This is shot with purpose built 0.22” rimfire calibre Match rifles; these are larger than 0.22” sporting rifles or air-rifles, and are more accurate. Traditional models have a wooden stock, but newer models have an aluminium skeleton stock. Most rifles are bolt-actions (Anschütz, Feinwerkbau, and Walther are leading brands), but some are Martini lever-actions (notably BSA); both types are single shot – loaded one bullet at a time. All are aimed with aperture sights, small peepholes mounted at either end of the barrel. The rearsight can be adjusted to centre one’s shots on the target.
Shooters fire from the prone position; this means lying on their front, propped up on the elbows, and resting the rifle on their hands. To help support the body and to steady the rifle when aiming, a padded jacket (of stiff canvas or leather) is worn, along with a shooting sling (a plastic or leather belt joining left arm and rifle). A padded glove cushions the left hand. The prone position is naturally very stable, and so aiming can be very accurate.
At Fonthill, smallbore prone is shot indoors from a distance of 25 yds. Each paper target has ten aiming spots which are divided into concentric scoring rings, the smallest of which (the bullseye) counts as 10 points.
One shot is fired at each spot for a maximum score of 100 points. Bullet holes and scoring rings are not visible to the naked eye, so shooters have a telescope to see their shots. Smallbore prone is also shot at 50 metres and 100 yards on outdoor ranges. Here larger targets with larger scoring rings are used. When shooting outdoors one must compensate for the effects of crosswinds on their shots for an extra challenge !
Q: Do I need to have perfect eyesight to shoot, and see the targets?
A: No, many shooters wear glasses or contact lenses. So long as your vision is OK with glasses/contacts this will be fine. Telescopes are used to “spot” shots.
Q: I have heard that rifles kick when fired; will this hurt?
A: No, 0.22” calibre ammunition is very low powered. Unlike a shotgun or large-calibre rifle, the recoil is very gentle and little more than a slight wobble.
Q: Do I have to be physically strong to hold the rifle still?
A: No, the rifle is supported by a combination of bones, shooting jacket, and shooting sling, not muscles. Fonthill’s best prone shooter is a skinny 8st woman. Any healthy adult will be strong enough, as will most teenagers (14+).
Q: I haven’t fired a rifle before, can I still join?
A: Yes, many of our members had no prior experience. Fonthill has qualified instructors who can teach beginners, even absolute novices. Everyone has to start somewhere!
Q: I don’t have any of the equipment mentioned; is this a problem?
A: No, we don’t expect beginners to have their own kit, so Fonthill has a selection of rifles and jackets to fit all sizes, plus slings, gloves, and telescopes for beginners to borrow free of charge.
Q: Do I need a license to shoot?
A: Yes, but only if you want to buy your own rifle; a Police-issued Firearms Certificate (FAC) would be required then. You would not need an FAC to use club rifles.
Q: Is shooting expensive?
A: No, not really. Fonthill offers beginners three trial sessions for £10 (ammo included). Normal membership is £120 p.a. Ammunition is extra, but a box of 50 cartridges costs from £3.10. Beginners can use club equipment until they want to buy their own; much of which can be bought second-hand.