Here at 135 all Cadets have the opportunity to participate in the sport of rifle shooting. The disciplines required in effective target shooting are useful in many other areas of both cadet and civilian life.
Shooting continues to be one of the most popular cadet activities on the squadron programme. 135 is fortunate enough to have ready access to a ‘Range’ (A "range" is a location designed so that people can target shoot under safe, controlled and supervised conditions. Shooting will take place with the target 25m from the firer, either on a 25m indoor range or a 25m barrack (outdoor) range)
Safety is paramount with all ATC activities and shooting is certainly no exception. Training is an integral part of the system and each cadet is fully trained and tested in any rifle before they can shoot. Adult supervising staff are also trained to deal with any eventualities and to ensure that the range is run safely and efficiently. All ATC Shooting is done from rifles are fired from the prone position the firer is lying on their stomach) at static, targets.
Although initially each shooter will concentrate at becoming familiar with the weapon, the eventual goal is to hit the target accurately and consistently.
Shooting within the air cadets starts at a basic level with the Squadron marksman shoot which, if achieved, will result in the award of the badge shown top left of picture. This requires the cadets to consistently achieve a good standard of grouping.
Next the cadets work towards the Wing Marksman qualification and badge (top right picture). This requires a higher standard of grouping and is viewed as a progression in skill from the Squadron marksman.
For the more experienced cadets there is the Region and Corps marksman (bottom left & right picture respectively). These practices require the cadets to show significant skills in the other marksmanship disciplines of: Deliberate Fire, Rapid Fire and Snap Shooting whilst consistently scoring to a high standard across them all.
The first rifle that cadets are trained in the use of is the No.8 bolt action rifle. This weapon started life as the Enfield No4 rifle as used during World War II.
It was modified to have a shorter barrel and altered to fire the .22 long rifle round instead of the .303. - each round must be fed in manually.
"Weapons Handling Training” is part of a cadet's initial training during which they are shown the No8 rifle in detail. The commands and practices used on the range are also explained and practiced so that the cadets know exactly what to expect before they are allowed near the range. Only after the cadet has successfully passed the Weapon Handling Test (WHT) will they be taken to the range and allowed to fire ammunition.
The No8 rifle itself is ideal for basic marksmanship training. The sights are easy to use and it operates with a manually fed bolt action. There is very little noise from the rifle, though ear defenders are always worn when it is being fired.
Cadets over 14 years old may train on and fire the L98 Cadet GP rifle. The L98 is again a modification of an existing design, but in this case it is modified from the standard British Armed Forces current issue rifle (the Enfield L85A1). The cadet variant fires the same ammunition (5.56mm calibre) as the L85 but it is manually cocked and can only be loaded one round at a time so it is just like the No.8. The primary difference in operation is that ammunition is supplied from a magazine, which is fitted to the rifle.
Since the weapon is different from the No. 8, firers must be retrained with this weapon and go through weapons handling training and WHT again before they are allowed to fire. Because rounds of a slightly higher calibre are being fired and that they are high velocity rounds (they travel faster than the speed of sound) they make a louder noise and can give a more robust recoil (kick) in your shoulder.
Recently returned to cadet service is the L81 rifle. The L81A1 was a slightly modified Parker-Hale M82 rifle but wastaken out of service in 1995 for maintenance. It has just recently been reborn as the L81A2 rifle.
A step back in complexity, this weapon is very much like the No.8 rifle in operation, though scaled up. It fires the 7.62mm round and is capable of considerable accuracy at longer distances.