Getting Started in Small-bore Target Rifle Shooting
It is probably true that most people come to start target rifle shooting by joining a local small-bore rifle club or through school, army cadet organisations or the Scouts. Certainly with over 600 target shooting clubs in the country and about 10,000 people participating, there are many opportunities for taking up the sport.
Shooting is a regulated sport subject to legal controls contained in the various Firearms Acts; but do not be put off by these regulations: they are primarily there to restrict the ownership of firearms and prevent their use for criminal purposes. Shooting is a very safe sport because of the stringent rules followed by all shooters.
Small-bore target rifle shooting is a very good introduction to the various different disciplines that are on offer because the experience gained is transferable to air, full-bore and gallery rifle shooting. Small-bore shooting takes place at ranges from 15-25 yards (generally indoors) and 50 yards or meters and 100 yards (on outdoor ranges). Many clubs can provide all the equipment required for taking up shooting and also coaching for beginners; so you can try out the sport before committing to your own equipment.
The national governing body of the sport is the National Small-bore Rifle Association (NSRA) and their website includes a club finder covering the whole country. Our own website lists the clubs affiliated to the Nottinghamshire Rifle Association. There are other county and regional associations with similar facilities. The NSRA runs national competitions and many county associations run local leagues. Our website gives details of the Nottinghamshire leagues.
When you have selected a local club and made contact with their secretary, they will probably invite you to visit them on a club shooting session to see what is involved and meet other members. You should check that the club is Home Office Approved (most are) as they can give you the best opportunities for training. They will give you an application form for probationary membership and request your permission to check with the Police that they do not have any objections to your being a member. They will also ask for a reference. Once these checks have been successfully completed, the club will invite you to join as a probationary member. This you must do before you can start shooting using club equipment.
In due course you will undoubtedly wish to have your own equipment to avoid the hassle of sharing club kit. Unlike the rest of the shooting kit, the rifle cannot be purchased without an official firearms certificate (FAC) and this involves a formal application to the Police for its issue. The FAC will also allow you to purchase ammunition for your own use and will stipulate various conditions on the storage and use of your rifle and ammunition. Members of your club will be able to advise you on the application process as also will the local Police Firearms Dept. You will need to have been a member of your club for a minimum of three months and usually six months and have been accepted as a full member before applying for your FAC.