Equipment for Target shooting
Rifle: a rifle is the most important and expensive piece of equipment you will need. How seriously you are going to take your target shooting will govern how much you are willing to spend and what type of target shooting you want to do. If you want to consistently shoot in the V bull at 1000 yards you are going to need a top quality target rifle; if on the other hand you will be shooting at club level at shorter distances with occasional shoots at longer distances you may want to settle for a good quality varmint rifle or second hand target rifle.
Sights: how is the eyesight? Like a hawk or more like a bat? Are you going to buy a set of open/iron sights for your rifle and shoot in target rifle competitions or are you going to go for a telescopic sight and shoot in F class competitions? What ever you choose buy the best that you can afford; this is especially true with telescopic sights but unfortunately scopes that cost £1000 cost that much for a reason.
Shooting mat: a must have if you are taking the sport even a little seriously. It keeps you off the ground and away from the damp and should have enough padding so you can lie on it comfortably. Look for one that has a rubber mat where your elbows go - this will stop them slipping. The pad or pads need to be large enough for both elbows to be on it when in the prone position.
Sling: this should be very high on your list of things to buy. An absolute must for target shooting and useful for most other disciplines. They are all much of a muchness with personal preference being the deciding factor. Get one that has plenty of adjustment. You will also need to buy a hook or other device to attach it to the rifle. Do not be tempted to attach it directly to the rifle as you need to fit the sling to you and then attach the rifle during the detail and then you need to detach the rifle at the end. Slings can be handed so make sure that you get the correct one for you.
Shooting Glove: the shooting glove serves several purposes; it protects the back of your hand from the sling, it stops you gripping the rifle too tightly, it provides a non-slip surface for the rifle to sit on and it helps support the wrist. For what they cost they are well worth the money. You buy them singly. A right handed shooter would buy a glove for the left hand.
Hand stop: this is a device that fits under the rifle just in front of the left hand and is used to ensure that the hand is always positioned in the same position each time. Only target rifles have a rail that these can be fitted to.
Eye Shield: Shooting with both eyes open gives a sharper image to the brain but unfortunately it also provides unwanted distraction. To get the best of both worlds a piece of frosted plastic is either attached to the rear sight of the rifle or the glasses of the shooter. During use this covers the left eye, allowing it to remain open without disrupting the sight picture.
Shooting hat: a must have accessory. They have a large peak to keep the sun out of your eyes and they also have side flaps that can be lowered to stop the sun getting in your eyes if it is not directly ahead of you.
Elbow pads: a must have accessory if you do not have a shooting jacket. They are relatively cheap and help you to be comfortable on uneven surfaces.
Shooting Jacket: although a shooting jacket is expensive you will not be able to compete seriously without one. If you are not interested in taking it too seriously then this should be at the bottom of your list to buy. The shooting jacket is very stiff and when worn properly holds and gives support to the shoulders and back. A good test to see if yours is the right size is to try and touch your elbows together. You should not be able to get them any closer together than the width of your shoulders, which is basically the position you would want them to be in when you are laid down.
Spotting scope and stand: the spotting scope is another extremely useful bit of kit. It allows you to see the spotting disk and target rings clearly. Quality counts - the more you pay the better quality the image will be. With some of the cheaper scopes the image quality degrades so much that at high magnification the rings and spotting disk are fuzzy and distorted. At shorter distances a good spotting scope will allow you to see the bullet holes in the target without a spotting disk. The stand is also important - most scopes zoom to 60 times magnification (whether this amount of magnification is necessary is a point for discussion) but the slightest vibration or movement can cause the image to be blurred therefore the stand needs to be sturdy and stable to a point where it looks well over engineered.