F Class Competition in Australia

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PandaShooter
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F Class Competition in Australia

#1 Postby PandaShooter » Sat Dec 09, 2017 7:23 am

As time marches on, bringing with it new technologies, I think it is prudent to step back and look at the implications of these “advances” on our sport.
When Canadian shooter George Farquharson came up with the idea of F Class in the 1990’s his goal was to introduce a shooting discipline which would allow aging Target Rifle (TR) shooters to continue enjoying their pastime by providing aids to sighting and holding the rifle i.e. a telescopic sight and a bi-pod and rear bag.
A consequence of the introduction of F Class, which I don’t think George foresaw, is that the majority of new shooters are choosing F Class over TR as their discipline of choice, which is not good news for the sport of TR, but that is an issue for TR shooters to address. As F Class shooters we should be asking new shooters why they have chosen F Class over TR and use their answers to make F Class even more attractive to new shooters.
Today we have two international F Class disciplines, FTR and F Open.
F Open is the Formula 1 of F Class having the least restrictive rules, the main ones being a weight limit for the rifle of 10 kilograms and maximum calibre size of 8 millimetres.
FTR is more restrictive. It only allows two cartridges to be shot, the .223 Remington and the .308 Winchester. Rifles must be shot off a bi-pod and the weight limit for rifle and bi-pod is 8.25 kilograms.
Being International classes the rules are largely outside the control of Australian shooters, who then really only have the choice of participating or not. If you want to compete at the highest levels make your choice between the two classes and save your pennies, because to be as competitive as possible you just have to buy the gear which allows you to maximise your scores, and it is expensive (but very nice to use!).
Some of the recent trends have been to short-range benchrest gear which allows a very stable hold (think SEB and Farley joystick rests and SEB rear bags) and the ability to load and fire shots very quickly so as to make the most of a favourable wind condition (think dual port actions and ammunition holders mounted next to loading port). These items will set you back a good $2,500. But for a really good idea of the cost involved in competing at the highest level you only need to speak to any one of the Australian representatives to the recent World Championships in Canada.
Even more recently the introduction of electronic targets has removed the delays inherent in pulling and marking paper targets. This advance has delivered the greatest benefit for those using the short-range benchrest gear and made the sport more like benchrest shooting for score from the prone position.
For those shooters who desire to represent Australia their path is clear. They need to adopt the gear and shooting technique that allows them to shoot the best possible scores in International events. And, for “the rest of us” we need to support them to do their best (and soak up some of their reflected glory!). However, “the rest of us” fall into the majority of shooters so we need a discipline which caters well to our requirements, whatever they may be.
In this regard Australian F Class shooters are in a very fortunate position in having a uniquely Australian F Class discipline to choose, which is F Standard. Fortunate because we have a discipline which we can tailor to our wishes unencumbered by International negotiation. This is why I am writing to you to encourage you to think about and discuss possibilities for the future of F Standard.
That very insightful gentleman, Spencer Dunstall, said that F Standard had moved away from its original intent and had morphed into a restricted-cartridge F Open class. I think this has happened because failing to adopt the abovementioned advances in gear would make a shooter less competitive in the world of electronic targets (and most of us want to be competitive, as least some of the time!).
What could we do to lessen the impact of technology on the F Standard discipline (and make shooting less expensive and therefore attractive to more new-shooters)?
Some of the thoughts that have run through my head are:
1. Introduce a delay in electronic targets to mirror the time it used to take to pull and mark paper targets. This would remove much of the advantage of the shoot-fast gear, and therefore may not be favoured by those shooters presently using it (good scores are addictive!);
2. Make F Standard rules more restrictive.
a. Perhaps only allow the use of bi-pods.
b. Reduce the weight limit to match the FTR limit of 8.25 kgs for rifle and bi-pod.
c. Introduce cartridge specific sub-classes for .308 Winchester and .223 Remington (the much-reduced recoil of the .223 allows comfortable use of a much lighter rifle).
3. Introduce a factory rifle sub-class where the rifle has to be a bought-over-the-counter model rather than a custom-built rifle.
4. A combination of 2c and 3.
When I first started Big Bore shooting, which was in 2009 at the age of 58 years, I chose F Standard because I could get into it cheaply. I used a new Tikka Varmint rifle in .223, a Harris bi-pod and a second-hand Nikko-Stirling scope. I think the total outfit cost me $1,600 and weighed about 5 kgs. It was a delight to carry and shoot off the shoulder. I could carry all my shooting gear onto and off the mound in one trip without risking a hernia. I may be looking through rose-coloured glasses but I long to return to that level of unsophisticated gear (and I would love to be 58 years again and be able to shoot prone rather than off a bench – more damn stuff to carry!).
Anyway, I would like to hear what you think the future of F Standard should look like.
Regards
Cory Lang

DannyS
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#2 Postby DannyS » Sat Dec 09, 2017 7:59 am

Hi Cory, interesting post. I'll chuck in my two bobs worth.

1. I think changing rules backwards in any class is not a good way to go. Shooters have already equipped themselves to shoot in a particular class and stopping them from using already approved equipment is a sure fire way of pissing them off.

2. Off the shelf rifles like your old tikka probably fit best within the rules of FTR. Maybe FTR could have a subclass. Yeah , I know, not another class.

3. Many people these days seem to have an almost unlimited budget and will buy the best, or most expensive equipment in any class, and then there are those that either can't afford or don't wish to spend much. I really don't think we are much different to most other sports, I could spend $30 or $30000 on fishing gear and still catch fish with either setup. There is still nothing wrong with using an omark or similar but some people seem to turn up their nose at the idea. For newbies, I suggest buying good secondhand gear and learn how to shoot and read the wind etc.

Been a while since we caught up in Tassie. Still remember you scoring a possibles with factory ammo.

Cheers
Danny

Steve N
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#3 Postby Steve N » Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:12 pm

Hi Cory I dont think you can put the F Standard genie back in the bottle without upsetting a lot of shooters that have invested a lot of time, effort and money into developing very sofisticated setups. I agree with Spencer's comparison to a restricted FOpen class.
There are plenty of lower cost rifles and rests being used though and many of the shooters using them do very well so I believe there is still a lot there for shooters on a budget. I don't think any subclasses are needed for factory rifles etc as we have FStandard B Grade. Some tightening up of B Grade eligibility might not go astray though to stop A Graders going back there and then cleaning up when they finally fit a new barrel.
I am not a fan of no delay which I believe is just another unplanned and unforseen result of ETs but I think we should leave the rules as they are. FStandard is a very strong and well supported competition as it is and anyone wanting something different can easily migrate to FTR or F Open.
Steve.

Gyro
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#4 Postby Gyro » Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:35 pm

Steve, aren't you saying you don't agree with the way F Standard ( which I don't shoot ) has evolved but best it is left alone just so some don't get pissed off ?

I went to Trentham last weekend and we shot all long range and all on E Target marking. My loose plan for the weekend was NOT to "chase the spotter" just so I might learn something from the flags/mirage in view of our upcoming Nationals being on Manual Marking, but when I abandoned that stategy and just mindlessly sent them all down there I got my best score. Interesting ?

Steve N
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#5 Postby Steve N » Sat Dec 09, 2017 6:42 pm

F Standard is what it is and has a very big following compared to our other f class disciplines. I prefer F Open but am always impressed how well the Standard shooters do.

scott/r
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#6 Postby scott/r » Sun Dec 10, 2017 9:37 am

As a t/r shooter (who does shoot f/tr and standard on practise days occasionally), I don't quite understand where all this "future of f class" talk is coming from. As I see it, you guys have three of the best scoped disciplines in the world. Four if you include standard B.
F open is and probably will always be the benchmark for all target disciplines world wide. These guys deserve to be able to shoot from the best equipment available. And that, in my opinion also covers what the individual is prepared to pay for said equipment.
F/TR is where I beleive is where you will find most of the "older" t/r shooters will head if they still wish to compete at International levels, if they are fortunate enough to have the skill level and, again, the finances. If they don't then they do have the option of club and state level of either f/tr or standard. And with the same gear they already have, as most of us already have scopes and reats for load development purposes.
And as far as stanard goes, this has got to be one of the best entry levels into any sport I've ever been a part of in my life. Guys and girls can rock up to any range with just about any 223 or 308 on the market and enjoy themselves. Where they go from there is completely up to us. And , yes I mean us. If they are having a fat old time shooting 45-50 out of 60, then who are we to tell them they aren't good enough to keep shooting with the rest of us.
But ,if they are interested and want to shoot 60's, then that's when it's up to us to help guide them to those 60's. If, financially, they are able to go out and buy are the good gear, then cool.But if they aren't, then why is so wrong for these guys to shoot off Caldwell type rests and bag or a folding bi-pods until they can save up for the good stuff.
I understand that this post is about the upper levels of competition, but if we aren't careful about how we look after each and every one of these new guys rocking up with a hunting rifle to have a go at long range, then we may just miss out on a potential world champion in the making. I beleive that the current open world champ turned up for his first go with a hunting rifle, so you never know who you might be looking after for their first go.
I don't get why you guys want to change things within these disciplines when they have the potential to skyrocket this awesome sport back to it's glory days of having 400-500 competitors at a queens, when really all we need to do is show the new ones just how good it can be. It's working a treat out in the country clubs, where most of us are showing big numbers in new members. And as I just mentioned, who knows where new members can end up.
Scotty.
Last edited by scott/r on Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DannyS
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#7 Postby DannyS » Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:01 pm

Scott, you make some very good points but I think you may be missing the point that so far, including you, most posts have been about leaving F Standard alone. Which I whole heartedly support.

Cheers
Danny

Steery
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#8 Postby Steery » Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:23 pm

I concur with Corey.

We see to many new shooters turn up at club levels with varmint rifles keen to have a go, but after competing against an F Class rifles (class doesn't matter) they simply don't return.

If clubs considered creating a varmint class (once a month) @ club level, this may capture 30% of potential new members / shooters to our sport.

I think majority of us recall the challenges of starting out & trying to compete against F Class rifles.

If new shooters can see the light at the end of the tunnel as I did, they will start to improve their equipment to be competitive.

I also agree with DannyS in relation to the out lay F Class Standard shooters have committed to the sport.

I think we just need to consider all options to ensure the safe guard of target shooting in general.

Steery

AlanF
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#9 Postby AlanF » Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:59 pm

Encouraging shooters who turn up with hunting rifles is good, but its often hard to give them good value for their membership. Firstly you usually can't offer them a path to a higher level of competition (e.g. Pennant teams and OPMs), and secondly many clubs regularly shoot distances where most hunting rifles are not practical. A possible solution would be to have reduced membership fees for shooters in this category, but I fear this might be opposed at the higher levels of our organisation.

johnk
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#10 Postby johnk » Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:07 pm

I'm not so sure that we'd ultimately gain from a factory rifle division.

It's my perception that F/TR with unlimited bullet weight was the child of the US where the expectation was that the tactical set would find it an alternative to their main discipline, thus reinforcing F class ranks. The reality has been that generally tac rifles have been uncompetitive Stateside & their users have either left, or demand an extra discipline for their equipment - and we all know how gleefully a promoter of smaller matches will include another division.

sungazer
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#11 Postby sungazer » Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:05 pm

The rules in F standard esp for the 223 really stop the use of factory rifles just by specifying such a small amount of projectiles that can be used. most factory 223 are from 1.9 twist to 1.12 twist and the specified bullet weight in the rules is 80grn. The 80grn really needs a 1.8 twist of better.

macguru
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#12 Postby macguru » Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:57 pm

sungazer, some savages lrps are 7 twist and i think tikkas are 8. I tried lighter bullets and when i had my 223 and you would not want to use them. they got blown around too much. cheers

sungazer
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#13 Postby sungazer » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:10 pm

I understand that there are some rifles with the tighter twists they are mainly sold as a long range hunter or combo type. It was more a general remark as many are much slower as mentioned 1.12 used to be the norm. Given they are again normally shooting the 55gr range projectiles.
Yes again not really suited to Long Range competition. It also shows that you cant really rock up with your 223 hunting rifle and be competitive. With all this being the case why are the rules so restrictive it just sort of says well not only wont you be competitive but we are not even going to let you try.

scott/r
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#14 Postby scott/r » Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:49 pm

Sungazer, most of the 223 rifles that turn up for the first time are sitting on folding bipods, so they fit straight into f/tr. Which means the the 1:12 55grn fit straight in. Granted they get blown around alot, but if we handle the situation correctly, there is no reason for them not to come back. Even if they are on a front rest, at the end of the day, they are just there to have a go and have a bit of fun.
What we normally do is offer the new shooter one of our members as a wind coach as such. It's not just to keep an eye on our electronic targets, it's more to encourage and to guide these newbies. We've found that we loose more new guys when they realise just how hard it can be reading wind and mirage, than we do from them realising their gear isn't up to scratch. And at the end of the day, not many hunting rifles are going to be competitive, nor are the shooters, until we give the direction for them to fit into one of the classes we already have going.
Scotty.

mike H
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Re: F Class Competition in Australia

#15 Postby mike H » Sun Dec 10, 2017 8:13 pm

sungazer wrote:I understand that there are some rifles with the tighter twists they are mainly sold as a long range hunter or combo type. It was more a general remark as many are much slower as mentioned 1.12 used to be the norm. Given they are again normally shooting the 55gr range projectiles.
Yes again not really suited to Long Range competition. It also shows that you cant really rock up with your 223 hunting rifle and be competitive. With all this being the case why are the rules so restrictive it just sort of says well not only wont you be competitive but we are not even going to let you try.

This is bullshit,no one is trying to exclude anyone,the truth is that the top shooters are using certain rifle/ammo combinations,within the rules of the matches,if your gear isn't matching that,and your ability is not equal to that,you will not win,be competitive,how hard is it to understand that.
Put it another way,you go for a swim,perhaps a walk,you enjoy the experience,why should an afternoon at the rifle club,be any different.For some strange reason,there seems to be an expectation that everyone who presents at a rifle range should win.If I had adopded that attitude,I wouldn't be here today.The one thing I will say is,if being the club champion is the be all and end all of your life,get over it.Club shooting should be for an introduction to the matches of the Rifle Association,training in the rules of the matches and companionship,after that,it is up to the individual to move to higher levels.
Mike.


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