F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

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DenisA
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F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#1 Postby DenisA » Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:35 pm

G’day All,

Over the last few years of intermittently taking non shooting friends to the range to try F-class and after the most recent 2, I’ve finally got fed up and cottoned on to how much of a waste of time it is. It’s a waste of my components and my weekend seeing as spending so much time introducing them detracts from my own shoot, if I get one at all.
Everyone enjoys themselves and says they’d love to do it again, that is until they ask about the costs. As I rattle through introductory level costs to the competitive costs I can see their distant stare set in as they try to hide the shock. For me, it’s embarrassing…… every time.

I see the same thing with the Come & Try’s at the club. I don’t think we’ve converted 1 single non shooter to a member in 2 – 3 years. Though we run lots through using 2 x top end new rifles.

Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

In my opinion, due to the costs of F-class (which are rising for so many reasons), I think F-class is, and should be treated as an ‘advanced shooting discipline’. I believe time should not be spent marketing to people that have never shot before, but to people that are already shooting and have the bug.
I think there are core things that new comers to F-class must have. A license, some shooting experience, a good understanding of firearms safety, some basic knowledge of handloading and above all, a desire to advance their shooting knowledge and skill.

In my opinion the biggest resource to engage people like this is through the SSAA. The guys that are interested in practical and long range varmint style shooting. Young blokes with disposable income and a desire to be a “recreational sniper”. No offence to those that have been around a little longer, but if we’re talking about the growth and the future of the sport then we need young club members who will hopefully become old club members, so forth and so on.
It wouldn’t be long before many of these shooters wanted more and advanced to F-class or FTR.

I’ve mentioned this idea so many times to experienced QRA members and have only got less than receptive attitudes or "what can I do about it". It’s not a new idea and it’s been brought up by many in the past. It’s up to each clubs management committee to engage the SSAA and get that relationship and the invites flowing if that’s what club members decide they want. Club members need to band together and show the committee's that's what's important to them. It’s such a simple solution that’s being held back by what I feel like is an “us and them” attitude.

F-class fought so hard to be accepted into the fullbore community and recognised and now that we’re in and playing, it seems that so many f-classers shun the practical shooters. Some of you guys that were in the thick of it must have forgotten how it felt.

Why can’t we set up to have practical and varmint rifles shoot along side us at club shoots?

Why can’t we allow them to use muzzle brakes on their side of the range?

Why can’t they use magazines with the correct safety procedures on ex-mil ranges?

Why is their style of shooting any less important than ours?

Why is there so much resistance to growth and different disciplines from within our own shooting community? After all, it's all long range fun and many principals are the same.

Anyway, the main point I wanted to make is that I feel that F-class should be treated as an “advanced shooting discipline” and efforts are mostly fruitless when marketed to non shooters. Why keep trying the same old that's not working.

Jase PTRC
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#2 Postby Jase PTRC » Thu Oct 15, 2015 6:44 am

Well said Dennis, I think you make a very good point. Im just starting out with my build on an Ftr rifle and its going to take me in excess of 12 to 18 months of saving and lay byes just to get the components to build my rifle, the average new shooter is most definitely going to be put off by having to build a rifle and scope combo that will cost them between 4 and 6 thousand dollars. I have friends who would likely shoot long range were there less restrictions on muzzle brakes and magazine feeding. Then there's also the perception of how they are going to be received by established target shooters and from what ive been told some of whom need to pull there heads out of there arses.

AlanF
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#3 Postby AlanF » Thu Oct 15, 2015 7:26 am

Denis,

Good post, and thank you for your efforts in trying to grow your membership. I too have put considerable thought into this problem, and think there is one key realisation that most clubs and associations would benefit from. In general OUR BEST PROSPECTS FOR NEW MEMBERS COME FROM MEN AGED AT LEAST MID-FORTIES. They have usually had past experience with rifles, and often with NRAA affiliated ranges via their fathers, uncles etc. This type of person is the most likely to join a club and stick at it because they are genuinely attracted to the unique character of F-Class. Notice I said men, and you might say we have reasonable numbers of women shooting. But from my observations, most women in F-Class would probably not be doing it independently of their partner. A similar thing can be said about young shooters. Most start out coming with their parent(s), and only a few stick around through their twenties and thirties. But the core strength of our membership is men in their 50s 60s and 70s. So what can we do about it? Well in my opinion, what's the problem with being dominated by a particular age group and gender? Most other sports are that way. Rather than spending time and effort trying to attract young people, why not recognise that they are more likely to be attracted to other forms of shooting, and concentrate our F-Class recruiting efforts on the 50s plus age group, where we'll get a better return on investment. By all means encourage young people to come and have a go, and plant the seeds for them to possibly return later in life.

In relation to other forms of target shooting which will attract more of the 20s to 40s age group, this is where we need to push our associations to be more flexible. I agree with your listed points Denis. We need to either modify Field Class or tailor a new class which is attractive to varmint/hunting/tactical rifles. If we don't do something now, while we have control over most of the long distance ranges around Australia, then we will continue to lose our ranges through lack of use.

Alan

scott/r
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#4 Postby scott/r » Thu Oct 15, 2015 7:40 am

Granted, if you want to be competitive from the start, then it's going to cost an arm and a leg to get all your gear. But how many are going to be competitive from the start even if they have all the good stuff. North arm have had a couple of young guys join the club from cats this year. One of them is a junior who wants to join the military in a few years. Not being old enough to purchase a rifle yet maybe he doesn't count in this discussion,but he hires the club rifle most practice weekends is thinking about shooting in comp weekends next year. No, the other young bloke has bought a cheap Omark and pedistal front rest. He's also bought a reasonably good scope that will go on his next rifle when he buys one. So, maybe we might be going about this wrong. Maybe we should be talking to the noobies about cheaper options for f standard just to get them on the mound. That way they can get all the good stuff along the way if they desire. I know I would never have been able to give this awesome sport a go if I wasn't given this advice from the start.

DenisA
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#5 Postby DenisA » Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:23 am

A couple of basic ideas that I have that could get the SSAA members flowing is to firstly offer reciprocal rates as many golf clubs do. The SSAA members would pay the same range fee's as the QRA members. This might also work for us in that it might inspire reciprocal rates for QRA members on SSAA ranges for load testing and such.

Secondly, since SSAA already have so many different shooting disciplines and easily manage them including multi loading events, we could ask them if they want to develop the long range practical/varmint shooting program (based on our targets and course of fire) and shoot along side us on clubs days with their own R.O's involved.

DaveMc
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#6 Postby DaveMc » Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:46 am

Denis - Totally agree with the cost barrier being a major deterrent.
We have approached the problem in a different way (similar to scott)

I believe in step by step now and am trying to drive entry costs down to draw people in. One of the major issues I have is shooters telling new potential members they "must" buy a full custom rifle to be competitive and don't bother with factory. Whilst there are some elements of truth to this I believe you turn away most before they begin.

We, on the other hand talk new shooters around to the benefits of starting with something like a Tikka T3 Varmint or CTR and shooting in the FTR or FS class to start - especially at 300, 500 and 600m. It is surprising how many new members we have encouraged in doing this. Some have shot very well with these outfits and are indeed competitive - especially out to 600m. Others have really gotten into the sport, moved on and are building new F class custom rifles (12 month wait up here!!) and sell their existing rig, others have added GRS stocks, bedding jobs, trigger jobs and finally longer barrels to what ultimately is quite a stiff action and decent trigger - I would argue as competitive as anything out there and have built it up slowly, piece by piece. Whilst the ultimate outlay may be 75% of a custom rig, the slower cash payments makes it much easier for most. Spending a couple of grand up front and building slowly slowly is a very good approach for most who will never compete at national level and are in it to learn about shooting and loading to start with.

If the SSAA gets this new disciple off the ground then it will seamlessly integrate with F class with this approach. You will be able to encourage the LRP shooters to come across (after removing muzzle brake :D ) and give it a go - especially at the shorter ranges.

Norm
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#7 Postby Norm » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:06 am

Good post Denis,
You make some good points.

The NRAA needs to take a serious look at this issue and put together an action plan. This can then be given to the State Rifle Associations to implement.

I don't see anything happening at club level until changes are made to the SSR's to include these sort of rifles as a competitive stand alone class.

The logical thing would have been for the NRAA and SSAA to combine recourses and come up with a join set of LRP Rifle rules that could have been included in both organisations SSR's. The boat has set sail on this, however I still think its not too late to salvage something.

DaveMc
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#8 Postby DaveMc » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:17 am

Given the current situation with 3 F class disciplines and one with 2 grades I do not like the chances of the NRAA putting in another. The best chance will be to support the SSAA new category (by arranging joint use of range or leasing it out to them etc) and use that as a pool to draw over shooters into the F class disciplines - Or as stated encourage shooters to "take part" at a reasonable level as outlined above. Have no fear some (maybe not many but certainly the top few) 8.5 kg rifles shot of Harris with muzzle brakes will be competitive with a lot of FTR rifles - and that has been shown to be competitive with FO! a cheap factory 308 will be about as competitive against a serious SSAA long range shooter (as per the current rules) as against a good FS or FTR or even FO shooter.
Surely this is one reason for keeping FSB alive if there is any???

daj
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#9 Postby daj » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:30 am

Denis, you nailed it on every point. Well said. =D>

Norm
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#10 Postby Norm » Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:18 pm

Can NRAA ranges be leased out to hold SSAA events?
My range license only permits shooting under the NRAA SSR's. So I don't think a SSAA discipline could be conducted at our range unless the rules of that discipline were written into the NRAA SSR's.

DaveMc
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#11 Postby DaveMc » Thu Oct 15, 2015 4:51 pm

SSAA sub lease ours but it is a military range to start with and would depend on your states range regulations and templates I guess.

DenisA
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#12 Postby DenisA » Thu Oct 15, 2015 6:54 pm

It seems like it would be complicated to start by trying to merge their current new practical discipline officially.

Just a simple verbal agreement and handshake between local QRA and SSAA club committee's would be enough to get the ball rolling. As the relationships grows so would opportunity.

Hypothetically, how difficult would it be for a SSAA committee to register an NRAA club in their local area? If it was possible, then they could surely use NRAA ranges???

DenisA
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#13 Postby DenisA » Sat Oct 17, 2015 10:56 pm

I don't think that this movement would be lead by the NRAA. The example is FTR. It was an international discipline not recognised in Oz and a few in Australia had been keen for a while to get it off the ground. Its seems that NRAA didn't respond until after the 2013 success and resulting interest and pressure.

I think that bringing SSAA members in and welcoming their practical rifles is a movement that individual clubs must make to begin with. If there were enough clubs doing it then the movement would have the attention of the NRAA.

What if the ozfclass community came up with a standard proposal that those interested in could print out and forward as a motion at their next AGM's.

It would be a great leap forward if a lot of people around the country did this with a common, well thought out submission.

johnk
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#14 Postby johnk » Sun Oct 18, 2015 9:11 pm

There was a suitable division some time back that was supported particularly in the Northern Rivers of NSW, but it was inexplicably dropped from the SSR when a major rewrite occurred & hasn't been reinstated. Ken Larkin can expound on this.

However, the SSRs do provide for existing classes to be tweaked with advance notice by promoters & clubs could do the same at their level, I'm sure without detriment to insurance conditions. For example, many years back, our club shot Field class prone only at 300, 400 & 500 yards with optional Harris bipod which most of us used. Our 25/06 & .270 hunting rifles were eminently suitable for that class.

Realistically, surely the expectations of wannabees would be to participate, perhaps compete at fringe events but not to have an expectation of winning with slung-over-the-shoulder field rifles.

Norm
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Re: F-class is an advanced discipline. $ stops new shooters

#15 Postby Norm » Mon Oct 19, 2015 8:59 am

Denis.

I have been having discussions with a lot of shooters about this type of event.
There is a common line of thought about what is required and this is to keep it as simple as possible and include as many people as possible.

Keeping in mind the SSR's and local range permits.

The class needs to permit a well set up field or factory rifle to be competitive. It should also encourage shooters to use the same gear as they would in the field.

To do this a weight limit of 8.5kg would be desirable to fit in with the existing SSAA rules. This weight limit however would include the weight of the rifle, bipod and rear rest. Bipods would need to be of the folding type. (I would actually like to see a lower weight limit of around 6kg).

The bipod is to be of the folding type.

So no F/TR type Bipods, no pedestal rests and no heavy rear sand bags.

The idea is for a shooter to walk to the mound with a rifle fitted with a Harris type bipod and light weight rear beanie bag. They can also shoot off the shoulder or use their hand as a rear rest if preferred.

This would cover most field shooters and the equipment in common use today.


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