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This page should assist in the theory behind the Sharpshooter Interest Badge (previously Marksman).

Sharpshooter badge

The Sharpshooter Interest Badge (previously Marksman) can be done using a small bore rifle (.22) or an air rifle (4.5mm). Before attempting to shoot at a target, you need to understand the safety requirements of guns and rifles. Please treat the below theory as the bare minimum and feel free to do additional research.

In the requirements, you must know about guns and wildlife conservation. This is not included here, but IS required to pass the badge and will appear in the written test. Think of both cases where guns are hurting and helping wildlife conservation.

Parts of a handgun

(Some parts apply to rifles)

  • Barrel: A tube of varying length through which the bullet is discharged.
  • Bore: The interior diameter of the handgun's barrel.
  • Breech: The area of the handgun that contains the mechanical action, the chamber and the attachment of the barrel to the frame.
  • Chamber: The portion of the handgun that holds the cartridge during discharge. The chamber is located directly behind the rifled portion of the barrel.
  • Cylinder: The rotating drum, found on revolvers, which contains multiple chambers. Most commonly, a cylinder will contain six chambers, but some are made with as many as ten.
  • Firing Pin: A pin that transfers the energy generated by the hammer to the primer. The firing pin lies behind the cartridge. The impact of the firing pin on the cartridge ignites the primer and causes the powder to burn rapidly, thus discharging the bullet.
  • Grip: The point at which the user holds the handgun during use.
  • Hammer: The mechanism that generates the energy needed to ignite the primer and fire the bullet. When the hammer is pulled back into the cocked position, it compresses the mainspring, thus generating potential energy. When the trigger is pulled, the potential energy stored in the mainspring is released, forcing the hammer down onto the firing pin.
  • Mainspring: The initial source of the energy needed to fire the gun. Cocking the hammer compresses the mainspring, generating potential energy.
  • Magazine: A container that holds cartridges and feeds them automatically into the chamber of semi-automatic pistols.
  • Muzzle: The end of the barrel from which the bullet exits.
  • Silencer: A device that can be attached to the handgun to reduce the sound of discharge.
  • Slide: A device that surrounds the barrel on semi-automatic handguns. As its name implies, the slide moves backwards, opening the breech area of the handgun.
  • Trigger Guard: A loop of metal that extends down from the frame and encircles the trigger. It is designed to prevent the trigger from snagging as the handgun is removed from or placed into a holster.

Parts of a rifle

The parts of a rifle differ from those of a handgun.

  • Butt plate: Placed against the shoulder when firing so the shoulder can absorb recoil.
  • Heel: Back part of stock, where stock joins Butt Plate.
  • Stock: Helps keep the rifle steady when firing.
  • Action: The basic machinery of the rifle. The action includes parts that feed a cartridge into the firing chamber, fire the bullet, and eject the empty cartridge.
  • Bolt: Only found on bolt-action rifles. The bolt is pulled back to remove the used cartridge. Then the bolt is pushed forward, it pushed a new cartridge into the firing chamber.
  • Trigger and Trigger guard: Same as with handgun
  • Scope: A telescopic sight which makes the target look closer.
  • Rear and Front Sight: Used to aim the rifle. When aimed properly, the rear sight, the front sight, and the target should be in alignment.
  • Sling: Used to carry rifle on shoulders so that the weight of the rifle lies on the shoulders instead of the forearm. This allows for more accurate shooting.
  • Barrel: A tube of varying length through which the bullet is discharged.
  • Bore: The interior diameter of the rifle's barrel.
  • Chamber: The portion of the handgun that holds the cartridge during discharge. The chamber is located directly behind the rifled portion of the barrel.
  • Muzzle: The end of the barrel from which the bullet exits.
  • Firing Pin, Hammer: Same as with handgun


Most pistols, revolvers, rifles, and some shotgun barrels have what are called rifling in their barrels. Rifling consists of parallel grooves cut or formed in a spiral nature, lengthwise down the barrel of a firearm. As a bullet is fired from a rifle, grooves in the interior of the barrel cause it to spin. The spinning motion stabilises the bullet and increases its distance and accuracy. Because bullets are oblong objects, they must spin in their flight, like a thrown football, to be accurate.

The Projectile

  • Ammunition: A plural term referring to multiple fully assembled cartridges which are ready to be fired.
  • Blank: A cartridge that does not contain a bullet. However, it does contain powder and a primer.
  • Bullet: The projectile discharged from the cartridge of a handgun. Traditionally, these are made of lead. It is contained in the cartridge before being fired.
  • Calibre: The size of the bullet used in a particular handgun.
  • Cartridge: A single fully assembled round of ammunition (a casing containing a primer, the gunpowder, and a bullet).
  • Gunpowder (or powder): A mixture of chemical compounds burns rapidly to generate a gas when ignited by the primer.
  • Primer: The ignition component of the cartridge. Impact of the firing pin onto the primer causes it to explode, igniting the gunpowder.

Airguns vs. rifles

Most of the parts of air rifles are similar to those of "real" rifles except the following:

  • Airguns use compressed air to fire projectile, instead of gunpowder which causes burning gas to send projectile forward.
    • Therefore the hammer and firing pin are not found in air rifles.
  • Airguns use pellets, not bullets.
    • You should not refer to pellets as bullets.
    • Bullets are stored in a cartridge before firing, whereas pellets have no casing.
    • Bullets use gunpowder, pellets use air or gas.

Rifle shooting positions


Lie on your stomach, strong-side leg bent forward to widen your base of support. Gun should rest in the weak-side hand. Both elbows should be planted firmly, and you should be angled slightly towards your dominant side.


Sit cross-legged, with your ankle bones directly under the knee joint. Place elbows directly into the cleft between the bones of the knee.


On your knees with straight back as comfortable.


Face 90 degrees away from the target, legs shoulder-width apart. Place the butt of the gun to your shoulder first, to ensure consistent positioning, then place the forearm of the stock on top of your hand. Keep your legs and upper body rigid, but not tense, or you'll shake.

Different types of air rifle


  • Always consider any gun as if it were loaded, even when you know there is no pellet or bullet inside. Many people have died from "unarmed" weapons that were not actually unarmed. Never trust someone who says it is disarmed – check for yourself.
  • Never point any weapon at another person at any time, even if unloaded.
  • Before shooting, make sure you are in a clear and safe area. Look around to ensure there are no pathways or houses in the direction of your shot. Put red flags up around the shooting area, in front and behind.
  • Never walk towards the target until all weapons are disarmed. When going towards the target, make sure the airgun is cocked so that is cannot fire. Make sure the safety is on and no pellet is in the chamber.
  • When walking with the gun, let it point to the ground.
  • When packing the gun up, make sure it is completely disarmed.
  • Spectators must always be far behind the shooter!

Legal requirements

  • People have to apply for a licence to own and hold a firearm.
    • The licence ensures that gun owners are tested for shooting and safety competence.
    • It is illegal to have a firearm without a licence.
    • You need to be 21 years old, mentally stable and fit, and pass a proficiency test
  • Air rifles with a calibre less than 5.6mm (.22 calibre) no longer need a licence
    • Larger or more powerful air rifles may need a licence
    • We use 4.5mm (.177) and therefore do not need a licence
  • The number and type of weapon that civilians are allowed to own is limited.
    • It is usually limited to those necessary for self-defence, and sporting guns.
    • Certain particularly dangerous firearms are prohibited, such as
      • Semi-automatic guns are legal. Fully automatic guns are prohibited.
      • all kinds of explosive or noxious munitions,
      • and disguised firearms (firearms made to look lie something else).
  • Civilians carrying firearms in public must have them in a holster (or similar) or rucksack, and the gun must be fully covered.
  • All guns and ammunition have to by law be locked up in a suitable safe in any place they are stored. This prevents guns being stolen if there is a house robbery.
  • Dealing in firearms is only permitted by a licensed dealer, who must have a substantial business in firearms and a safe place to keep the stock.

Gun ownership debate

There is much debate all over the world as to whether civilians should be allowed firearms for self-protection. In some countries, police don't even carry guns. The argument goes like this: most guns that are "on the streets" were stolen from people with the correct licences, especially during house-breakings. These guns end up killing many innocent people (including children) and are used by people involved with gangs. They are used to hijack, rape and murder people. If civilians were not allowed firearms, then they would not be available to be stolen. The counter-argument states that criminals will obtain guns through other means (importing them illegally), and civilians have a human right to protect themselves by owning a gun.


Should any Scouter require a standard question paper in order to run a Sharpshooter Badge course, you are welcome to contact Ryan Hultzer to obtain the an example test and memo.

See also