Sports and Adventure Training

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Duke of Edinburgh's Award

You may of heard of the DofE (Duke of Edinburgh) Award, but don’t know what it is or whether it’s for you. Well, it’s for everyone who likes a challenge. Their mission is simple – ‘to inspire, guide and support young people in their self-development, and recognise their achievements’.

To put it another way, they help you succeed. With the same sense of adventure that drew you to the Air Cadets in the first place, the DofE takes you through a programme of activities that will leave you a more confident, motivated and capable person.

We’re proud to be the DofE Award’s largest participant.

Taking it to the next level

If you’re 14 or over, then you can begin – just ask the instructors in your squadron and they’ll help you get started. For more information now on everything DofE, follow any of the links on this page to visit their official website.

There are three levels which, when successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold DofE Award. And it’s never too late to get in on the action – depending on your age you may be able to jump straight in at Silver or Gold level!

There are four sections at Bronze and Silver level and five at Gold:

  • Volunteering – Get involved providing services to individuals or the community and make a difference to other people’s lives
  • Physical – Get active and improve your skills and fitness in sport, dance or other physical activities – it’s your choice
  • Skills – Find new interests and get new talents (or perfect existing ones), with increased practical and social skills
  • Expedition – Get outdoors and plan, train for and complete an adventurous journey in the UK or abroad – an unbeatable experience
  • Residential – Only at Gold level. Getting to the Gold level is a big deal and this last stage could see you going to another country, sharing tasks and activities with people you’ve never met. It’ll test your mettle, and set you up for what life throws at you in the future

Go for Gold!

It’s not a walk in the park. You’ll get your DofE Award through persistence and commitment – but as an Air Cadet you’ll already know all about that. Over time you’ll develop personally and welcome each new challenge. At the end of it all you’ll have the world’s leading achievement award for young people under your belt, recognised by employers and universities alike.

But there’s one person who’ll truly appreciate that achievement the most – you.

For more information visit

Fieldcraft and Military Skills

Fieldcraft is what we call the collection of skills that allow a cadet to survive and operate in the “field” environment. This includes training in the very basics, for example: what clothing and equipment to wear, how to cook a meal, and build a temporary shelter. You will quickly progress on to the skills of moving silently and covertly, providing sentries and night training.

Your training will be assessed using both short and longer term training exercises, operating as part of a team and often taking place on the military training estate land. As you progress, you may begin to take a leadership role to practise and develop those skills.

To progress your skills further, you may also decide to attend the more advanced courses, such as the Junior Leaders course. Here, there is further training progression to include the military skills syllabus and develop a cadet’s leadership as the commander of a small unit using the prescribed tactics.

Fieldcraft exercises vary widely and each places emphasis on different aspects of how to survive and conduct yourself in the field. A massive advantage of fieldcraft training is that you are forced to use your own initiative, sometimes affecting your teammates. If you have natural leadership qualities, they’ll definitely show themselves here.


Feeling competitive? As an air cadet you can take part in seven main sports at different levels – athletics, cross country, football, rugby, hockey, netball and swimming. Whatever you do it’ll help improve your physical fitness levels and your team skills. If you’re good enough at your favourite sport we’ll notice, and can help you take it to the next level.

There are frequent tournaments between squadrons, where the best players are selected to represent the wing. The same then happens for the region, with wings competing against each other and the best players making up the regional team. If you make it through each of those selections then you’re good. Really good. You’ll be at the top of your game and will have a shot at representing the entire cadet corps, nationally and even internationally.

Mixing work and play is at the heart of the Air Cadets. Getting stuck into sport is fun, and you’ll build friendships and learn how to use your strengths to best effect in a team. And it doesn’t stop at the sports we’ve mentioned.

Each squadron runs loads of different sport activities. These could include 5-a-side, table tennis, volleyball, racquet sports or many others. You’ll be playing for fun but we’ll encourage you to unleash your competitive side. Don’t worry if you don’t think sport is your strength. You don’t have to be the next Olympic star, just take the opportunities and enjoy yourself!

Athletics is by far the most popular sport that cadets participate in. It’s not surprising when it offers so many options, from sprinting to high jump to discus throwing. You’ll always feel like you want to achieve better results, and we help give you the motivation to push your abilities to the max.

Athletic events are normally held in the summer months and age groups for teams are normally:

  • Under 15 Boys
  • Under 17 Men
  • Junior Men
  • Under 15 Girls
  • Junior Women

The normal athletics events you can take part in are:

  • 100 metres
  • 200 metres
  • 400 metres
  • 800 metres
  • 1500 metres
  • 4×100 metres relay
  • High jump
  • Long jump
  • Javelin
  • Discus
  • Shot put

All our events are governed by the rules of the UK Athletics Association.

There is nothing quite like cross country running. Each run is different – even if you know the course the weather can quickly make things more challenging. You have to use real skill to navigate different terrains (that aren’t always ideal for running) to stay ahead of the pack.

This is normally the very last sport you’ll do in the year and cadets run at these levels:

  • Junior girls
  • Senior girls
  • Junior boys
  • Youth boys
  • Senior boys

The courses are normally between a mile-and-a-half to three miles long, and you can compete at all levels, right up to representing the Air Cadets at inter-cadet competitions…if you can stay the distance!

What can we say about the ‘beautiful game’? We know loads of you love football, and if you’ve played it then you’ll already know all about being a ‘team player’. Working together as a team, and knowing your individual strengths, is everything – just like being an air cadet.

Imagine representing the Air Cadets and competing against other cadet services or external teams, even internationally. It’s possible if you keep your eye on the ball.

We offer two forms of football:

  • 11-a-side
    Only played by male cadets, we use official FA rules. Competitions are run, mainly around the Autumn, at both junior and senior levels with the senior age group being able to play right up to Corps level.
  • 5-a-side
    Played by both male and female cadets, this is really popular. The boys’ competition, usually at the beginning of the year, is split into juniors and seniors, though this is normally only played up to region level.

The sport where trying is everything! If you can take the bumps, and have a competitive streak, then rugby is going to challenge and reward you. If you’ve played it before you’ll know it’s a tough sport…and a tough sport to beat.

If you achieve on the pitch you could take it all the way to represent the Corps. Some regions arrange friendly games at junior level to give you a taster of the bigger tournaments.

Games are normally played in late autumn to early winter, with the Corps’ games being in the early New Year. Some wings also play Rugby 7s, and all games are played under the rules of the Rugby Football Union.

Rugby helps build confidence, body strength and friendships, so get stuck in.

Calling all female cadets! Hockey may be the most fun you have doing sport in the Air Cadets. It’s fast, furious and a real passion for its players. Hockey is a major cadet sport and you’ll feel the same competitive spirit when you get out on the pitch. Some of the best friends you’ll make during your time in the cadets will be your team mates.

You’ll often play other squadrons in smaller tournaments (normally held late in the year) and this is where the stars of the sport are spotted and put into teams to represent the wing, region and even the Corps – the highest level, representing the Air Cadets at national cadet competitions.

Hockey in the Air Cadets is governed by the rules of the Hockey Association.

Within the Air Cadets it’s played in the early part of the year and is terrific exercise and a great way to make new friends – netball is a real passion for its players.

Competitions between squadrons are normally open to all age groups, but if you progress to wing level and beyond, it is split into junior and senior girls. If you’re really good you could progress all the way through to Corps level. Imagine standing on the court with your team, representing Air Cadets against other cadet organisations – it’s opportunities to shine like this that we can offer you.

Netball in the Air Cadets is played under the rules of the All England Netball Association.

You may know it’s great exercise, but did you know that swimming is the cadets’ most successful event? The ATC have won the last 29 annual tri-service meetings – beating both the Army and Navy! Swimming activities are divided into four age groups:

  • Junior Girls
  • Senior Girls
  • Junior Boys
  • Senior Boys

You’ll do most of your swimming in late autumn each year. It’s a great sport where you can compete at all levels. Being in the water is great fun and bound to draw out aquatic skills you never knew you had. Push yourself, try different styles and you may be surprised how good you can be.

Go with the style that’s right for you as a freestyle swimmer and learn new strokes and techniques. Here are some of the events you can take part in:

  • Freestyle
  • Back stroke
  • Breast stroke
  • Butterfly
  • Individual medley
  • Medley relay
  • Freestyle relay

What are you waiting for? Jump in!