Within the Air Cadets you will get the chance to shoot targets using a variety of weapon systems including air rifle, 2.2 rimfire, the L98A2 and Target rifle. Those who stay in a number of years and actively take part in shooting may also progress to the Light Support Weapon (LSW). Shooting within the cadet forces is carried out under strict military protocols under the supervision of specially trained instructors. This is much stricter than on professional civilian ranges and having experienced both I have felt positively unsafe on the civilian ranges by comparison!
One of the most common weapons cadets fire is the L98A2. This is almost identical to the SA80 used by the British military with one important difference, it has been modified by removing the change lever so it can only be set to fire in Semi-Automatic mode. Otherwise it is the same rifle firing the same 5.56mm rounds as the standard British military rifle. Master that and you may get to go on to fire the LSW, this is a fully automatic light machine gun which is great fun to fire and accurate up to 1 kilometre!
Before you get to go on the range however you must be fully trained in our safety protocols and how to strip, clean, assemble and fire each individual weapon system. This isn’t a case of turning up and doing the training. Before being able to hit the range you will need to pass an a strict weapons handling test where you will be individually assessed on all of the relevant safety drills. One major safety fail, such as failing to check the safety catch at the appropriate time in any of the drills and its a fail! A valid weapons handling test pass only lasts for 6 months after which is must be retaken in order to continue shooting. This is to ensure cadets do not suffer from ‘skill fade’ or become complacent over time when handling weapons.