The club

The club organizes air gun matches every third Saturday of the month. Match venues vary with weather conditions, holding summer matches at higher elevations around Flagstaff, winter matches near Phoenix, with spring and fall matches in between.

Matches are planned for Saturday mornings, and all are welcome. Site-in is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. and monthly matches are usually completed by noon.

Site in at a shoot near Flagstaff in June 2007

Shooters often shoot through the course again in the afternoon, or plink and talk about air guns and other passions for fun. Shooters who camp over-night during summer matches shoot again on Sunday morning, filling out a week end of fun.

Shooters compete with a variety of air guns ranging from high-end pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) to off the shelf spring-piston (SP) rifles. The types of competition vary and have included paper, field target, and hunter field target matches over the years. The club welcomes air guns of all makes and models and tries to accommodate all types of matches based on club member’s desires.

There is a modest entry fee for each shooter to help pay for target maintenance, insurance and other club expenses. First-timers shoot their first match free.

Lapel pins are one of the types of awards that the club uses to recognize shooter success. In addition, the match champion takes home a traveling trophy (provided by Daystate) until the next match. Ties are settled by shoot off's on one of the more difficult parts of the course.

Airgunners of Arizona has hosted the Arizona State Field Target Championships for over 15 years. This match has drawn shooters from several states.  State champions in the various classes for the year are named and awarded trophies or plaques. The club also holds a raffle at the state match to raise money to cover annual operating expenses.

The sport we compete in

Field Target (FT) and Hunter Field Target (HFT) competition are shooting sports in which participants use adult air guns to knock down falling, re-settable steel targets at ranges from 10 to 55 yards. Matches are friendly social gatherings as well as being competitive. Most shooters just come out to have fun, learn more about shooting, and improve their shooting ability.

The falling, re-settable metal targets represent small game that might be hunted with an air gun; such as squirrels, rats, frogs, fish, ground hogs, armadillos, and birds. On the face plate of each target is a hole representing the lethal hit zone of the animal. Hit zones vary in size from 3/8 to 1¾ inches. To knock the target down, a pellet must cleanly pass through the hit zone. A pellet that only partially passes through the hit zone (a split) will not knock down a target.

Most field target courses are set so that shooters shoot twice at each target. Usually there are 32 - 48 shots (16 - 24 targets) in a local match. The targets are placed at various, unmarked yardages. Shooters use experience and scopes to range the distances of the targets when shooting FT matches. Shooters can then compensate for the arch of the pellet (trajectory) by adjusting the elevation knob on their scopes. HFT shooters must compensate by holding over/under the hit zone. Targets are placed in lanes and there are usually between eight and twelve lanes. Each lane has two or three targets.

The shooters are also organized into squads of two to four shooters. Each squad is assigned a different starting lane, and from there continues to shoot the targets on each lane. Squad members take turns shooting and keeping score.

Most FT shooters shoot sitting on a "bum bag" with their knees supporting their rifles. HFT shooters can use any position except for the FT position. The air gun may only be supported by the shooter’s body in FT.

Though these are the basic rules established by the American Airgun Field Target Association (AAFTA), the club sometimes includes scoring variations and/or rule variations in competitions for fun during monthly shoots.

For more information on both FT and HFT visit the official AAFTA website.

The equipment we use

Any safe air gun that shoots with 20 foot-pounds of energy or less may be used to compete.

There are three common classes in the sport, based on the equipment being used:

In the Open class, participants can use any air gun, with any open or optical sight (scope). Most shooters use PCP guns in this class. Sights may be adjusted during the match to compensate for distance/elevation and windage.

The Spring-Piston class is for shooters using a SP power plant; with any open or optical sight (scope). Sights may be adjusted during the match.

Optics used in FT competition is usually 18 power or greater (excepting HFT) and have adjustable objectives that will focus down to 10 yards. The higher powers make it easier to determine the distance to the target, particularly in the 45-55 yard range. Scopes used on spring-piston guns should be rated to handle the reverse recoil of a magnum spring gun.

In HFT class, shooters may use any air gun, and any sight with a maximum of 12 power magnification (variable optics with greater than 12 power magnification can be used with the power adjusted down to 12X). In the HFT class, no elevation or windage adjustments may be made to the scope during the competition (shooters must hold over or under the hit zone instead of adjusting the sight).
Some of the common airguns seen at matches include the Daystate CR-X, Mk3, and Huntsman; the Air Arms TX 200 and EV2; the USFT by Mac1 Airguns; Steyr's LG100; and the HW77 and HW97. This list is by no means comprehensive; there are many, many different airguns that can be competitive in the proper hands.

Pellet choice is as important as gun choice. Different pellets perform differently in different guns so it is important to experiment with different pellets and pellet weights. Light pellets are often used in SP guns, while heavy pellets are often used in PCP guns.

Another important piece of equipment is the bum bag. The bum bag (sitting bag), helps a shooter get into a more comfortable and stable position, as well as to get a better vantage over the grass, and any other obstacles, but are limited in thickness. Shooting jackets or harnesses, as allowed by AAFTA, may also be used. The use of slings is also permitted.