Air Rifle Training for the Field

Here are some of my favourite shooting games to build specific skills in the field, Charlie Portlock explains.

With spring fast approaching some airgunners will be looking forward to some time on the range and there’s no better way to hone your craft than having some fun in the process.

1. Range it!

This game is a great way to train yourself to judge distance. It helps if you're not shooting on a range with pre-existing markers.

You’ll need:

  • A range finder (or a pair of legs)
  • Some competition
  • A ball
  • 10 x tin cans


  • Take out a tin of pellets and place them on the bench.
  • Give three pellets to each player
  • Set up the cans at an agreed distance (20 yards works well for open sights, further for scopes)
  • Throw or kick the ball down range and then take turns to guess how far away it is. The closest guess wins a pellet (a range finder is useful here but you can also pace it out).
  • When you’ve been through five rounds of ranging the ball see who can knock over the most cans with the ammunition they have available.

2. The Mortar

This game reminds us of this through the challenge of lobbing pellets onto an incredibly distant target.

It works best when your scope has run out of holdover and you’re determining your POA (Point of Aim) partly through instinct and partly through guess work. It’s fun and challenging.

You’ll need:

  • A very long range (50yards or more) with a completely safe backstop beyond.
  • A large wok or piece of metal to aim at.
  • A good pair of binoculars
  • A large piece of cardboard or even a bed sheet to hang behind the target to mark the fall of the shot.


  • Construct your impressively large backstop/ shot marker.
  • Hang up your wok, car bonnet or other large target.
  • Aim high but be sue not to aim higher than the backstop
  • Once you’ve found the range you can experiment with ever smaller targets.

An extra challenge

Place a tin can in a washing up bowl on a slight incline and try to land as many pellets in it as possible.

A precise knowledge of your pellet's trajectory is an essential ingredient for accuracy.

3. Firecaps

You’ll need:

  • A Firecap target
  • Some ring caps
  • A drill and a stake or board to mount it on

I love these. When used in moderation they provide the ultimate dopamine hit for target practise, giving of a loud a satisfying bang when hit. They’re made in the UK and the cap rings are also recyclable.

This is not one try in your garden unless you’ve cleared it with your neighbours first. The targets are also great fun for younger shooters and are seriously addictive. I often plot a 30 yard crawl and then give my self one shot to simulate an actual stalk. One miss and it’s back to the drawing board. Builds an awareness of the skills needed for real life accuracy.


  • Mount your target to a post
  • Plot a stalk that will leave you slightly uncomfortable and out of breath

An extra challenge. Try it as a time trial. The pressure will boost your adrenaline levels which will better reflect your physical state when out hunting.

4. Exploding Mints

You’ll need:

  • A tube of extra strong mints (or polos)
  • A flat surface like a upturned tin or a brick

Seeing your target explode with a well placed shot is a satisfying experience but exploding targets can be messy and aren’t bio-degradable. Mints on the other hand are. They explode on impact with a satisfying shower of shards and the insects in your garden will thank you for the meal.

You can extend this challenge to an extreme level by super gluing a polo mint to a can and then trying to shoot through the centre. Impossible!


  • This one is pretty self explanatory.

An extra challenge

Use super glue to glue some polo mints to a paper target on a pellet catcher.

You ideal hunting range is the distance at which you rarely break the mint. Good luck!

Click here for more top tips from Charlie Portlock or read more airgun articles here.