Marksmanship goes a long way back in the history of Air Cadets and is one of our most popular activities. Think you can concentrate on distant targets and fire with consistent accuracy? It’s not easy. It requires focus, agility and a very steady hand.

We’ll teach you to handle a variety of weapons safely. Firing is always done lying on your stomach (the prone position) at static targets. Progress through the course and you’ll experience different types of weapons and could even take part in shooting competitions if you really prove your skills.

Ranges come in different shapes and sizes but all are in controlled conditions with full training on any weapon that you handle – safety is our top priority. To start with you’ll be firing at targets that are fairly close – around 25m away. As you advance through weapons and your skill builds, you will fire at targets 100m or more away.

Weapon types

First up is the No.8 bolt action rifle. This is the weapon you’ll begin with. It’s a great all rounder that started life as the Enfield No 4 rifle, used as far back as World War II. Modified to have a shorter barrel and fire the .22 long rifle round, it no longer takes a box magazine holding 10 rounds – you feed in each round manually. It makes little noise, although ear defenders are always worn on the range, and is a great first step for your marksmanship skills.

‘Dry training’ is the first thing you’ll do – exploring the No.8 in detail, and learning the commands and safety practices used on the range. After you’ve successfully passed the Weapon Handling Test (WHT) you’ll be ready to progress.

Over 14? Then you can handle the L98A2 Cadet GP rifle (L98) – modified from the Enfield L85A2 which is currently in active service. It is re-cocked by gas from the previous round fired. Rounds are contained in a magazine fitted to the rifle. You have to be re-trained on this new weapon – as it uses high velocity rounds they make a louder noise when fired and give a more robust kick in your shoulder!

The L81A2 Cadet Target Rifle is very much like the No.8 rifle in operation, but scaled up with higher calibre ammunition and advanced accuracy.

Whichever weapon you are trained on our instructors will ensure you feel safe and confident handling it.

Become a Marksman

Marksman Badges

Cadets who are top shots can go for marksmanship awards. Four levels of marksman awards are available from Squadron through to Corps – although they can be gained at any range. The higher the award the higher the skill levels.

For the best shots there is the annual cadet meet at Bisley, where the top 100 shots from all three cadet services are awarded the Cadet 100 badge.


Squadron Marksman Badge


Wing Marksman Badge

Region Marksman Badge

Corps Marksman Badge

Cadet 100 Badge