Shooting and Marksmanship

Page under construction


Whatever level you are as a cadet, you’ll have the opportunity to try your hand at live fire marksmanship training. Marksmanship goes a long way back in the history of Air Cadets and is one of our most popular activities. It’s not easy. It requires focus, concentration and a very steady hand.

For each weapon system, full training is delivered by qualified staff, and each firer is expected to pass a practical test in weapon safety every six months (the WHT or Weapon Handling Test). The training program follows a set syllabus to make each step up progressive and achievable for each cadet.

Weapon Systems

Fully qualified staff will teach you how to handle a variety of weapons safely:

  • Your training may begin on the air-rifle, firing at paper targets at short ranges of up to 15 m.
  • The first live fire weapon you may train on is the No8 Rifle. This is a .22 calibre rim-fire weapon designed for competition shooting at short ranges, normally at 25 m, but this can be fired at up to 100 m, from the prone position (lying down on the stomach).
  • When you have proven your ability on these two weapons, you may progress to train on the L98A2 Cadet GP Rifle. This is a 5.56mm semi-automatic weapon, used for target shooting at longer ranges of up to 300 m, and can be fired from a variety of firing positions depending on the experience of the firer.
  • The most advanced shooters can also train on the L86A2 Light Support Weapon, and the L81A2 cadet target rifle, each used extensively in national competitions.


After you’ve completed your initial weapon training and passed the WHT, the goal is to hit your target accurately and consistently. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Try it for yourself and you’ll understand why practice makes perfect. As a cadet shooter you’ll be typically firing in one of four types of practice:

  • Grouping – You select a single point on the target and fire a number of rounds at it. The aim is for all rounds to form the smallest group possible. This is excellent for concentrating and perfecting your technique. There’s no limit to how long you can take when firing.
  • Deliberate Fire – Firing at a target with marked scoring rings, your score is marked depending on how near to the centre of the target you manage to get. For this you use either a large, single target or a card with 5 or 10 separate targets marked on it. When firing at a card with multiple targets, you aim to place one or two rounds on each of them. Take as long as you need – the goal is accuracy.
  • Rapid Fire – Just like it sounds, speed, accuracy and safety are the things here. Get the round within the target area, but within a time limit. For instance, you may need to fire 10 rounds in 40 seconds with a No.8 rifle – not too easy when you have to reload manually after each shot.
  • Snap – Now it gets more challenging. For this you have to get all rounds to fall within a target area. But, the targets only appear for a short time before vanishing again. You must hit it before it disappears. By the end of the practice the target may have appeared – for perhaps 5 seconds – and disappeared up to 5 times. Just to make it even more difficult, it’ll sometimes appear at random time intervals – so you can’t anticipate it!


If you’re good, and we mean really good, then you could qualify to shoot with the best in the country at the Bisley and Pirbright competitions. There are several events for individuals and teams. The annual highlights are the Inter-Service Cadet Rifle Meeting (ISCRM) and Cadet Inter-Service Skill-at-Arms Meeting (CISSAM), target shooting competitions where you get to compete against members of the ACF (Army Cadet Force) and SCC (Sea Cadet Corps).

All Air Cadets have the opportunity to take part in competitive target shooting and there are a number of other Air Cadet local, national and international target shooting competitions held each year.

There are further competitive events available to you, including even a postal competition arranged by the RAF (Reserve Forces) Small Arms Association (RAF(RF)SAA). This enables those who are unable to travel to still compete with others throughout the country. Read more at