So you want to start a field target club, GREAT! This page will give you some ideas on how to go about starting a club. Unfortunately there isn't any one sure fire formula to starting a club. Below you will find some ideas and hints as to how to go about doing it. Some other very good resources are the AAFTA Rules, Guidelines, and By-Laws found in the Official AAFTA Handbook.
If you have any further hints on starting a club, please email them to AAFTA, thanks.
Below is a general list of things that you will need for your matches:
The practice targets are used before the match for the shooters to warm up and sight in their airguns. Just about any target can be used for practicing. Some clubs go to elaborate extremes printing up fancy paper target grids while others just put out unpainted steel plates at varied distances for people to shoot and then just aim at their pellet marks. Please check the Resources for downloadable paper templates in .pdf format that you can print out and use. If you decide to design your own target, here are a few things to keep in mind. Sight in is very important but many shooters also use the sight in time as a relaxer before they shoot to get their mental game in place. Providing a collection of dots and circles and grids allows everyone to find the type of target that suits them best for both sight-in and plinking. Be sure to provide as many possible aim points on a single page as you can to keep the paper usable for the shooters longer. If you only have a few aim points then once those gets shot up you are out of use for that page. Better to have smaller dots and grids interspersed through the larger targets to give alternate sight-in points for your shooters.
Some type of target holder should be provided. Anything that can hold a target can be used. You should plan on having at least one target holder for each distance between 10-50 yards in 5 yards increments. A few extra holders are nice to have on hand in case someone wants to place one at another distance. Some simple design would be a frame made of 1x2 wood with tacks or staples to mount the targets. Another nice design is to use 1/4" rod bent in a U shape. The legs can be stuck into the ground and the targets clipped onto the rod at the top and sides with some large black paper clips. A 6' piece of rod works very nicely for this.
Of the list above, the field targets will be the most difficult to acquire. There are only a few suppliers/manufacturers of field targets and they can cost from $20-60 each. The Gamo targets are the least expensive and are excellent for starting a club on a limited budget. An alternative to buying targets is to make your own. You can purchase a few targets and simply copy them or you can create your own. One way to get started is to make some targets out of wood. These targets can be made with tools that a lot of people have around the house. They typically cost under $10 each and they work very well. By making a batch of these targets, you can begin holding matches. As you hold matches and your club grows, you can purchase more targets.
Target Spikes or Anchors
To hold the targets down during a match, you will need some type of spikes. Spikes can be large nails or pieces of L shaped rods. The targets normally have holes in the bases that the spikes are inserted through and hammered into the ground. What spike you use depends on the soil in your area. Many clubs use 12" nails (spike) that you can purchase at a local hardware or home improvement store. Others use 1/4" rods cut down to 12"-18" lengths with one end bent 90 degrees. Rod like this can be purchased at home improvement stores and many times at welding shops.
To reset the targets, a reset string will needed for each target. The accepted string is Dacron fishing line in either 50 or 80 lb test. Dacron is used since it doesn't stretch much and it is resistant to the weather. It is fairly expensive, so you might want to purchase some nylon cord at first. You will want to get some string holders to put the string on. The string should be cut in lengths just over 50 yards and wound onto the string holders. One nice string holder can be made of 1/2" plywood cut into an H shape. With two finishing nails in either end, the string is easy to wind and unwind by hand or with a cordless drill.
Each lane needs to be marked with a number. Just about anything can be used to mark the lane, just make sure that the lane number is clearly and easily visible. Many clubs use left and right markers to define the firing point. The number can be attached to these markers.
The score card can be generated by hand or on a computer. The score card might include:
- A line for the shooters name
- A line for the shooters classification
- A line for the starting lane
- A place to mark each shot (usually divided by lane and target)
- A line to total the score on each lane
- A line to record the total match score
You can include more or less as you like. Here is an example of a scorecard.
- Talk to the owners of local Shooting Ranges. They may allow you to hold FT matches.
- Talk to some land owners/ranchers in your area about the use of some land.
- Your City Council or City Manager may help you setup a Field Target range as it might bring in revenue.
- A good place to start is by checking out the Airgun Forums and posting a message that you are looking for others who want to shoot or start up a Field Target club.
- You can run an add in your local newspaper. They may even run it for free if your starting up a club.
- Plan ahead!
- Make sure your equipment is working perfectly (targets, etc.)
- Send out a registration form for the big matches.
- Put safety first. Appoint one or two persons as safety officers.
- Use a field target management software to outline your course & Troyer factor.
- Have a shooters meeting before the match begins.
- Appoint one or two persons as Lane Managers. They should know a bit about the workings of a Field Target as they will be the ones responsible for fixing problems with targets during a match.
- Make sure each shooter has his or her score card.
- No one is to begin shooting until a "Hot Line" is called. A "Cold Line" is called if the shooting needs to cease. All shooters must discharge into the ground in front of them and leave the breach or barrel open until "Hot Line" is called again.
- Check out the AAFTA Handbook for detailed rules regarding running a match and AAFTA regulations.
Some additional suggestions and resources on running a match are available here.