14-41 Annex C Appendix 1 - Air Rifle Ranges

Cadet Administrative and Training Orders (CATOs)


1. This appendix will govern the conduct and operation of all cadet air rifle ranges.  It does supersede A-CR-CCP-177/PT-001, Cadet Marksmanship Program – Reference Manual, with regard to range safety issues.

2. Air rifles fire a pellet by the release of a spring driven piston within a sealed air chamber or use a compressed air or other gas cylinder in lieu of a piston.  This instruction is intended for authorized air rifles of .177-inch calibre (4.5 mm).

3. Licensing and annual inspections of these ranges are not required.


4. Many people falsely assume that because air rifles are not as powerful as most firearms and are relatively quiet, that there is no danger in their use. Air rifles can cause serious injury and air rifle range design must take this into consideration.

5. Firing air rifles requires personnel to handle lead pellets. The danger of lead poisoning must be taught to all air rifle users. Hand washing facilities must be made available and strict hygiene observed.

6. Air rifles may only be fired on a properly prepared range.

Technical Requirements

7. The major design considerations in the establishment of a range site are:

  1. Containment.  One of the first considerations should be that fired pellets are contained within the range area;
  2. Controlled Access.  Doorways and passages into the range area forward of the firing line must be blocked; and
  3. Lighting.  Proper lighting is an important feature on air rifle ranges.  Overall light in the room where the range is sited should allow for clear visual acuity from firing position to target without glare or distracting shadow on the firing line or target.

Space Requirements

8. For determining space requirements A-CR-CCP-177/PT-001 remains the primary reference for calculating if a location has sufficient space for an air rifle range and how many firing lanes can be used.

9. All ranges should provide a clear area behind the firing points to allow unimpeded movement of Range staff, other firers, coaches, etc.

Target System

10. The elements of the target system are:

  1. target;
  2. target holder;
  3. pellet trap; and
  4. backstop.


11. The target should be capable of being mounted on the center line of the firing point and at eye-level, such that it can be engaged without imposing excessive angles of sight elevation or depression.

12. When possible target positions will be numbered.  The number must be large enough to be identified under ordinary conditions with normal vision.  Numbers must correspond to firing point positions.

13. Only approved cadet issued penetrable, light reactive or mechanical targets, such as the air rifle biathlon targets, are to be used.

Target Holder

14. When required, targets should be mounted on soft board, light cellular plastics or similar materials.  The use of corrugated materials should be avoided whenever possible.  The internal ribs of a corrugated board may cause minor deflection of the pellet as it passes through the board.  This deflection is not a safety hazard but it may affect the exactness of the pellet perforation.

Pellet Trap

15. The pellet trap is intended to catch any pellets that have passed through the target and safely contain them.

16. The ballistic curtain (NSN 8305-21-888-4975 trade named Herculite or an equivalent) currently attached to the issued target systems meets the minimum safety requirement for a pellet trap.


17. The backstop is intended to catch any pellets that may have missed the pellet trap.  This is of particular importance when inexperienced cadets are involved.  The standard cadet backstop is intended to meet the needs of all levels of marksmanship experience.

18. Suitable backstop material may include:

  1. plywood, when used as a component of the standard cadet air rifle target system.  This plywood extends at an approximate angle of 45 degrees downward from the target holder;
  2. metal, when used as part of a commercially made target pulley system.  This metal extends at an approximate angle of 45 degrees downward from the target holder;
  3. soft ballistic textiles that yield when struck, without suffering undo damage and are hung as curtains.  The textiles should not be stretched tightly, since this may create a trampoline effect and ricochet the pellets; and
  4. pre-existing range with backstop structure incorporated.

Range Types

19. The following five range types are described below:

  1. indoor existing;
  2. indoor temporary;
  3. no danger area;
  4. tent; and
  5. outdoor.

Indoor– Existing

20. It is prohibited to use in-service indoor firearms ranges.  In the instance of a range facility that has been decommissioned and decontaminated, air rifle firing is permitted.

Indoor – Temporary

21. Any room that provides sufficient space may be adapted to become a temporary air rifle range.  Minimum requirements are:

  1. room length - 15 metres;
  2. firing distance – 10 metres;
  3. lane width – 1.25 metres; and
  4. suitable distance behind firing point for range staff.

22. The range structure must ensure that pellets cannot leave the range.  The construction materials of normal buildings will contain an air rifle pellet. All down range doors shall be bolted from the inside, with a sign on the outside indicating range training in progress.  Openings such as windows or vents shall be covered. Suitable coverings include:

  1. 5mm plywood, dense particle board or similar, to the sides of the range; and
  2. 10mm plywood or dense particleboard where openings are in the direct line of fire.

23. Care must be taken to ensure that there are no obstructions such as columns, partitions or fixtures.  A clear field of view is essential at the firing point, and, from the floor to approximately 0.5 m above the line of sight at the target.  Sides must provide approximately 0.5 m clearance along each flank of the line of sight to the target.


24. Air rifle ranges may be set up in a tent.  The fabric must be sufficiently strong enough to prevent pellets from penetrating when fired against the textile at a distance of one meter perpendicular to the textile.  All window and side flaps must be down and secured.  The tent frame or poles must be protected to prevent bounce back of pellets by wrapping with suitable materials as per pellet backstops.

25. Within tents, lighting may be a concern.  The technical considerations raised in para 7.c. above must be considered under these circumstances.

No Danger Area

26. To fire air rifles on a 10 metre, no danger area range, a backstop with a butt and wing height of 1.75 meters is required.  The wing must extend at least three meters from the backstop towards the firing line.


27. Air rifles may fire on existing or temporary outdoor ranges.  If ‘no danger area’ conditions are not met, use a danger area template 250 meters in depth and extended in an arc of 15 degrees from the center line of each firing point.

28. To fire air rifles in the open, the land – including the no danger area - shall be owned/controlled by the DND.  If the land is not owned/controlled by DND then overshooting rights shall be negotiated on behalf of the Department.

29. It is essential:

  1. that land being used for outdoor ranges is fully controlled by the RSO;
  2. that physical barriers are erected along any routes leading into the danger area; and
  3. that persons, animals or vehicles cannot enter the danger area without being seen by the RSO.


30. The range must be cleaned after each use and the lead disposed of as contaminated/hazardous waste.  The pellet trap and backstop must be inspected regularly to ensure that deterioration has not occurred.

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