Breaking news from Ben Avery — the U.S. FT-R Team Blue, consisting of Phil Kelley, Dan Pohlabel, Derek Rodgers, Matt Schwartzkopf, and coach Jim Crofts, won the F-TR team event at the Berger Southwest Nationals. The “Blues” scored an impressive come-from-behind victory, finishing at 784-24X on Team Day 2 to secure the overall Berger SWN F-TR Team Championship. Well done gentlemen. Show in the photo, left to right are: James Crofts, Derek Rodgers, Ray Gross, Matt Schwartzkopf, Phil Kelley, and Dan Pohlabel.
Team member Matt Schwartzkopf is a double amputee below the knee, having had his lower legs removed due to a birth defect. Matt is an inspiration to us all. He told us: “This condition has not held me back from anything.” Jokingly, he added, “I may not have ‘a leg to stand on’, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still shoot 10s and Xs at 1000.” Matt is living proof that competitive shooting is a sport for all individuals — young and old, able-bodied and physically challenged.
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We’ll give you a break from SHOT Show coverage by taking you across the Atlantic to Great Britain. There Chris Parkin has been putting a Savage F-TR Rifle through its paces. Chris has reviewed this popular rifle in a field test just published by Target Shooter Magazine. Chris wrote a very detailed and thorough review. If you are considering any factory-based rifle for F-TR competition you should read this article. It is lengthy, but the text and photos are good and it is worth the investment of time.
Over the past few years, interest in F-Class competition has grown dramatically. SHOT Show opens tomorrow, so we thought we’d reprise an interesting interview captured two years back. At the 2013 SHOT Show we had a chance to talk about F-TR competition with U.S. National F-TR Team members Mike Miller and Stan Pate, two of America’s top F-TR shooters. We are reprising this interview for readers who may have missed it the first time around. If you shoot F-TR (even if you’re a High Master), we think you’ll learn a few things from this interview.
In this interview, Mike and Stan agreed to share their vast store of knowledge about long-range shooting. In a wide-ranging dialog, we discussed many topics of interest to F-Class shooters: position set-up, bipod shooting techniques (and hardware), gun-handling, and bullet selection. In addition, Mike and Stan offer some great advice on wind reading and precision reloading. These general tips will benefit all competitors, no matter what their discipline.
If you shoot F-TR or you are considering getting involved in this fast-growing shooting sport, definitely watch this 14-minute video interview from start to finish. Mike and Stan are true F-TR gurus whose knowledge of the F-TR game has been gleaned from years of top-level competition. If you shoot a .308 from a bipod, we guarantee you can learn much from Mike and Stan. If you follow their advice, we bet you’ll see your scores improve in future matches.
Watch Video for Tips from U.S. National F-TR Team Members Mike Miller and Stan Pate
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It’s much easier to see bullet holes “in the white” than in the black center of a High Power or F-Class Target. That’s why some shooters use “negative” black-to-white targets for practice sessions. Also, even those who compete at 800-1000 yards find it useful to practice at 300 yards. At that shorter distance, you can, on most days, see bullet holes with a good spotting scope. (Forget trying to see bullet holes at 1000 yards with any spotting scope, no matter how expensive).
The only problem with practicing at 300 yards is finding a correctly “shrunken” version of the target actually used in long range competition. Well guys, you’re in luck. One of our Forum members, Sleepygator, has produced “reduced-distance” targets (with black ring-lines on white background) for practice use at 300 yards. Only the center 10 and X rings are black, so you can see bullet holes easily “in the white” on most of the target (and this uses less ink when printing). There is an official reduced-distanced standard for 300-yard F-Class matches. This utilizes the NRA No. MR-63FC – F-Class Target Center which is pasted over the MR-63 target. It provides a 1.42″ X-Ring, 2.85″ 10-Ring, and 5.85″ Nine-Ring. (The dimensions of F-Class targets are found in the NRA High Power Rules, Sec. 22, part 4.)
To duplicate the 300-yard target, Forum member SleepyGator has prepared a printable version of the MR-63FC Target Center, along with a pair of training targets with two bulls and five bulls. The two-bull and five-bull targets mirror the scoring rings on the MR-63FC, but they display only the innermost three rings and two rings respectively. All three targets are Adobe Acrobat files that can be easily printed. You may need to adjust the scale (sizing) on your printer to get the dimensions exactly correct. As noted above, when printed, the 10-Ring on all three targets should measure 2.85″. This should provide some handy practice targets you can use between matches. Thanks to SleepyGator for providing these targets. You can download all three as a .Zip archive. After downloading the .Zip file, just click on the .Zip archive to extract the individual targets.
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This past weekend, reigning F-TR National Champion James Crofts shot a match using the latest generation of the SEB Joy-stick Bipod, aka “Joy-Pod”. Apparently, James didn’t have any problems adjusting to the coaxial Joy-Pod. James definitely “felt the joy”, shooting a 200-9X score, his first-ever perfect 200 at 1000 yards in F-TR.
James reports: “I used the SEB Joy-Pod, it was amazingly stable. The Joy-Pod works amazing.” James is a “releaser” not a holder. When shooting with the Joy-Pod, he releases the joy-stick handle right as he fires: “I let go when breaking the shot”. Some other guys maintain light contact, allowing the joy-stick shaft to float back between/over their fingers during recoil. But it looks like James has a method that works.
SEB Joy-Pod Fitted on Savage-Actioned PR&T F-TR Rig
Here’s the rig James was shooting. Yes it has a Savage action, complete with AccuTrigger. James proves you don’t have to have a $1200.00+ custom action to shoot 10s and Xs at long range. The rifle was built by Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool. James wanted to thank Keith Trap (Forum member KT) for helping James do all of the testing on this rifle. James tells us: “I have decided this year I want to work more on myself as an individual shooter and not spend as much time [working with] my ammo and my rifles.”
CLICK PHOTO to See Full-screen image with more detail:
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and yes that’s a Savage action in this rig!
Note the grippy suede base-pad under the Edgewood rear bag, which features low-friction ear material.
USA F-TR National Champion James Crofts.
Photo by Kent Reeve.
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There have been some remarkable team performances at the 2014 F-Class Nationals. With good conditions, talented shooters, and ultra-accurate rifles, three teams have “raised the bar” with record-breaking performances this week in Phoenix.
Team Long Shots Breaks Records with 800-42X Score at 1000 Yards
Congratulations to the Long Shots rifle team for breaking the 80-shot, 1000-yard, F-Open Civilian and Open Team Match National Records with a score of 800-42X. That is amazing shooting! Give credit to Michelle Gallagher, David Bailey, Ken Dickerman, David Gosnell, and Mark Walker.
Michelle Gallagher (as Snow White) on Halloween with her four team-mates.
Team Grizzly — F-Open National Champions
Shiraz Balolia reports: “Team Grizzly just won the F-Open National Team Championship. This is the third major match that Trudie Fay has coached four shooters into winning. She was also our coach when she coached us to a win at the last National Championship in Raton, and then again in February this year (2014) when we set a new National record in the Palma course in Phoenix at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. Trudie is a heck of a wind reader!” Shooters are: Kenny Adams, Shiraz Balolia (Captain), Emil Kovan, and John Myers.
Team Sinclair — Six-Time National F-TR Champions
Ray Gross Posted: “I just got home after the Team Sinclair victory dinner… teammate Derek Rodgers set a new 1000-yard national record Wednesday, then beat it for a new, higher, record Thursday. Then we won the team National Championship today and set a new National Record doing it! We are ‘stone cold’, 6-time National Champions. I’m proud to be a part.”
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UPDATE: On October 29th, at the Nationals, Derek Rodgers beat his own new record, with a 200-12X!
Congratulations to Derek Rodgers for setting a new 1000-yard National Record with a score of 200-11X at the Arizona Long Range Regional in Phoenix. A past national F-Class Champion, Derek is a member of Team Sinclair and the U.S. National F-TR team. Derek’s rifle is built on a Kelbly action, using a Bartlein barrel and a McMillan stock. It is topped with a Nightforce Optics scope. His ammo was made using Berger bullets, Lapua brass and Hodgdon Powder.
F-Class competition continues this week at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix Arizona this week. The 2014 F-Class National Championhip runs October 28 through November 2, 2014. The F-Class National Championship is a multi-day match comprising of all shots at 1000 yards. There will be a mix of individual and four person team matches. The competition consists of two different Divisions: F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle). Each Division is made up of five different Categories: High Master, Master, Expert, Sharpshooter and Marksman.
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When we recently ran a story about Dennis Santiago’s new snakeskin Eliseo Tubegun, folks asked us if this kind of rifle can be competitive in F-Class competition. Here’s a detailed answer to that question by German Salazar, who runs the Riflemans Journal Website.
A while back, German Salazar published a three-part article on Shooting The Tubegun in F-Class. Links for all three segments are found below. The article covers some of the hardware German engineered to adapt his tubegun for long-range F-Class shooting with scope. If you’re an F-Classer, or just a fan of tubeguns, you should read German’s article, in all its parts.
In the intro to his multi-part F-Class Tubegun article, German explains:
Salazar: The tubegun has truly changed the face of High Power shooting over the past five years or so. Specifically, the CSS (Gary Eliseo) tubeguns, which are made for a broad variety of actions and configurable to single-shot or repeater, have truly helped the sport to grow. That’s not just idle talk, the two principal factors that made the tubegun so important to our growth are the ease of transition for AR15 shooters moving into a bolt-action rifle and the absolutely ridiculous length of time it currently takes to get a stock from the conventional stock makers. My last conventional stock took well over two years from order to delivery (plain fiberglass). One of my friends has now been waiting four years for a simple wood stock for a smallbore rifle. By contrast, tubeguns, which are largely CNC machined, are delivered in a reasonably short time — weeks or a couple of months at most.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the tubegun would never have attained its present success if it weren’t for one simple fact — they are brutally accurate. I have three CSS tubeguns, one chambered in .308 and two in .30-06 and they are my favorite prone rifles due to their accuracy and great ergonomics. Those factors are just as appealing to an F-Class competitor as to a prone shooter, and indeed, the tubegun is making solid inroads into F-Class. READ MORE…
Report by Vince Bottomley
For this year, the European F-Class Championships moved from its traditional November date to mid-September. England can be smitten with some dreadful weather in November and previous Championships have suffered everything from rain and mist, to sub-zero temperatures. It proved to be a wise decision and competitors enjoyed balmy, sunny weather for the whole week, with matches on September 12-14, 2014. The event was well attended with 206 individual entries and over 20 teams. With competitors from a dozen nations, this is one of the biggest F-Class events in the world.
Congratulations to Scotland’s Des Parr, the new F-Open champion (on V-count over James Finn), and congrats to Giulio Arrigucci of Italy, who won the F-TR title. Both Parr and Finn dropped only five points over the entire two-day individual competition. For more information (and full listing of match results) visit www.GBFclass.co.uk.
F-Open Individual Results
F-TR Individual Results
1. Des Parr (Scotland): 470.48V (possible 475)
2. James Finn (Ireland): 470.41V
3. Marco Been (Holland): 467.49V
4. Mik Maksimovic (GB): 465.38V
5. Daniel McKenna (Ireland): 464.40V
6. Dave Lloyd (GB): 463.36V
1. Giulio Arrigucci (Italy): 455.30V
2. Francisco Franco Mosquera (Spain): 454.30V
3. Sergii Gorbon (Ukraine): 452.36V
4. Tom Bond (GB): 449.29V
5. Valentin Pomomarenko (Ukraine): 449.29V
6. Russell Simmonds (GB): 449.29V
Over the past few years, numbers have increased steadily and this year, over 200 shooters assembled on Bisley’s famous Stickledown range on the Friday morning for the first of two days of individual competition, followed by Team Matches on the Sunday. The four days preceding the Championships were available for practice and informal competitions.
With near-perfect conditions for the first 800-yard stage, some excellent scores were recorded. Scotsman Paul Crosbie’s F-TR score of 75.12V not only took the stage win but also set a new GB record and equaled the top F-Open score (by Italian Gian Antonio Quaglino). Maximums were also recorded at 900 yards by both classes but at 1000 yards, Scotsman Des Parr’s 74.11V was a clear winner, with Italy’s Andrea Ceron’s recording a 72.6V in F-TR.
The Famous Stickledown Range at Bisley
At the end of Day One, Des Parr was leading Open Class by a single point and Spain’s Francisco Franco Mosquera had a two point lead in F-TR. The following day, competitors tackled the same course of fire to decide the title of European Champion.
Although a little overcast for the start of Day Two, the sun soon broke through and the fact that the top 36 Open shooters didn’t drop a single point at 800 yards gives an indication of conditions. Even the top 15 F-TR shooters ‘cleaned’ the target but, some relays experienced less favorable conditions.
At 900 yards, again the top nine Open competitors shot ‘possibles’ but, in F-TR, Ukraine’s Sergii Gorban’s excellent 74.9V was the top score. For the final 1000-yard shoot – a 2 and 20 this time, Ireland’s Kevin Clancy’s 95.5V was a great F-TR score but Dave Lloyd’s winning Open score of 99.6V was absolutely stunning.
In the end, Scotland’s Des Parr and Ireland’s James Finn tied on points with 470 of 475 possible, but Parr took the 2014 European F-Open title based on V-bull count: 48 for Parr vs. 41 for Finn. Italy’s Giulio Arrigucci won the F-TR Championship by one point over Francisco Franco Mosquera.
We were delighted to have American shooter Francis ‘Biff’ Conlon join us – shooting a borrowed rifle in F-TR (second from left in the above photograph). Biff shot as part of one of the F-TR Teams in the pre-Championship competitions and picked up a gold medal – note the unusual trophy! Maybe a few more Americans might think it worthwhile making the trip to shoot in next year’s Europeans.
The Championships end with the Teams Matches on the Sunday. These matches are for eight-man teams so, not all countries are able to field a team but four Open Teams and five FTR teams were fielded. Ranges are 900 and 1000 yards with 15 shots at each distance. Wind coaches are permitted.
Report from David Lloyd, current Great Britain F-Open Team Captain
I’ve just got back from the F-Class European Championships. The minor 4-man teams match was held last Thursday afternoon and was shot over 1000 yards with 2 + 20 to count. I was part of the victorious Team March (388.26V). In second place was the Midland Precision Guns Team with 383.26V.
The conditions were good and the level of competition was very high. Team March was captained by Gary Costello the UK and European importer of March scopes. The coach was Tony Marsh and he did a superb job of coaching the team to victory (he coached me to a score of 100-6Vs). The shooters were: Gary Costello, David Lloyd, Ian Boxall, Darren Stewart. Peter Walker was reserve shooter and register keeper.
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F-Class competition will be featured on this week’s episode of Shooting USA television. This week, Shooting USA takes an inside look at the rapidly-growing sport of F-Class shooting, with coverage of both F-TR and F-Open competition at 600 yards and beyond. This show will air three times on Wednesday, August 6, on the Outdoor Channel (see air times by region below). This episode will also feature the historic 1907 Winchester, a choice of gangsters in the 1920s.
The Shooting USA Hour on Wednesdays:
AIR TIMES BY TIME ZONE
Eastern Time 3:30 PM, 9:00 PM, 12:00 Midnight
Central Time 2:30 PM, 8:00 PM, 11:00 AM
Mountain Time 1:30 PM, 7:00 PM, 10:00 PM
Pacific Time 12:30 PM, 6:00 PM, 9:00 PM
The ‘F’ in F-Class stands for Farquharson. Canadian George Farquharson is credited with founding the sport in the 1990s. Farquharson wanted to create a discipline for fellow older shooters whose fading eyesight made it difficult to compete in traditional iron-sight high power matches. In 2007, the United States NRA officially recognized the prone shooting disciple. Since then the sport has grown rapidly. Over 350 shooters attended the 2013 F-Class Nationals in Raton, NM.
F-Class is similar to High Power rifle shooting, with competitors taking turns in the pits, pulling and scoring targets. Unlike conventional High Power shooting with iron sights, F-Class shooters use scopes (with up to 80x max power, though the most popular scope is still probably the 12-42x56mm Nightforce Benchrest).
All F-Class competition is shot prone. Competitors are classified into two divisions, F-TR (Target Rifle) and F-Open. F-TR rifles must be shot from bipod, and must be chambered for either the .223 Rem or .308 Win cartridges. Max F-TR gun weight is approximately 18.18 pounds, including bipod. In the F-Open division, rifles can weigh up to 10 kg (22 pounds) and front rests can be used (but you may shoot from a bipod if you wish). F-Open competitors may shoot any cartridge which is .35 caliber or under.
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2012 U.S. National F-TR Individual Champion James Crofts is one of America’s top F-Class shooters. A member of the 2013 World Championship-winning F-TR Team USA squad, James knows a thing or two about long-range shooting, that’s for sure. But you may be surprised to learn how James sharpens his shooting skills at relatively short distances. You see, James often practices with a .22 LR rimfire rifle at distances from 50 to 200 yards. James tells us: “Shooting my F-Class rimfire trainer saves me money and improves my shot process and wind-reading abilities.”
Remington rimfire 40X barreled action in PR&T LowBoy stock with PT&G bolt.
Rimfire Training Teaches Wind-Reading Skillsby James Crofts
Training with the rimfire is extremely useful and can be done from 25 yards out to 200 yards. I am lucky and can shoot 50 yards right off my back deck. That is far enough that any miscue on rifle handling will show up on the target. I use a two dry-fire to one actual shot routine for my practices. This gives me much more positive reinforcement without any negative reinforcement.
Wind reading is extremely important with a .22 LR rifle. I use a set of smallbore flags to aid my wind calls. The smallbore flags are a must and force you to look at the flags and mirage on each and every shot. If you think the flags at Camp Butner move a lot, try smallbore flags around tall pine trees.
Rimfire Training Is Cost-Effective
Rimfire ammunition is much less costly than centerfire ammo. Though .22 LR prices have risen in recent years (and rimfire ammo is harder to find), even now I can get a 500-round brick of .22 LR ammo for less than $75.00. That works out to fifteen cents a round. That’s a fraction of the cost of handloading .308 Win match ammo. Heck, you can pay 40 cents a piece for match-grade .308-cal centerfire bullets. Then you have to figure in brass, primers, and powder.
My CMP 40X Rimfire F-TR LowBoy Clone
My quest into the .22 LLR rimfire field started with an email from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) announcing Rem 40X stripped barreled actions for sale. I thought, “Hmmm… Could one of those little 40X barreled actions be turned into a F-Class training rifle?” My gunsmith Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool was brought in at this point.
After conferring with Ray, it was decided that he could indeed turn this into a F-Class training rifle. Ray contacted Dave Kiff of PT&G and ordered a new bolt for the Remington 40X rimfire action. Next was the stock decision. I decided to go with a PR&T Low Boy F-Class stock — this is an exact clone of the stock for my .308 Win F-TR competition rifle. Then a Jewell trigger was acquired to complete the components. Ray built this just like he would any custom rifle, other than using the stock barrel. The project turned out awesome. The rifle was a hammer from the beginning even with the stock barrel.
About James Crofts
This spring, James Crofts was chosen as the new Vice Captain for the USA F-TR National Team. James comes from a military background, having served 20 years in the U.S. Navy aboard fast attack submarines. James has also been a shooting member of the 8-man F-TR Team USA, and he is always one of the top shooters in any F-TR competition. James told us: “Now the work begins, but with Ray Gross as Captain I think we can handle it. It will be a tough act to follow. Darrell Buell and Mike Miller set the bar extremely high with back-to-back world championship gold medals.”
James Crofts — Photo by Kent Reeve.
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Like father, like sons. Here’s a “feel-good” story about a father and two young sons. John Dunbar and his sons Brad and Zach attend F-Class matches together. John and Zach shoot, while young Brad helps in the pits and hauls gear for his brother and father. Working together, the Dunbar family has been quite successful in the F-Class game. Father John recently won the Wisconsin State F-Class Championship, while John’s oldest son Zach won the State F-Class Junior Championship that very same weekend.
The double Dunbar victories took place during the 2014 Gillespie Memorial Long Range Individual State Championship held last month at the Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin. The battle for the F-Class (Open Division) Championship was largely a race between two Wisconsin shooters, Bob Sebold and John Dunbar. By the close of the Saturday matches, 2013 defending champion Sebold maintained a five X lead over his rival Dunbar. Both shooters had dropped a mere three points throughout the three match stages at 800, 900, and 1,000 yards.
The first Sunday match narrowed the gap between Sebold and Dunbar, with both shooters dropping two points apiece. Dunbar scored four additional Xs, allowing Sebold to retain the lead by a single X. The final 20-shot, 1,000-yard string determined the weekend’s Grand Aggregate champion. Dunbar scored an incredible 198-14X that clinched the title of Wisconsin State Long Range F-Class Champion.
Zach Dunbar Wins F-Class Junior State Championship
While John Dunbar secured one F-Class title, another, much younger Dunbar also made it to the winner’s circle. John’s oldest son Zach won the State F-Open Junior Championship that very same weekend. Zach had a comeback victory, overcoming a three-point deficit after the first day of shooting.
Youngest son Brad also helped secure the Dunbar family’s twin wins, cheering on family members while ensuring Team Dunbar remained hydrated on the firing line. From pulling targets in the pits to hauling gear across the range, young Brad’s efforts helped Team Dunbar finish first.
The range at Lodi is well-known for challenging wind conditions that are difficult to read. The 2014 Gillespie Memorial match proved to be no exception. Pick-ups and switches occurred with regularity, while mirage occasionally ran opposite to the wind flags lining the range.