Historically F-Class started in Canada in the 90's by George Farquharson who came up with the idea in order to allow older shooters who's eyesight was no longer adequate for the open "Iron sights" and who bodies weren't up to the task of using a sling as used for Fullbore T/R.
These shooters wanted to keep shooting along side their friends that they'd shot with all their lives and by adding a scope and rest F-Class was born.
The secret soon got out that F-Class is fun and it's currently one of the fastest growing shooting disciplines in the world.
Savage, Tikka, Savage. Your factory gun is good enough.
With the introduction of F-Class some of its differences caused a few problems. Target Rifle (T/R) is restricted to .223 and .308 chambered rifles and F-Class allowed other calibers to be used; Calibers that were inherently more accurate and could therefore out shoot the old T/R shooters on the T/R targets.
With the initial implementation of F-Class came the introduction of smaller targets and rings scoring backwards from 10. This meant that F-Class shooters couldn't shoot on the same target as T/R shooters. This was a problem because people wanting to switch over could no longer shoot on the same target with their friends (T/R shooters) and couldn't compete with their existing equipment (.223 and .308) against the new guns on the new targets.
This led to the introduction of F-TR (Overseas) and F-Standard (Australia). There are some differences between the two but mainly they share the same target and carry the same caliber restrictions as T/R.
Savage .223 LRPV in a Custom stock at 800m
F-Class is shot from the prone position from distances ranging from 300yds to 1000yds or 300m to 1000m depending on the limitations of the rifle range (i.e. some ranges only go to 600m so clubs using those ranges will shoot from 300m out to 600m). Where disabilities or health considerations prevent a shooter from shooting prone they may use a portable bench or table.
Anzac Range goes out to 800m so we shoot from 300m to 800m.
F-Standard is the discipline that we typically shoot because we share targets with the T/R shooters. Some of our members shoot converted T/R rifles and some shoot factory .308 and .223 rifles. Some use Bipod's and some use Pedestal rests.
F-Standard is Australian only and is closer to true F-Class than the overseas discipline of F-TR. e.g. It allows the use of a pedestal rest instead of just a bipod.
Bullet selection is controlled by the F-Standard rules. For the .308 you are typically restricted to the 155gr bullets by Sierra, Dyer and Nosler but 144gr bullets can be used. For the .223 you're typically limited to 80gr bullets by Hornady (Amax), Sierra and Nosler and 69gr/68gr bullets by Sierra/Hornady.
A reasonable F-Standard Rifle: Savage .223 VLP
With the introduction of the Super-V target (see below) F-Open has recently changed targets from the champ target to the IFCRA target used by F-Standard. This is a fantastic development because we now have T/R, F-Standard and F-Open all shooting on the one target.
At Bankstown-Chatswood rifle club this has led to a number of our shooters switching to or experimenting with F-Open.
If you previously thought that you couldn't come out and shoot because you didn't have a .223 or a .308 you can forget about that and bring out whatever you have as long as it's less than a .308 in energy.
A good F-Open Rifle: Savage .6BR
Course of Fire
The standard course of fire for our club is 2 details each consisting of 2 sighters and 10 scoring shots. Good sighters can be kept as scoring shots. The absolute centre of the target is scored as a super V or more specifically an X with 6, 5, 4 and 3 and 2 rings present on the target. Typically the remainder of the target area is considered to be worth 1 point (a hit) but this does vary from target to target. The maximum total of 60.10 points per detail with a total of 120.20 points being the highest possible total for both details. Scoring for F-Standard and F-Open is identical.
On paper targets for each shot fired, the target is pulled down and the shot marked then raised so the shooter can observe where the last shot landed and the scorer can record the score. With the switch to electronic targets for club shooting there is no delay in marking the targets. The shots appear on the shooters screen just a few seconds after the bullet hits the target.
As a club we take turns to shoot on one or more targets (depending on numbers) and we share the range with many other clubs who will have their own target(s).
Because our club has both F-Class and T/R shooters and the targets are the same for both disciplines the F-Class and T/R shooters all shoot together.
The targets vary in size for each distance but do so in a way that doesn't significantly alter their appearance to the shooter.
As can be seen in the diagram below the targets, when adjusted to angular measurements, appear very similar in size relative to the shooter.
The actual dimensions are listed in the following table (dimensions in mm)
Note: ROT = Rest of Target
Basic Equipment for F-Class Standard (F-Standard):
- Rifle chambered in .308 or .223
- A reasonably good scope with a power level greater than 18x power and graduated windage and elevation turrets with a fine reticle and adjustments of 1/4 MOA
- Tapered scope rail or other scope mounting system capable of providing additional elevation adjustment
- Bipod or Pedestal style front rest (Benchrest)
- Rear sandbag
- Shooting mat
- Gun Case or Bag
- A range box or some other way of carrying your gear.
- Ear muffs (plugs might seem ok if you're planning to shoot a .223 but the guy right beside you might be shooting a .308)
- Ammunition case. (e.g. MTM cases. For non reloaders it saves messing around with boxes of ammunition on the line).
- Cleaning accessories
- A good hat
For a detailed listing of equipment that is suitable please see our Equipment section.
Setting up to shoot (beginners guide)
Before you shoot you will have been allocated a target to shoot on. You may be taking turns to shoot on the target as that is how F-Class works. Your target allocation will have an associated bit of space on the firing line or mound that is typically wide enough for 3 or 4 shooters to occupy. Because people share the target there will usually be more than one person occupying the mound space at a time either shooting, coaching, setting up or packing up.
Mound Space for target E9
When you arrive out on the range at your allotted mound space you typically unload all your gear and do some preparation while waiting for the range open command. Rifles can usually be handled behind the line with bolts out. For a bipod rifle you would attach it's bipod to it at this stage. You should also set you scope elevation adjustments for distance that you're shooting. You may choose to adjust for wind at this stage too but the wind will likely change in the meantime so it's not important.
When your turn to shoot comes up you carry your gear to the mound and start setting it up. If the range has been called open (people are shooting or rifles are on the line) then remember your ear muffs. Generally you position your shooting mat just before the peak of the mound. This allows your rifle to use the shape of the mound for some of it's elevation needs. Shooting over long ranges means we really thow those bullets up high. You position your rear bag and timber wedge on the mat. A timber wedge or other permitted object compensates for the slope and inconsistencies of the ground and provides a stable base for the rear bag. We have found that a wedge shaped object with some sort of foot is ideal when the small end is placed forward as it allows the bag to sit on a level surface.
A typical rifle setup showing wedge with angled feet to compensate for the slope of the mound.
Now bring the rifle to the mound and position it so that it's bipod is on or near the peak of the mound and the rifle is behind the firing line. Re-adjust as needed to position the rear bag in the mid position of the butt. Next adjust the bipod to put the crosshairs just under the centre of the target. If you haven't done so adjust the scope for the wind. From this position you should be able to pull the rifle down into the bag to get the crosshairs in the center of the target. With small movements of the bag backwards and forwards you can adjust for elevation on the target. At this stage it becomes a personal preference issue whether you move the bag or adjust the bipod. Typically though bipod adjustments are gross adjustments and rear bag adjustments are a lot finer.
It's now very important to get a feel for how comfortable you are with the rifle in it's position. The rifle should be in a comfortable position with the butt firmly in your shoulder while maintaining good firm contact of the stock to the bag. If you're lifting the stock out of the bag then you need to readjust. This may mean moving the bag, moving the wedge, replacing the wedge for a bigger one or rotating the mat to position your body better. If you're not comfortable then you won't shoot well.
In some circumstances (medical/cheating hehe) you are permitted to shoot of a folding table in which case you needn't worry about the mat or timber wedge and you can just set your gear up on the table.
Note in the background; a table set up for shooters unable to lie prone.
With the rifle set up and steady in the bags you should now check that the scope is fully in focus. If you're the only one using the rifle then the scope should already have the eyepiece set up for your eyes. The eye piece is the bit that focuses the crosshairs. For first time setup or where others are sharing the rifle you first need to blur the scope. I find paper or even your hand in front of the scope will give you a backdrop for adjusting the eyepiece to put the reticle in focus. With the reticle in focus you adjust the scope to put the target image in focus by using the adjustable objective or side focus knob. To test if the focus is perfect you can shift your head up and down a bit while looking through the scope (and not touching the rifle). If the crosshairs appear to shift their position on the target as you move your head then the focus is not perfect (despite how clear the image may look). This will be difficult when there is mirage as the mirage will make the target appear to move anyway so it's up to you to take your best guess. If the crosshairs appear to move against the target you will need to adjust the focus a little bit more to remove that wobble. Fine tune the eyepiece/crosshair focus if necessary.
You are now ready to shoot.
There are many shooting styles and rifle holds and all have their pro's and cons. For first timers shooting F-Class there really isn't a preferred method however the following should give you few problems. Generally you position the butt of the rifle into your shoulder and with your hand on the grip of the stock pull the rifle both down into the bag and back into your shoulder. A firm fit into your shoulder will mean that you will suffer less (if at all) from the recoil of the rifle as you take each shot. With your other hand recommend either putting it over your shooting hand or lower down holding the bag for fine bag adjustments. Alternatively you can hold the forend of the rifle stock. It's very much a personal preference thing.
With a firm hold of the rifle it's now time to ensure that you are pointing at the center of the target. If you're using one of the fancy aluminium bipods you may have room to slide the rifle back and forth. Doing so will cause the butt of the stock to ride up and down in the bags and move the crosshairs up and down on the target. You can use this technique to get the croshairs centered on the target. Only use it for small adjustments though as a large adjustment may require that you shift your body position. With a harris or tactical style bipod you will not be able to shift the rifle back and forth as the legs are sort of fixed. The easiest approach is to slide the bag back and forth and then control elevation by varying how hard you pull the stock down into the rear bag. With a harris bipod it's a good idea to have a little forward force applied to the bipod when you take the shot. Basically you push forward with your shoulder a little bit to reduce the bounce.
As with anything you are free to try your own thing but this approach should give you few hassles which as a new shooter it's nice to avoid.