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Education / Training Starting your own field target club: Scoring

Starting your own field target club: Scoring

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Scoring field target is really what the game is all about, because every shooter is in it for the score. And, all of you know by now that successfully knocking down a target gives the shooter a point, just as leaving it standing earns no point. What could be simpler than that?

What if the target falls halfway back, or not even halfway, but the paddle moves out of the kill zone? What if the paddle falls all the way back, but the target continues to stand? What if the paddle goes back as if to fall, then comes right back to where it started? I’ve seen all of these things in a match and had to make a decision or ruling about them so the match could continue.

The alibi
When a target doesn’t behave as it’s designed to, or whenever a shooter thinks it isn’t behaving as it ought to, he can call the shot an alibi. He marks his scorecard with an alibi for that target and, if possible, tells the match director so he can get a ruling and possibly a fix. If he’s shooting twice at every target, he can mark the number of times the target misbehaved. It may have been fine for one shot but an alibi for the other.

When there’s an alibi, the match director must decide what to do about it. If the target seems to be malfunctioning and there’s a replacement available, he can stop the match and swap targets; but that slows the match, and the people who shot before the swap will feel slighted if they didn’t get a perfect score. Or, the match director can declare that target to be out of the match and nobody will get credit for shooting it. That’s the best way to handle it in most cases. However, beware of “Alibi Ike.”

Alibi Ike
Alibi Ike is an age-old shooting nickname for that shooter who seems to have more problems than anyone else. Run a few matches, and you’ll meet him. He takes longer to shoot, has problems with just about everything and will always have the most alibis in a match. Once I figured this out, I learned to let other good shooters have a go at the “bad” target before knocking it out of the match. I was lucky in having a half-dozen nationally-ranked shooters at my club, any one of whom could prove or disprove the alibi with one shot.

Beware of the intermittent alibi
When a target is emplaced poorly, it may have marginal performance. This is especially true for targets that use gravity to operate. A 20 foot-pound gun may smack it down, while a 12 foot-pounder may not. I test every target with a 3 foot-pound air pistol after emplacement, but constant tugging on the reset string can move them around after awhile.

The scorecard has a place at the top to record the shooter’s name, his rifle, scope and pellet (people always want to know this after the match) the date and the lane his squad starts on.

The scoring section has a place to register hits and misses for every target and lane, as well as the total hits for that lane. At the bottom of the card or sheet is a place for all the lane scores to be totaled. I had shooters mark their alibis with a note in the margin on the same line as the lane where it happened.


This is what my scorecard looked like. We had 12 lanes with three targets on most of them and two shots per target, so each had a row like this. This is lane 11, which is worth as much as 6 points.  Near, middle and far refer to the targets on each lane. An X means a hit and an O means a miss.

We put the three scorecards for each squad on a clipboard with a pencil for scoring. They received the clipboard at the match director’s briefing. It was up to them to keep their own scores. At the end of the match, they turned in the clipboard and the scorecard was checked by the match scorer (usually my wife). She would count all the hits for each lane and found a surprising number of errors in every match. Once they were confirmed, the scores were entered on a tally sheet for the match and then prizes were awarded.

I found that shooters around the country were very interested in the results of our match, because they wanted to track certain shooters. Getting the scores up on our website was another important task. I tried to get them up within a few days of the match. If I didn’t, the phone started ringing.

That’s about it for running a club. There’s a lot more, of course, but they’re the kinds of things you learn by doing. Next, I’ll discuss the use of scopes in field target and the pros and cons of adjusting the elevation for every shot versus holding over.

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.

21 thoughts on “Starting your own field target club: Scoring”

  1. B.B.,

    Field target sounds like fun, unless you’re a director. Used to shoot skeet years ago. Field target sounds similar.

    With Roanoke coming up fast I have a suggestion for an easy article. One you’ve mostly written….You are fortunate to have some amazingly rare guns in your personal collection. You were kind enough to share details about the rare HW 55 SF. Another gun that has to be equally rare is the enshrined fwb 124. Rare not because of the gun but because of the great lengths a previous owner went to in an attempt to preserve this gun. There can’t be another one. Reminds me of the 1960’s vintage corvette that was found up on blocks with less than 100 miles on the odometer a few years back. Great article in the newspaper about the car. Your already written article made me wonder, are there any current models that would warrant this “time capsule” attempt at preservation and what would be a correct way to store a gun long term.

    If you haven’t already found one, I wish you great luck in your search for the correct sights to install onto the HW 55 SF. Maybe at Roanoke?


  2. Kevin,

    I am adding “Time-capsule airguns” to the list of blogs from the road. I can already think of several, including that beautiful BSF S70 I had to pass on at Little Rock in order to get the HW55 SF.

    As for the rear sight, I do have one from the 1980s, but I’m not sure it’s correct for a 1960s gun. So I will be looking.



  3. Good Morning B.B. & All,

    Do you choose who will be in each "squad"? Or do they get to choose who they shoot with?

    It seems like the match director could put a top shooter with the "Alibi Ike", just to keep him in line..

    It sounds like using the highest quality targets, will save a lot of headaches. I'm glad I got the ones from "After Hours Target Co."..

    I'm not too sure how well the Gamo field targets will hold up, we will see, they look so flimsy compared to the ones from Dick at After Hours Target Co. Of course they cost about 1/4 as much too…
    Do you think I should use them close up or far away, meaning where will they get the least abuse, I guess the far away, less chance to get knocked down, but also more string and distance to reset from… so I don't know…

    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  4. Wayne,

    Squadding is an art. I usually let shooters pick their own partners, which takes care of 75 percent of the shooters, but I have to put Alibi Ike on a very special squad. Sometimes a top shooter will be bothered by Ike, so I often put him in my own squad. And if there is a two-shooter squad, he goes there, because of the extra time he always takes. You want to try to keep the squads from crashing into each other on the course if you can.

    As for the Gamo targets, yes, putting them far away will preserve them, I think. They have large kill zones, so that helps you. Of course they will probably also have more reset problems than the After Hours targets, too, which becomes a pain if they are 40 yards from the line.

    Do you still plan on attending my field target course next year, if I can get enough shooters for a class?


  5. B.B.

    The managing of people is an extra dimension to shooting that sounds like a hassle. On my last two (monthly) trips to the range, the range officer has screamed at someone for handling their weapon while people were downrange. On one occasion, he threatened to throw the guy out the front gate. Anyway, there is a never-ending supply of clueless people out there who have to be watched.

    I’m trying to get a handle on the scale of the financial meltdown. I’ve been reading about one Richard Fuld, former CEO of Lehman Brothers. Reports are that on the day the collapse of the company was announced, he went to the company gym and while walking on the treadmill was knocked cold by one of the employees. He was also haled before a congressional committee which gave him a rough time, and when he exited the Capitol, people were waving pink signs labeled “Crook” around him. But he persevered and walked off back to the 480 million dollars that he made as CEO. I’m wondering if this amount would buy up the entire airgun industry in the U.S. Would this amount equal the worth of Daisy, Crosman, and Air Force?


  6. B.B.

    Yes, and I’m sure it leaves him no time for appreciating the full shooting potential of even the modestly priced B30.

    Wayne, I had quite a scare last night that almost put our showdown in jeopardy. I was shooting away with the B30 when suddenly it began to shudder terribly and make a very strange sound that I cannot even describe–sort of a muted howl of agony. As has been my habit in these situations, I very stupidly kept blasting away–at least 10 shots–hoping it would clear itself up. It did not and while some pellets were getting out of the barrel, many apparently did not. Anyway, it was like one of those Friday the 13th moments when the nightmare returns.

    I put a cleaning rod down the barrel and poked out one badly mangled pellet. What happened to the others that didn’t make it out the barrel I do not know. But the gun worked perfectly afterwards. So another nightmare has been avoided and we’ll even give the B30 an extra point for durability for coming through that episode. I have no idea what caused it.

    To get yourself in the mood for the showdown, you can have a look at nbcolympics.com for a video of the shoot off for the gold medal in Olympic archery in Beijing. The format is that the two leaders, a guy from South Korea and one from Ukraine, would fire 12 arrows each in sets of three, alternating each shot, at a target 70 yards away. It was totally head-to-head with maximum pressure and no hiding. The 10 ring at that distance must have been only a couple inches.

    The two were shooting mostly 9’s with a few 10’s. Then the S. Korean shooter nosed ahead with a few 10’s. It was his to lose. But in the final set of three, he cracked psychologically and shot an 8 to drop one point to the Ukrainian guy and lose the match. I wish airgun or rifle shooting could have a format that was this dramatic.

    And who says rainbowing your shots can’t be fun and accurate. From the camera angle, it looked like these arrows were arcing several feet in the air on their trajectory. You need to download a Silverlight plug-in to watch the videos but it’s all set up for you and very easy to do.


  7. B.B.

    I will make a supreme effort to make it to the next try at a class for field target set! Even though I’ll be set up by then… I’d still like to meet everybody and learn shooting skills…
    Who knows maybe a Field Target contest will be going on, close by or on the way, and I could meet Tim from Mac1 and Billy Lo in person too.. Why don’t you arrange an event to bring in the “pros from dover” as well as the class..

    I still say the FT groups of clubs that hold the contests, should add video of the shooters, like a golf contest. And post them on their websites, the extra traffic to the site would allow revenues from advertisers.. and I think really increase interest in the sport.

    Who knows, someday a Cable station might pickup the Air Rifle Contests, it has to be as much fun to watch as poker..


  8. For those who want to see the archery video referenced by Matt61 above (yes,it’s very good), but don’t want to look around:

    – Go to http://www.nbcolympics.com

    – Click on the “VIDEO” tab, just below the top banner

    – Scroll down the resulting screen to the “Search Video” section

    – Use the “By Sport” pull-down to select “Archery”. The search results will update automatically.

    – The first row of results will include “Men’s Gold Medal Match”; click this video.

    – The viewer will appear. The first time you go to this page, it will ask if you want to load the Silverlight plug-in. You do. It’s a quick an painless install; no reboot required (at least for my system).

    – Enjoy intense competition! The concentration visible on their faces in simply amazing.

  9. Matt,

    More exciting than the Olympic airgun broadcasts!?! How can that be? They really went out of their way to make a spectator-neutral sport as dry as possible, didn’t they? I’ve had more excitement waiting for brush-piles to decompose.

  10. Matt61,

    Maybe the pellet got mangled in the loading process, and couldn't make it out.. who knows, probably B.B.!!

    Well like I said, I put the scopes on cowboy Marlin 336s 30/30s and the long range Ruger M77 .270…. so it's off with Josh and Nate to sight them in at the "Big Boys" range.

    I have to admit that I pump about 1,000 times more adrenaline shooting the big boys over the Air rifles..

    BTW, the other night after pooping out with 3/4" 20 yrd groups in the benchrest with the Avenger 1100 (after Randy did a lot better)..

    I put the Air Arms S410 in the benchrest to check the pellets and myself out.. Almost all 25 – 5 shots groups were 1/4" groups, just a few at 3/8" as I ran out of air..(50 bar) So, it wasn't the pellets, it was my technique!! Poopy again, more practice with the God Awful Springers… ICK.. just to say I could beat you, what am I doing here…Oh well such is life..


  11. Wayne

    Have you shot your S410 at 50 yards from a Field Target position.
    I shot 3 five shot groups at 50 yards with my Talon in FT position and they were 7/8″, 1 3/16″, and 1″. I would have shot more but I didn’t have time. I don’t shoot much at 20 yards with my Talon but I will and see how they compare to your S410.


  12. maybe a mangled pellet from a loading glitch lodged in the barrel.it was allowing too mutch pressure to blow by it to clear it.the passing pressure vibrated the pellet on its side like a wind instrument reed?no theory for the vanishing followup shots though…frankb

  13. Wayne,

    If you’re getting groups like that with your S410, you should probably go out further as jeff suggested. Someone on the blog claimed to be able to make regular hits at 100 yards with a Talon, and I bet the S410 could do that.

    Anyway, accuracy is all relative. I’m working on my David and Goliath slinging. (Get a high quality sling for $10 from Slinging.org or directions on how to make your own.) Right now, my target is a buffalo-sized mound of dirt at 20 yards and when I can hit that I’m ecstatic.

    I like the theory of the mangled pellet. As for the other pellets, maybe they fell out when I wasn’t looking as I used the cleaning rod.


  14. BG_Farmer,

    Yes, try as I might, I could not get interested in the videos of shooting. I couldn’t even figure out when they released the shot which is probably a credit to their shooting technique. Did you find out how Matt Emmons muffed his chance at the gold medal for the second Olympics in a row? I understand in Athens, he shot at the wrong target (prompting his future wife to approach him, so that’s not such a bad thing). But what happened to him this time?


  15. Matt,

    I’m already practicing for 2012, assuming “hillbilly turkey shoot” gets accepted by the IOC, so video coverage won’t be a worry next time.

    A “misfire” on his final shot (?) is all I could find about Emmons.

  16. Well, 18 comments, and one of them is this one! So interesting..NOT!

    (Yawn) is this part 5 odr 6? Maybe bb has got it out of his syetme…starting a feild club..wow, just what everybody wants to hear about.

  17. David,

    Lucky for you to have known about this sport for so long. It’s so much fun. As the first projectile weapon, it should have broad appeal to all shooters. And you cannot beat the reliability of the mechanism or the cheap ammo.

    Wayne, if firearms get your blood going, I have the very thing for you. Get a surplus M1 Garand from the Civilian Marksmanship Program. Most people balk at the application process, but it’s not difficult and very easy for you. The main part is getting a shooting range officer to fill out a checklist to witness that you can follow safe shooting practices. Airguns qualify. In case they won’t let you fill out your own application, just have one of your partners watch you doing what you do every day and fill it out. That and $500 will get you a rifle within a month or so, and there’s no hassle with an FFL dealer. It comes right to your door. Don’t delay. The rack grade models I bought are all gone, but they have all the more expensive categories. For $600, you can get a service grade rifle that is ready to go. You can leave it at that if you want. Or you can send it off to Clint Fowler. For $500, he will have it shooting sub MOA from a machine rest and he can rebuild the rifle however you want. The CMP also has 60 million rounds of good quality Greek surplus ammo for 30 cents a round. You could acquire a lifetime supply easily enough.

    The basic Garand design is unsurpassed for 30 caliber service rifles; I’ve read about other good designs that may be comparable but nothing to surpass it in any positive, measurable way. So, you’ll have the most firepower you can get short of a machine gun. And the bears will go running off the mountain once they get a whiff of this thing. They will if they know what’s good for them.


  18. Good Evening B.B. An off the wall question, maybe. Something to ponder while heading to Roanoak. Has anyone done anything with heavy for caliber pellets and maybe a 1 in 10 twist in the barrel. Sorta like the 70-80 grain .224 or the 140 grain 6.5mm bullet. Could maybe add many yards to the range of like a Condor. Just a thought that I’d like to try if I knew how–Mr B.

  19. Mr. B.,

    It’s not an off-the-wall question at all. I have asked the same thing for years.

    The answer is no. Diabolo pellets don’t require the extra spin rate. They are mostly stabilized by the drag on them, not by spin. When we switch to solid “pellets” which are really bullets, we encounter stability issues.

    A Condor will stabilize any diabolo pellet out farther than it will shoot accurately (beyond 150 yards). But the solid bullets are a different story.

    Yes, the extra-heavy pellets don’t stabilize well in lower-powered guns, but they should not be used in them. Are you aware that there is a .22 long rifle cartridge made with a 60-grain bullet that doesn’t stabilize in most .22s? It needs a 1:10 twist and a strong bolt action mechanism in order to work right. Pretty specialized and the sales are very low.


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