Sporting Air Rifle is intended to be more ’sporting’ and less reliant on the rigid clothing and gadgetry that goes with match shooting. Consequently the only equipment required is a rifle, sights and some people like to wear a shooting glove on their front hand.

Air rifles fall into 2 broad categories.

Spring Powered........................ use a spring to compress a piston. Typically the barrel is broken and acts as a lever to compress the spring. The trigger effectively acts a latch holding the spring compressed so when it is pulled, the spring expands depressing a piston which forces air into the barrel, pushing the pellet out.

Spring air rifles are most people’s first experience of shooting. The advantages are that they comparatively inexpensive and no other equipment is required to make them work apart from a good bit of arm power.

The main disadvantages are that as the spring uncoils, the recoil which it generates makes it difficult to hold the rifle steady enough for the precision required in modern target shooting. Also because the trigger is acting as a latch on the spring it can require a stronger pull to release it which again is not conducive to precision shooting. Having said this, it is quite possible to shoot very accurately with spring rifles and their use at Keighley is as welcome as any other kind of gun.

Pre-charged...........................where the rifle contains a cylinder containing either carbon dioxide or compressed air. When the rifle is cocked a controlled amount of gas is released into a chamber in the rifle and when the trigger is pulled this is released into the barrel, expelling the pellet. Compressed air pre-chargeds are normally filled from a divers bottle which can be purchased from most air rifle dealers. Costs vary but will be between £150 and £200 depending on  the size. Once purchased most divers suppliers will fill them up for £2 or £3 and a 7 litre bottle can last for 6 months or more shooting even when shooting 2 or 3 times a week. CO2 rifles provide a cheaper entry into the world of pre-charged, negating the need to buy a divers bottle. They use specialist CO2 bulbs which can be bought from rifle dealers but over time the cost of of these starts to mount up and generally they are not as common as pre-charged rifles that run on compressed air.


Sporting Air Rifle Equipment

.177 or .22

All air rifles that can be owned without a firearms certificate can have a maximum power of 12 ftlb’s or 16 joules whether they are .177 or .22 calibre.

Because a .117 pellet is significantly lighter it travels significantly faster and its trajectory is flatter than a .22 pellet so most target air rifles are .177 calibre whereas .22 rifles are more commonly used for hunting.


These type of rifles are more expensive that spring powered ones plus the cost of the air bottle adds more expense (though the same bottle can be used to fill any number of guns), but if you wish to progress with air rifle shooting then it is likely that you will go down the pre-charged road.

The biggest advantage of these rifles is that they can be virtually recoilless and can have triggers that very light both of which are huge factors in increasing your scores. Higher end models have adjustable stocks to enable you to adjust them for your own body dimensions and some models have multi shot adapters, though generally target shooting is done on single shot rifles.

Telescopic Sights

When it come to telescopic sights bigger is not necessarily better. For free standing shooting using magnifications of more than 16x can be more of a hinderance than a help because the amount of “wobble” becomes more off putting. Most commonly a magnification of 12 or 14x is used for sporting air rifle. More powerful scopes tend to be used for field target air rifle, bench resting and anysights rim-fire shooting.

The better quality scope you use, the sharper the image appears, and the more likely that both the target and the reticle will appear in focus.

For info about the kind of equipment required for rim-fire shooting checkout the links to rifle makers and equipment suppliers on the links page