the old black and white Batman in the theater when I was young!

    Go ahead BB. Drag it out. Make us suffer.

    But you better be working on the next multi-parter when you finish this one!



  6. Nate,

    I will be upgrading the supplied Gamo? made diopter to an Anschutz diopter. The pellet the HW 50 likes is the lowley CP Hollow Point. Tried several RWS, Beeman, H&N pellets with Premiers doing best. My HW 50 is 0.177 and is currently the only 0.177 I have the 4 other RWS, HW, AirArms in 0.22 and a 0.20 Sheridan.


  7. Nate,

    That last post is by no means a knock on the shootablilty of the supplied diopter AT All. It works great and the rubber hood helps a lot. One important thing I discovered is the need to remove the rear sight and using the pin from it put it in the rear diopter and one of the scope stop holes that keeps the sight from creeping back. The Anschutz takes even more work to keep solid. I am looking for a retro and improved aesthetic looking sight to complement the look of the gun.

    KTK in Racine

  8. its interesting….alot of people look at a scope, and they believe a larger objective lens gives them a wider view,…they have to remember they are looking through a 1″ or 30mm tube, and THAT (depending on their magnification, and tube length) determines their view. they think anything put in front of the “bell” will be in their line of sight…but like stated, larger “bells” just collect more light..

  9. BB,

    I wonder if you have reviewed the Ripley from England. They have claimed it to be the best ever made. I tried searching the archives but did not find a post on it.

    How does the Ripley perform in competition? What barrel is it using?



  10. BB

    one has to wonder about you. The amount of info you know is simply mind-blowing. You must be either:
    1. Not human, but instead, a Kray Super Computer
    2. A 400 year old Human thats been shooting for 390 years

    Awsome work BB, ive not yet seen you stumped by a question!! Hmmm now that sounds like a challenge lol

  11. Off topic…

    what actually contributes to a pellets BC? While its obvious that its shape does, is the weight important too? I ask as even .22LR bullets that LOOK the same have often got get different BCs….

  12. Dave,

    Who said Ripley was the best? Because I have heard that the Sportsmatch GC2 was supposed to be the best. And neither the Ripley nor the Sportsmatch will be seen in the top positions in a field target championship, or if they are, it will be a vintage-gun match.

    You see, these designs are older. In their day, both were great. But today, both have been surpassed.

    I have shot in matches next to Ripleys and they were no better than any of the other top PCPs. I even saw a titanium Ripley that was beaten badly in a match I was in (though not by me).

    I don’t know what barrel a Ripley uses, but all the top PCPs use a barrel from FWB, Anschutz, BSA or Lothar Walther.

    You need to look at the USFT, which just took four of the top five places at the U.S. Nationals. It is probably the top gun in the world today.


  13. Off topic,

    The shape of a projectile is more important than the weight. .30-caliber spitzers that weigh an identical 125-grains will have a wide variation in BC because one is a flat base with a short ogive while the other is a boattail with a long, slender point.

    Pay attention to the shape first, and then the weight.


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