What is the U.S. F-Class Rifle Team?
The U.S. F-Class Rifle Team, is a group of dedicated very-long-range shooters, who banded together to win the first World F-Class Championship 26-28 August 2002. The International Team consisted of a team captain, a team manager, a central coach, two firing point coaches, eight firing members and two alternates.
The team traveled to the Connaught Ranges just outside Ottawa, Canada, to compete in individual and team matches at 700, 800 and 900 meters. The U.S. team dominated the matches with wins in both team matches, against outstanding rivals from Germany, England, Australia, South Africa and Canada. Team members also placed second, third, fourth and sixth in the individual competitions.
How do I prepare for my first F-Class match?
The first thing you should do before going to your first F-Class match is to get a copy of the match program and find out what ranges you will shoot and how many shots you will fire. I always figure I will need 60 rounds for a Palma® match and as many as 30 for a 20-shot 1,000-yard string. Make sure you take enough ammo. Don’t scrimp on the sighters.
Once you know what distances you will fire, you need to get zeros for those ranges. If you don’t have easy access to a local range with the needed distances, don’t panic! Get yourself a computer ballistics program, measure the height of your scope centerline above the centerline of the bore, and find out the altitude of the range and likely temperature. You will also need to know the velocity of the bullets you are using. Using this data you can print out a come-up sheet.
Go to the local 100-yard range and put up a target at least three feet tall. Draw a plumbed vertical line from top to bottom. Put an aiming point near the bottom and zero for 100 yards. Next, mark horizontal lines on the target at the required height for 100 yards to hit at whatever ranges you will shoot at. For example: 300, 600, 800, 900, and 1,000 yards. Come up what you think are the required number of clicks on your scope to hit each line and zero for every distance and record the knob settings. The reason for the plumbed line is to keep you from tilting your rifle or to determine if the crosshair is crooked (canted). If you run out of adjustment before you reach the 1,000-yard line, you will have to shim you rear base or ring.
You will find as you shoot the actual longer distances that your short-range windage zero will be off to the right and you will have to put on about a minute left wind at 1,000 yards and less as you come closer to the firing line. This is normal and is due to the right hand spin of the bullet causing a drift to the right.
Let me say here it is very important that you know your “no wind zero.” How else are you going to know what to do when the wind changes from the right to the left or just quits altogether? You need to know it for all ranges.
Where can I find F-Class rules?
F-Class rules are very open compared too most shooting disciplines. There are currently no official USA rules. In the USA, naturally all existing NRA range safety rules apply. Most clubs who hold matches follow the rules of the Rocky Mountain Palma Matches (RMPM) put on each year in June by the Rocky Mountain Rifle Club rules which state: “Any rifle, .33 cal. or less, any sights, rests permitted (sand bags, bipods) Prone or back position. No muzzle brakes allowed.” You can interpret this, as you like, if you feel that a 90 pound (in the US not in Canada) benchrest rifle is what you need, you could use it. But, you’ll have to get it up to the firing point and setup in the time the range officer allows you. Plus, and more importantly, you have to get your gear off the line ASAP to allow the next relay to put their gear in place. In addition, you have to have it all put away in time to go to the pits when it is your time to pull targets. Folks, this is not a benchrest match!
The DCRA, in Canada at the Connaught range has the following F-Class rules: The restrictions are: calibers less then 8mm; rail guns and muzzle brakes are not allowed. Maximum rifle weight is 10 kg (approximately 22lbs). A bipod and / or sand bags (fore and aft) are permitted. Any sights are acceptable. Essentially this is prone benchrest. There are ammo restrictions to keep bullets inside the military reservation but most cartridges are OK. See the DCRA web site for up to date information. (www.dcra.ca)