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Whatever level you are as a cadet, you'll have the opportunity to try your hand at military skills and drills including rifle shooting.

At Close Range


Marksmanship goes a long way back in the history of Air Cadets and is one of our most popular activities. Think you can concentrate on distant targets and fire with consistent accuracy? It's not easy. It requires focus, agility and a very steady hand.

We’ll teach you to handle a variety of weapons safely. Firing is always done lying on your stomach (the prone position) at static targets. Progress through the course and you'll experience different types of weapons and could even take part in shooting competitions if you really prove your skills.

Ranges come in different shapes and sizes but all are in controlled conditions with full training on any weapon that you handle - safety is our top priority. To start with you'll be firing at targets that are fairly close - around 25m away. As you advance through weapons and your skill builds, you will fire at targets 100m or more away.

Weapon Types

No.8 Rifle

First up is the No.8 bolt action rifle. This is the weapon you'll begin with. It's a great all rounder that started life as the Enfield No 4 rifle, used as far back as World War II. Modified to have a shorter barrel and fire the .22 long rifle round, it no longer takes a box magazine holding 10 rounds - you feed in each round manually. It makes little noise, although ear defenders are always worn on the range, and is a great first step for your marksmanship skills.

'Dry training' is the first thing you'll do - exploring the No.8 in detail, and learning the commands and safety practices used on the range. After you've successfully passed the Weapon Handling Test (WHT) you'll be ready to progress.

Over 14? Then you can handle the L98A2 Cadet General Purpose (GP) rifle; modified from the L85A2 which is currently in active service.

It is re-cocked and reloaded using the gas created by the previous round fired meaning the next round is loaded for you. You'll have to be re-trained on this new weapon because it has different procedures and also uses higher velocity rounds, causing a louder noise when fired and a more robust kick into your shoulder! But don't worry! Our instructors will guide you through the training ensuring you are fully competent with the weapon before being allowed to live fire it!

Whichever weapon you are trained on, our instructors will make sure you feel safe and confident handling it before you are allowed on the range.

L98A2 Cadet GP Rifle

Types of Shooting

After you've familiarised yourself with your weapon and passed the WHT, the goal is to hit your target accurately and consistently. Sounds easy doesn't it? Try it for yourself and you'll understand why practice makes perfect. As a cadet shooter you'll typically be firing in one of four types of practice:


Grouping - You select a single point on the target and fire a number of rounds at it. The aim is for all rounds to form the smallest group possible. This is excellent for concentration and perfecting your technique. There's no limit to how long you can take when firing.

Deliberate Fire - Firing at a target with marked scoring rings, your score is marked depending on how near to the centre of the target you manage to get. For this you use either a large, single target or a card with 5 or 10 separate targets marked on it. When firing at a card with multiple targets, you aim to place one or two rounds on each of them. Take as long as you need - the goal is accuracy.

Rapid Fire - Just like it sounds, speed is key here. Get the round within the target area, but within a time limit. For instance, you may need to fire 10 rounds in 40 seconds with a No.8 rifle – not too easy when you have to manually reload after each shot.


Snap Fire - Now it gets more challenging. For this practice you have to get all rounds to fall within a target area. But, the targets only appear for a short time before vanishing again. You must hit the target before it disappears. By the end of the practice the target may have appeared for perhaps 5 seconds and disappeared up to 5 times. Just to make it even more difficult, it'll sometimes appear at random time intervals so you can't anticipate it!


Do well on all of these and you may find you have a talent for marksmanship! Starting to feel competitive? Why not enter one of our shooting competitions?

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