Rifle Shooting Merit Badge Helps and Documents

A young man wearing eye and ear protection, preparing to shoot a rifle, and an image of the Rifle Shooting merit badge emblem.

Scouts learn to safely shoot firearms while working on the Rifle Shooting merit badge. Then they demonstrate their skill. The requirements for this badge may be completed using modern rifles, BB or pellet air rifles, or muzzleloaders.

Note that there is also a Shotgun Shooting merit badge.

Rifle Shooting merit badge is an elective merit badge.

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Help with Answers for the Rifle Shooting Merit Badge Requirements

Find specific helps for some of the Rifle Shooting merit badge requirements listed below. Some of these resources will just give the answers. Others will provide engaging ways for older Scouts to introduce these concepts to new Scouts.

Ask Scouter Mom a question or share your ideas with others

Rifle Shooting Merit Badge Requirement 1: Safety, Laws, and Responsible Use

  • Explain why BB and pellet air guns must always be treated with the same respect as firearms.
  • Describe how you would react if a friend visiting your home asked to see your or your family’s firearm(s).
  • Explain the need for, and use and types of, eye and hearing protection. Demonstrate their proper use.
  • Give the main points of the laws for owning and using guns in your community and state.
  • Explain how hunting is related to the wise use of renewable wildlife resources.
  • Successfully complete a state hunter education course or obtain a copy of the hunting laws for your state, then do the following:
    • Explain the main points of hunting laws in your state and give any special laws on the use of guns and ammunition.
    • List the kinds of wildlife that can be legally hunted in your state.
  • Identify and explain how you can join or be a part of shooting sports activities.
  • Explain to your counselor the proper hygienic guidelines used in shooting.
  • Give your counselor a list of sources that you could contact for information on firearms and their uses.

BSA Standards

Scouts BSA are permitted to fire .22 caliber bolt-action, single-shot rifles; air rifles; shotguns; and muzzleloading long guns under the direction of a currently certified instructor, 21 years of age or older, within the standards outlined in current Scouting literature and bulletins. BSA policy does not permit the use of handguns in the Scouts BSA program. For details see Shooting FAQs.

The Scout Marksman’s Code

A Scout:

  • Always follows the rules for firearms safety.
  • Accepts the responsibility that goes with the use and possession of firearms.
  • Follows the laws that govern the use and possession of firearms in his community.
  • Practices wildlife conservation.
  • Follows the spirit and the letter of the game laws.
  • Is especially careful to be a true sportsman when using firearms

Safe Gun Handling

  • Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction
  • Keep your finger off of the trigger until you are ready to shoot
  • Keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it

Safe Shooting

  • Know your target and what is beyond it
  • Understand how your gun operates
  • Ensure that the gun is safe to operate
  • Use the correct ammunition
  • Wear hearing and eye protection
  • Never shoot while under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Safe Storage

  • Store guns in a manner that they cannot be accessed by unauthorized or untrained people, especially children
  • Store guns unloaded
  • Guns should be locked in some way
  • Store ammunition in a separate location

Range Commands

These can vary depending on your location, but here are some common commands

  • Make ready
  • Shooter ready? (or Line ready?)
  • Standby
  • Commence firing
  • Cease fire

Misfire

The misfire happens when a cartridge does not fire when the firing pin hits the primer. When this happens, the shooter must keep the gun pointed in a safe direction and wait for at least 30 seconds before opening the bolt. The misfire normally happens because the strike by the firing pin was too weak to fire the priming compound or because there was no priming compound where the firing pin hit the cartridge’s primer.

Hangfire

In rare cases, the priming compound will not ignite immediately but may ignite after a delay. Late ignition of the round is called a hangfire. The possibility of a hangfire is why the rifle is kept pointed in a safe direction for at least 30 seconds. At the end of that time, the bolt may be opened to remove the misfired cartridge or empty case

Squib Round

In a squib round, the primer ignites, but there are not enough gases to force the bullet out of the barrel.

In Case of Malfunction

  • Raise your hand and explain the situation to the Range Safety Officer
  • Do not attempt to shoot another round
  • Remove the bolt and inspect the barrel from the breech end
  • If the bullet is in the barrel, remove it by pushing a cleaning rod from the breech
  • Clean the barrel

Rifle Shooting Merit Badge Requirement 2A: Rifle Shooting (Modern cartridge type)

Either option 2A OR option 2B or option 2C must be completed. Option 2A (below) focuses on modern rifles.

  • Identify the three main parts of a rifle, and tell how they function.
  • Identify and demonstrate the three fundamental rules for safe gun handling.
  • Identify the two types of cartridges, their parts, and how they function.
  • Explain to your counselor what a misfire, hangfire, and squib fire are, and explain the procedures to follow in response to each.
  • Identify and demonstrate the five fundamentals of shooting a rifle safely.
  • Explain to your counselor the fundamental rules for safe gun handling.
  • Explain each rule for using and storing a gun. Identify and explain each rule for safe shooting.
  • Explain the range commands and range procedures.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to safely shoot a rifle from the benchrest position or supported prone position while using the five fundamentals of rifle shooting.
  • Identify the basic safety rules for cleaning a rifle, and identify the materials needed.
  • Demonstrate how to clean a rifle properly and safely.
  • Discuss what points you would consider in selecting a rifle.
  • Using a .22 caliber rimfire rifle and shooting from a benchrest or supported prone position at 50 feet, fire five groups (three shots per group) that can be covered by a quarter. Using these targets, explain how to adjust sights to zero a rifle.
  • Adjust sights to center the group on the target and fire five groups (five shots per group). According to the target used, each shot in the group must meet the following minimum score: (1) A-32 targets—9; (2) A-17 or TQ-1 targets—7; (3) A-36 targets—5.s.

Requirement 2A Helps and Answers

Basic Parts of a Firearm

How to Clean a Rifle

Basic Parts of a Firearm

  • Action
  • Stock
  • Barrel

Learn more.

The video below also goes into more detail.

Rifle Shooting Merit Badge Requirement 2B: Air Rifle Shooting (BB or pellet)

Either option 2A OR option 2B or option 2C must be completed. Option 2B (below) focuses on air rifles.

  • Identify the three main parts of an air rifle, and tell how they function.
  • Identify and demonstrate the three fundamental rules for safe gun handling.
  • Explain the range commands and range procedures.
  • Identify the two most common types of air rifle ammunition.
  • Identify and demonstrate the five fundamentals of shooting a rifle safely.
  • Identify and explain each rule for shooting an air rifle safely.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to safely shoot a target from the benchrest position or supported prone position while using the five fundamentals of rifle shooting.
  • Identify the basic safety rules for cleaning an air rifle, and identify the materials needed.
  • Demonstrate how to clean an air rifle safely.
  • Discuss what points you would consider in selecting an air rifle.
  • Using a BB gun or pellet air rifle and shooting from a benchrest or supported prone position at 15 feet for BB guns or 33 feet for air rifles, fire five groups (three shots per group) that can be covered by a quarter.
  • Adjust sights to center the group on the target and fire five groups (five shots per group). According to the target used, each shot in the group must meet the following minimum score: (1) BB rifle at 15 feet or 5 meters using TQ-5 targets—8; (2) pellet air rifle at 25 feet using TQ-5 targets—8, at 33 feet or 10 meters using AR-1 targets—6.

Requirement 2B Helps and Answers

Basic Parts of a Firearm

How to Clean an Air Rifle

Basic Parts of a Firearm

  • Action
  • Stock
  • Barrel

Learn more.

The video below also goes into more detail about air rifles.

Rifle Shooting Merit Badge Requirement 2C: Muzzleloading Rifle Shooting

Either option 2A OR option 2B or option 2C must be completed. Option 2C (below) focuses on muzzleloading rifles.

  • Give a brief history of the development of muzzleloading rifles.
  • Identify principal parts of percussion rifles and discuss how they function.
  • Demonstrate and discuss the safe handling of muzzleloading rifles.
  • Identify the various grades of black powder and black powder substitutes and explain their proper use.
  • Discuss proper safety procedures pertaining to black powder use and storage.
  • Discuss proper components of a load.
  • Identify proper procedures and accessories used for loading a muzzleloading rifle.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to safely shoot a muzzleloading rifle on a range, including range procedures. Explain what a misfire, hangfire, and squib fire are, and explain the procedures to follow in response to each.
  • Shoot a target with a muzzleloading rifle using the five fundamentals of firing a shot.206
  • Identify the materials needed to clean a muzzleloading rifle safely. Using these materials, demonstrate how to clean a muzzleloading rifle safely.
  • Identify the causes of a muzzleloading rifle’s failure to fire and explain or demonstrate proper correction procedures.
  • Discuss what points you would consider in selecting a muzzleloading rifle.
  • Using a muzzleloading rifle of .45 or .50 caliber and shooting from a benchrest or supported prone position, fire three groups (three shots per group) at 50 feet that can be covered by the base of a standard-size soft drink can.
  • Center the group on the target and fire three groups (five shots per group). According to the target used, each shot in the group must meet the following minimum score: (1) at 25 yards using NRA A-23 or NMLRA 50-yard targets—7; (2) at 50 yards using NRA A-25 or NMLRA 100-yard targets –7.

Requirement 2C Helps and Answers

Basic Parts of a Firearm

How to Clean a Muzzleloader

Basic Parts of a Firearm

  • Action
  • Stock
  • Barrel

Learn more.

The video below also goes into more detail about inline muzzleloaders.

Other Resources for the Rifle Shooting Merit Badge

Shooting Troop Program Feature for Scouts BSA

One of the resources which BSA provides for Scouts BSA Troops is a set of troop program feature guides. Shooting is always a popular activity with the Scouts and they will enjoy it more if they are well prepared. You can even plan an outing to for Scouts to earn the Rifle Shooting merit badge.

Merit Badges Related to Rifle Shooting Merit Badge

Shotgun Shooting

Archery

Environmental Science

Fish and Wildlife Management

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