In the last decade, hunter field target (HFT) shooting has come a long way. For a sport that started out as practice for airgun hunting it is now holding World Championship events that attract over 350 shooters! For those just getting into the sport you really are picking the best time to do it, gone are the days of making competitors go prone in muddy bogs, it’s now a well respected target sport and the addition of HFT shooting mats is just part of this.
HFT Shooting mats are essential pieces of equipment for shooting, they provide many functions such as:
- Keep you clean and comfortable, out of mud or wet leaves
- Provide grip for your arms and elbows, helping you keep steady while shooting
- Some can hold equipment like shooting gloves and score cards
Many HFT shooters will use things like Carp landing mats or Yoga Mats as shooting mats but they have a couple of limitations such as being the wrong size for a full grown adult to lay on or in the case of Yoga Mats they are often slippy once you’re wearing outdoor clothing and some soak up mud and water. People used these mats because they used to be far less expensive than dedicated HFT shooting mats but this is no longer the case. For just a few quid more you can get a real shooting mat designed for the job.
Best HFT Shooting Mat
AIM Field Sports are a UK manufacturer of shooting accessories and are well loved within the shooting community. This shooting mat (along with their rifle cases) is one of their better known products and you will see these being used by many people in the HFT circuit.
This shooting mat has many features that made it my #1 pick for a hunter field target shooting mat. First, it measures 180cm long x 90cm wide, this makes it the perfect size for most adults. It's width is particularly nice, this allows you to place the mat at your shooting position and move around once in prone to find the best position for the target without your legs or body coming off the mat. It gives you a nice margin of error when placing the mat.
I also like the front section of the mat (the black patch). This is a high-grip rubber-like material which really does not let your elbow or arms slip once in position, this makes shooting easier and allows you to really push into the supporting peg to get a steady aim.
The front section also features two waterproof clear windows often used by shooters to store reference charts for aim points as well as charts to bracket targets for rangefinding.
This was the best mat I tested! It offered superb functionality and was extremely comfortable. The folding design made it easy to pick up and move around the shooting course and it also came with a storage case that kept any mud contained when I put it back into my car.
In Your Sights is not a brand I had seen or heard of when I bought this mat but I didn't let that put me off, you can tell from the shooting listing on Amazon that it had all the right features to be a great shooting mat and ultimately shooting mats are just large pieces or material, not much can go wrong.
I was pleasantly surprised by this product. It features many of the same things as the AIM field sports mat but for less than half the price... Made from 1000D nylon, it has lots of grip on the material itself, it's waterproof, features a nice thin foam between the bottom and top of the mat making it very comfortable.
It also measures at 210cm x 70cm, offering a very nice shooting platform to move around on and find the perfect spot for shooting off a peg.
This is a perfectly good mat, it worked very well. My only little complaint would be that the roll up design made it annoying to drag around a shooting course but that's only because I've been spoilt by my AIM shooting mat. It's not a big deal but I had to find something negative.
- Waterproof Padded Mat
- Compact & Lightweight
- Great for pistol and rifle shooting
- Tough And Durable Material: This shooting mat made with tough and durable PVC material that is water and chemical resistant. Re-enforcement Cross stitching in critical areas.
- Size(about): This shooting roll mat folding length 20.5CM/8.07in; diameter 10CM/3.94in; expanded length is 199.3CM/78.46in; expanded width is 80CM/31.50in
- Shoulder Strap: Carry handle and an adjustable shoulder strap. Shoulder strap can serve Double duty to help secure your firearm bipod in place, preventing the rifle from moving forward under recoil.
- Slip Resistant Mat: The roll up shooting mat features elbow and knee slip resistant.
- Material: 1000D nylon
- Water-resistant Padded Mat : Made from 1000D double-layered Nylon with waterproof coating for mild to extreme weathers
- Shooting Mat:Compact Size: about 19.50 ,The roll up shooting mat features elbow and knee slip resistant.
- Slip Resistant Mat: Shoulder Strap: Carry handle and an adjustable shoulder strap. Shoulder strap can serve
- Double duty to help secure your firearm bipod in place, preventing the rifle from moving forward under recoil.
- Exquisite; compact; easy to carry Easy to fold in backpack or the front pocket of a bag. Durable and convenient.
- Water-resistant Padded Mat SD04: Made from 1000D double-layered Nylon with waterproof coating for mild to extreme weathers
- Low Profile: Rolls up small and tight with compression straps and Duraflex UTX quick-release buckles (Unfolded Size - 58"(L) x 29"(W) x 0.3"(T)/147cm*74cm*0.8cm)
- Provides Extra Comfort: Designed with anti-slip PU elbow/knee patches for steady aims and quick fires
- MOLLE Compatible: There are two rows of 1" military spec webbing for securing extra gear if needed
- Rolls Out with Enough Space : A simple mat to lay out and keep your body that above the knees out of the mud, dust, or moisture for long-range shooting, hunting or military applications
- HIGH QUALITY WEATHERPROOF CANVAS MATERIAL
- VALUE FOR MONEY
- DURABLE & GOOD QUALITY SHOULDER STRAP & HANDLE
- CAN BE ROLLED UP EXTREMELY COMPACT
- BSA Rifle Case / Shooting Mat
- This ultra hard-wearing riflecase represents the ultimate in protection for your rifle – and you! Not only does it provide a 48-inch, fully-padded, securely zipped, easily portable storage and transport system for a fully-scoped rifle with a bi-pod, this product has a fold-out extension which turns it into a full-length shooting mat.
- Fully kitted-out with Velcro'd compartments for two air bottles, your shooting documents, pellets, silencer and cleaning kit, the Tactical Case Mat is constructed from super-tough, wipe clean nylon for year after year of service to you and your rifle.
- External length 48" (122cm) - Maximum rifle length 46" (116cm)
Conclusion – Which shooting mat is best?
The best shooting mat for you will largely depend on your budget and what you think will work best for your shooting ground. Many shooters will carry multiple mats when traveling and pick one on the day depending on what they face (in particular wet weather where grip is more important than staying dry, as you’re going to get wet anyway…).
Out of all the mats I tested I feel the AIM Field Sports shooting mat was the best, it offered the best comfort and features. It was simple to move around the HFT course because of it’s folding design and never tried to roll up on me while attempting to use it. It’s only downside was the price…
The best value pick out of the shooting mats I tested was the “in your sights” pro shooting mat. It offered many of the same features of the AIM field sports mat but came in at half the cost… It found it a bit harder to use when taking it around a course due to the roll up design but it was just as good in every other way. It really is a bargain!
For those looking to spend the minimal amount to get started with hunter field target you can go with the Soundswinds shooting mat which offered great levels of comfort and grip on the elbow for the price of two tins of pellets. This would make a great gift for any shooter for those looking to surprise someone!
Ultimately the choice is yours, any of the three mats above will serve you well. The most important part of any sport is enjoying yourself and unless you’re a masochist who enjoys getting covered in mud and then driving home covered in this stuff a shooting mat is probably a good idea for any beginner shooter.