August 30th, 2015

What It Takes to Win: Tips from F-TR Ace Dan Pohlabel

Team Sinclair F-TR interview F-Class Reloading Load Development Training dry-fire

Dan Pohlabel is a member of the all-conquering Team Sinclair F-TR squad. This talented group of shooters hasn’t lost a team match in years. What’s the secret of Team Sinclair’s success? Well there is not one single factor. These guys have very accurate rifles, they work hard on load development, and they practice in all conditions. In this interview, Dan Pohlabel talks about F-TR competition, reviewing the hardware (and skill set) it takes to win. He offers some great tips on developing loads. You’ll find a longer version of this interview on the Sinclair Int’l website. CLICK HERE to Read Full Interview.

Q: What do you find most challenging in F-TR Shooting?
It has to be keeping up with the competition, our sport has grown so quickly with new talented shooters. Staying at the top requires having a laser of a rifle, perfect loads, near perfect wind reading, and, of course, breaking good shots.

Q: How can novice shooters improve their game?
Seek out the local F-TR shooters and go to matches with them, listen and learn. Attend team matches and offer to score for one of the teams. As a scorer, you will sit close enough to hear the coach make wind calls and see the results on the target. Through the spotting scope you will see changes in mirage and it’s the quickest way to learn the basics of wind reading. Choosing and buying equipment is relatively easy, learning to read the wind is a journey.

Q: What’s in your range bag for match days?
Rear bag, towel, shooting glasses, canned air, ear protection, data book, pen, rifle rain cover, hat, rifle tools, timer, ammo, and bug spray.

Q: What specialized gear can you not live without?

1. A good set of elbow pads. It’s hard to keep concentrating on shooting when your elbows are rubbed raw from days of competing on them.

2. Good bug spray. We shoot from the ground but our shooting mats aren’t that big. It’s hard to concentrate with bugs crawling or chewing on you.

Q: Load Development — How do you work up a load?
First, I call Derek Rodgers and get his load data, he is the best load development shooter I know! Otherwise, here is the procedure I recommend. Measure throat length with bullet of your choice, to determine how much room is left in the case. The above measurement determines what powders you can use. We use only Hodgdon Extreme powders. Shoot a ladder test, five rounds each in 0.2 grain increments, to find the accuracy node for that bullet/powder combination. Take the best two loads and do a jump test with five rounds each, test at .005″, .025″, .060″ jump. One of these groups will be significantly better than the rest, now you can tweak that measurement +/- .002” or .005” to get the best accuracy.

Test at least three different primers to determine which offers a little better ignition for your load, a 5-shot test will usually tell you which is the best. Go back and test the two best combinations in a 10-shot test at least twice, pick a cool overcast day and also a hot sunny day and compare results. Take your final “best load” back and do a “simulated match”, 20 shots, waiting at least 20 seconds between shots. If you like those results it’s probably a reliable and accurate load.

Q: What rear bag do you use?
I use a two-bag system, large bag on bottom with a smaller bag on top. I had the bags made of marine canvas, zippered and filled with plastic beads. I can adjust the amount of fill to make them a perfect height for my shooting position. Teammate Jeff Rorer uses a similar system and mine is nearly a copy of his rear bags.

Q: How often do you practice and how many rounds do you shoot per year?
In good weather I practice a couple times a week at the local range, a couple more dry-firing practices/week at home. I typically shoot between 2,000-2,500 rounds per year.

Q: How do you prepare mentally before a match?
[I do] lots of visualization — run the video in my head of what I expect to see and of my performance. I think about the correct strategy for the conditions, staying disciplined to the strategy.

Q: What do you avoid before a shoot?
No late nights or excessive alcohol. Very little caffeine in the morning. Leave your cell turned off. Avoid emotional people.

Q: What’s your procedure on a Match day?
I arrive early, get squadding card, move gear, watch wind speed/direction, check over rifle and gear, sit and relax, visualize and focus on the most important goal of the day. Most days we shoot three relays of 20 shots. It’s important to eat and hydrate continually all day. My focus and concentration are better when I snack all day with fruit and energy bars, and lots of water. While taking my turn in the pits, I try to relax and only focus on what is ahead of me and [not] what’s already happened.

Q: What is your favorite reloading product?
My favorite reloading product is the Sinclair Premium Neck Turning Tool with Handle, I also use the expander mandrels provided by Sinclair for sizing the brass in preparation for the turning process. Correct and repeatable neck tension begins with turning necks to a uniform thickness. Sinclair also has mandrels to size the necks after neck turning that accurately size the necks for a specific neck tension.

Q: What is your preferred scope?
The scope I find the most useful is the Nightforce Competition Scope. This scope is very light-weight, has 15-55X magnification, world-class quality glass, 10 MOA per revolution on the turrets, 1/8 moa adjustments. It’s perfect for F-Class competition.

Q: What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into the sport?
Find a local club with some F-TR shooters and ask for their help. Most shooters will be happy to take you with them to a match, listen and learn while you’re there. You may find out it’s not what you thought, or you may be hooked. If you decide to jump in, start with an inexpensive rifle. This sport is expensive and you don’t need a $5000 rifle to learn good wind-reading skills. Start with a used Savage F-TR rifle and learn the basics, shoot for a year at least before making a larger investment. The money you saved buying a used Savage rifle will help pay for your divorce lawyer, LOL.

Q: What training drills do you use?
Dry-firing the rifle at home is a good way to practice when you can’t get to the range and shoot. It allows me to practice set-up, rifle handling, and position. When I can practice at a local range, I also dry-fire between shots to increase the amount of repetitions and increase the time spent in position.

Q: Who has been your biggest influence in shooting?
Eric Bair, 2006 F-Open National Champion helped me get started and gave me great advice. Most of the shooters on Team USA and Team Sinclair help each other, nobody knows all the answers but we share what we have learned. Danny Biggs, 2008 and 2009 F-TR National Champion also helped me when I was struggling to learn some of the ranges. I learned a lot from Danny.

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August 17th, 2015

Yanks Win Gold at Canadian F-Class Nationals

Canada Canadian F-Class F-TR Championship James Crofts Shiraz Balolia Team USA

The Canadian F-Class Championships took place last week at the Connaught Range outside Ottawa, Ontario. American shooters performed well, taking top honors in both the F-Open and F-TR divisions. In the F-Open class, Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia won his second straight Canadian National Championship (he also won in 2014). This year he was shooting a .300 WSM. The long, heavy .30-Cal bullets offer a ballistic advantage… IF you can handle the additional recoil. Shiraz told us: “This [match] was particularly challenging and satisfying as there were some incredible shooters from around the world including two World Champions, three U.S. National Champions, Canadian National Champions, British Champions, and European Champions shooting alongside me. It was an honor to shoot alongside the best shooters in the world.”

A large number of American shooters ventured to Ontario for the Canadian F-Class Championships.
Canada Canadian F-Class F-TR Championship James Crofts Shiraz Balolia Team USA

James Crofts shot consistently to win the F-TR division, and Paul Phillips finished second. Of Jim, the “man to beat” in F-TR, fellow competitor Tom Hittle said: “Congratulations to James Crofts for the overall win in TR. It was well deserved. Thank you for all the guidance and tips over the last couple of years.” After the match, James told us: “I want to thank a few companies that helped me get where I am. BRUX Barrels — I have now won three Nationals with Brux barrels. Jim Borden from Borden Actions — your action was smooth and precise. And Ray Bowman (PR&T) who, hands down, builds the best rifles available. I have used two different PR&T rifles to win U.S. F-TR Nationals. Proof is with the gold medals.”

In Team competition, a “dark horse” squad from North Carolina pulled off a real upset, taking Gold for the 4-man team event. The “Team NC” boys (James Hittle, Tom Hittle, Ed Shelley, and Greg Denekamp), benefited from good wind-calling by the Hittles plus some very accurate rifles. Tom Hittle remarked: “Ray Bowman of PR&T rifles were used by each team member. Thank you Ray for incredible-shooting hammers.”

Canada Canadian F-Class F-TR Championship James Crofts Shiraz Balolia Team USA

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August 9th, 2015

World Fullbore Rifle Championships Commence at Camp Perry

Palma Target Rifle F-TR World Championships Camp Perry .308 Winchester Sherry Jo Gallagher

The Fullbore (Target Rifle) World Championships are now underway at Camp Perry. Held every four years (like the Olympics), the ICFRA World Target Rifle (Fullbore) Championships event is quite possibly the most important long-range rifle competition on the planet. This year the World Championships take place in the USA, at Camp Perry, Ohio. Teams from 11 countries are competing. Here we have some early reports from the August 8th Opening Ceremony…


Report by Ray Gross, Captain U.S. F-TR Team, 8 August, 2015
The U.S. Army Golden Knights parachuted in as part of the opening ceremony for the World Long Range Championships being held at Camp Perry, Ohio. Three of our sister teams, the U.S. Palma Team, the U.S. Veterans Team and the U.S. Under-25 Team will be competing against teams from around the world. Several members of our team, Ray Gross, Steve Hardin, Bryan Litz, and Lane Buxton, are part of the U.S. Palma Team.

CLICK HERE for more reports from U.S. F-TR Rifle Team Blog

Palma Target Rifle F-TR World Championships Camp Perry .308 Winchester Sherry Jo Gallagher

The format is very similar to our own World Championships. Everyone entered in the Individuals will shoot 15 shoots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards and they will complete that course of fire three times over the next several days. The team event fires the same course twice.

The main difference from our style of shooting is that they will compete using aperture-type target sights and will be using an arm sling as support compared to the scopes and bipods that we use. The rings on our target are substantially tighter to account for the the greater stability and accuracy of the type of rifles that we use.


Report from Anette Wachter (aka 30CalGal), 8 August 2015
Day One of the World Long Range Championships — we had Opening Ceremonies this morning which had our U.S. Army Golden Knights jumping in and the flag raising of each participating country. Sherri Gallagher, former USAMU shooter and now a Golden Knight, led the team as the first and solo jumper. I was sort of hoping she would land in the prone position with a rifle and start the competition. The rest of the Knights fell from the sky and landed perfectly on the X.

CLICK HERE for more reports from 30CalGal.com

Palma Target Rifle F-TR World Championships Camp Perry .308 Winchester Sherry Jo Gallagher

The U.S. Fullbore Nationals consisted of individuals and various team events as well as the biggest event, the America’s Match. The USA has never lost the America’s Match at home. We won it three years ago here at Perry and last summer up in Canada. Yesterday was not in the cards. First let me congratulate Great Britain for some outstanding shooting. They lost a total of 17 points for 8 shooters all day and took the Gold. Australia came in second, South Africa 3rd and the USA in 4th. Very humbling yes. One of our coaches had to leave at the middle of the match for a family emergency as well. So I believe the kinks are done and we can move on successfully for this coming week of Worlds. We have the best shooters in the U.S. on our team. Things will turn around. Three women were in the top 25 of the Fullbore Nationals: Michelle Gallagher, Trudie Fay, and Jane Messer. Our Veterans and Under 25s had their World Championship team events as well. Our Veterans took the Gold and the USA Under 25s took the Bronze. The GB kids shot very well and received Gold and Silver medals.

Click HERE for Full-Bore Nationals Results

Palma Target Rifle F-TR World Championships Camp Perry .308 Winchester Sherry Jo Gallagher

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July 27th, 2015

Eliseo F1 F-Class Chassis System Enters Production

Gary Eliseo Competition Machine F1 F-Open F-Class F-TR Chassis

The new F1 Chassis System from Competition Machine is now in production. This straight-line, all-metal chassis with ultra-low bore axis is optimized for F-Class competition. Designer/builder Gary Eliseo tell us that Competition Machine is now accepting F1 Chassis orders for fall 2015 delivery. To order or if you have questions, email Gary via his website contact page.

Gary tells us: “The new F1 Chassis System, designed specifically for F-Open class, has already begun to rack up awards. The system has several innovations that make it an excellent choice for your next build.” F1 Chassis has many design features that improve tracking and tame torque effect:

Low COG — Super low rider fore-end keeps the center of gravity as low as possible

Long Wheelbase — The long separation from front of stock to rear bag-rider improves tracking and reduces the tendency to jump or twist (torque).

Adjustable Offset — The bag-rider section of the fore-end can be adjusted left to right. This adjustable horizontal offset allows you to choose if you want the fore-end offset left, right or center.

Adaptable to All Shooters — The F1 Chassis System features adjustable length of pull, buttplate drop, and cheekpiece height.

Gary Eliseo Competition Machine F1 F-Open F-Class F-TR Chassis

Unique Bonded Barrel Block™ System
Stress is the enemy of accuracy. For this reason the F1 Chassis system features a “zero stress” barrel mounting system which uses a barrel block securely bonded to the barrel (with an epoxy-type adhesive). This allows the action to float, relieving all stress from the threaded joint between the barrel and action and all flexing of the action. With this unique “floating action” design, the F1 chassis is compatible with ANY round rifle action. Replacement barrel blocks are available so you can run multiple barreled actions with your F1 chassis. When it’s time to replace the barrel, the barrel block can be “unbonded” and adapted to a new, same-diameter barrel.

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July 11th, 2015

Where to Shoot F-Class — 100+ “F-Friendly” Ranges in the USA

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

F-Class shooting (both F-Open and F-TR) is one of the fastest-growing forms of rifle competition. Each season many new shooters hit the line and attendance at the big matches increases every year. But if you’re new to the game, you may ask “Where can I shoot an F-Class match?”. Well, Forum member Rod V. (aka Nodak7mm) has compiled a useful list of 109 ranges around the USA where F-Class matches are held (plus 6 “possibles”). With venues from Alabama to Wyoming — you should find an F-Class program not too far from home. The list, in Excel spreadsheet format, provides range locations and weblinks (where available). Click the link below to download the F-Class Range List (.xls file):

Download F-Class Range List, Revision 19 (12/30/2014) (.XLS file, right click to “save as”)

Note — this list, now in its 19th Revision, is augmented regularly, but info is still being gathered. No claim is made that the list is comprehensive. But it still covers the the lion’s share of the important F-Class venues nationwide. If you know of a range that should be added to the list, please post the location on our F-Class Range List Forum thread. Rod will update the list as new range info is received. Rod writes: “Range information is wanted and welcomed. I would like your help on collecting specific info on Clubs/Ranges where known F-Class matches are held.” Here’s a partial sample from Rod’s list:

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

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June 30th, 2015

Yanks Win Creedmoor Cup Match in Ireland

2015 Creedmoor Cup F-Open F-Class Tullamore Dublin Ireland 2015 1875

Way to go Team USA! The American F-Class squad won the prestigious Creedmoor Cup competition held June 28-29 at the Midlands National Shooting Centre in Tullamore, Ireland. This is a competition with a rich history, going back to the original Challenge Match in 1874 between American and Irish Teams in Creedmoor, New York. (Read Match History)

2015 Creedmoor Cup F-Open F-Class Tullamore Dublin Ireland 2015 1875
Photo by Matthew Schwartzkopf.

Phil Kelley wrote: “I never knew when planning for this trip the wonderful history that is the Creedmoor Cup, Ireland and U.S. rifle competition, and the hunger of the Irish for freedom. It is one of many things that has made this trip so enjoyable. J.P. Craven [opened] the Creedmoor competition with John Sigler, previous President of the NRA. John had the honor of the first shot with a rifle used to help gain Irish independence. The Irish, like Americans, have a rich history that ties the rifle and independence together. It has been an honor to be part of this event, with each and every individual that is part of it.”

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June 27th, 2015

New F-TR Stock from McMillan

McMillan Fiberglass Stock F-Class F/tr F-TR Derek Rodgers Sinclair

McMillan has developed a new stock for F-TR competition. The front half is like a prone stock while the rear section has a straight underside (toe) section for smooth tracking in the rear bag. This stock appears to be designed for hard-holding, with a vertical grip and a fairly tall adjustable cheekpiece. The stock weighs just five pounds complete with adjusting hardware, so F-TR rigs built with this new stock should “make weight” easily. (The F-TR limit is 8.25kg or 18.188 pounds including bipod.)

Paul Phillips of Team Sinclair revealed the new McMillan stock on his Facebook page. Paul reports: “McMillan has been a leader in the industry for 40 years. I can’t thank the McMillan family enough for all they have done for our Military, Law Enforcement and Competitive shooting communities. Kelly McMillan and Team Sinclair worked together on what stock profile and features would be the best for FTR competition and this is what came out of the oven. Kelly also came up with some strong, super-light hardware that put the entire weight of the finished stock after bedding at 5 pounds even.

After Alex Sitman from Masterclass Stocks bedded my new stock, he told me that this new stock design is a true work of art and will fill a huge void in F-TR. Derek Rodgers set the current 1000-Yard F-TR record, 200-12X, with a McMillan prone-style stock. Team Sinclair holds the current 1000-Yard Team Record, 792-38X, and McMillan also contributed to that. McMillan [helps sponsor] the USA F-TR Team and Team Sinclair. Team USA will also be using these stocks in the upcoming 2017 World Championships hosted in Ottawa, Canada.”

Making Weight in F-TR — Every Ounce Counts

One Facebook reader asked why the new F-TR stock was so light. Here is Paul’s response:

Question: Paul, 5 pounds seems a little light. My Anschutz [stock] is heavier. Wouldn’t you want a heavier stock for stability, particularly for long range shooting?

Answer: It’s a fine line making an 18.18-pound weight limit. We need longer barrels to get the velocity to push 185- and 200-grain bullets. We also have a scope and bipod that add weight. It’s a balancing act. As I mentioned before, the current National record is with the same weight McMillan prone stock, just different profile. It works.

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May 29th, 2015

Getting Started in F-Class Competition (F-TR and F-Open)

Vince Bottomley Target Shooter F-Class F-Open F-TR

Our friend Vince Bottomley in the UK has written an excellent article for Target Shooter Magazine. Vince offers “solid-gold” advice for new F-TR and F-Open shooters. Vince reviews the cartridge options, and offers suggestions for a shooter’s first (and hopefully affordable) F-Class rifle. Vince also reviews various bipod choices for F-TR and discusses optics options (from $300 to $3000).

Here’s a short sample from the Target Shooter Magazine article:

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May 22nd, 2015

Buell’s Baby: First-Ever Counter-Balanced JoyStick Bipod

Bipod F-Class F-TR Sebastian Lambang PodPad Joystick Joypod

Here’s something you’ve never seen before, a joy-stick (coaxial) bipod with a front counter-weight. This one-of-a-kind “JoyPod” was produced by Seb Lambang for our friend Darrell Buell. With a very porky ultra-long-range rifle to support, Darrell needed a JoyPod that wouldn’t sink under a heavy load.

Seb explains: “This is the world’s first Joypod equipped w/ an adjustable counterweight, to balance his 75-lb gun. I did some experiments and put some weights ranging up to 60+ lbs on the top, and I found that the joystick action works like a regular one….it’s smooth, light, and precise. In addition, the counterweight can be bent down to not interfere with the bottom of the barrel. I would guess Darrell would only need one ‘ring’ for his 75-lb gun. He can move the ring back and forth to find the best balance. Once the gun is on the bipod, it would only take a few minutes to tune or find the balance. The counterweight is secured into the front center shaft by a thumb screw, and there is a tightly fitted pivotal joint on the counterweight to allow angle adjustment.”

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May 18th, 2015

New F-Class Stock from Fox Firearms UK

Brian Fox Stock F-TR F-Class convertible UK

Here’s a cleverly-designed convertible F-Class stock that can be used for either F-TR competition (with bipod) or for F-Open shooting (with front sled). Designed by Brian Fox of Fox Fireams UK, this all-new design features a barrel block, allowing a variety of actions to be used. The “Fox Stock” weighs just 5.7 pounds. This allows the F-TR version to easily make weight with competition bipod and a large scope. Our friend Vince Bottomley from the UK offers this report.

Fox F-Class Stock for F-TR and F-Open
by Vince Bottomley
Brian Fox’s new stock can be used for either F-TR with bipod (EVO bipod shown in photos) or for F-Open with front bag-rider attached via the full-length accessory rail on the underside. The bag-rider is machined from high-grade plastic and is three inches wide to suit most front rests.

Brian Fox Stock F-TR F-Class convertible UK

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April 1st, 2015

F-Class News: NRA Introduces New F-TRipod Classification

NRA F-Class F-TR Tripod

F-Class shooting is the fastest-growing form of NRA rifle competition. While sling-shooting is in decline, the number of F-Class shooters grows every year. Recognizing this, the NRA Competitive Shooting Division has decided to expand the sport of F-Class with a new, third classification: F-TRipod. Like the current F-TR class, F-TRipod will be limited to .223 Remington or .308 Winchester chamberings. However, the rifle support can have three legs, and the weight of the tripod will NOT count in the rifle’s overall weight limit, which will be the same as F-TR, (8.25kg or 18.18 pounds). That way all current F-TR shooters will automatically “make weight” in the new F-TRipod class.

Three-legged shooting platforms can be adapted from photo tripods using a variety of mounts.
NRA F-Class F-TR Tripod

Why did the NRA create a new division for F-Class? According to Ryan Tromper of the NRA’s High Power Committee, “It’s all about improving the competitor’s experience. This new class should make the sport more popular among shooters of all ages and all levels of physical ability.” Ryan noted that many current F-Class shooters are not happy shooting on the ground: “At the 2014 F-Class Nationals in Phoenix, we polled F-Class shooters. The number one complaint was the shooting position. We heard many comments such as ‘I’m getting too old for this, I just can’t stay comfortable for a whole match anymore'”. After hearing many complaints about “eating dust all day on the ground”, the NRA realized there was a problem. F-TRipod is the solution.

The addition of the F-TRipod division should make F-Class competition more accessible for older competitors and for the many “weight-challenged” Americans who have difficulty getting down into the prone position. “We want F-Class to be inclusive. No matter what your age, your size, your shape, or your weight, we want you to be able to shoot F-Class and enjoy the experience”, said Tromper. This should make a big difference to shooters who have limited mobility.

With the advent of F-TRipod competition, shooters will no longer have to spend all day long on their belly in the dirt. Instead they can shoot from a comfortable seated position. F-TRipod competitors will be allowed to sit on the ground or in a portable chair.

NRA F-Class F-TR Tripod

F-TRipod Competition Should Be More Affordable
Affordability was another key factor in the NRA’s decision to create a new F-TRipod classification. As Derek Rodgers, the only man to win both F-TR and F-Open national titles, explains: “Let’s face it, F-Open has evolved into a hardware race. A complete F-Open rest set-up, with coaxial front rest, pad, and a couple custom rear bags, can run close to $1500.00. That’s not affordable for a lot of guys.” With the new F-TRipod division, all you need is a photo tripod and some kind of support head. With a used eBay tripod, and the $135.00 Pig Saddle, the whole system can be assembled for under $200.00. That’s half the cost of today’s most exotic F-TR bipods. Other than the tripod (with cradle) the only other accessory an F-TRipod competitor needs is a cushion for his or her posterior. (NRA rules will allow competitors to use cushions or camp chairs).

Favored by PRS competitors (and military snipers), tripods will soon be seen at F-Class matches as well. In the video below, the 6.5 Guys review various F-TRipod options.

Both current F-Class disciplines, F-Open and F-TR, are shot from the ground. Though rifle supports are permitted, this is essentially prone shooting (on your belly), and for many shooters, this is uncomfortable. Below, AccurateShooter’s Jason Baney demonstrates a modern rifle tripod system with a double cradle upper.

NRA F-Class F-TR Tripod

NRA F-Class Rifle Rules
3. EQUIPMENT AND AMMUNITION
3.4 F-Class Rifle
(c) F-Class Tripod Rifle (F-TRipod)
– A rifle restricted to the chambers of unmodified .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO or unmodified .223 Remington/5.56mm x 45 NATO cartridge cases. The rifle must be fired off a tripod, on which the rifle rests, or to which the rifle is attached. Any three-legged support, meeting the definition of a tripod, may be used but the tripod may not weigh more than 10 kilograms (approximately 22 pounds) and it may not contain any powered adjustment mechanisms or leveling systems. The tripod support may employ rigid or sliding mounts or cradles and manually-adjustable tilting heads are allowed. Any safe, manually-operated trigger is permitted. Any sighting system is permitted, but it must be included in the rifle’s overall weight.
(1) The rifle’s overall weight, including all attachments such as sights, sling, and rail(s), must not exceed 8.25 kilograms (approximately 18 pounds). The tripod and any mount or cradle permanently affixed to the tripod are not considered “attachments” if they can be separated from the rifle after the shooting sequence.
(2) The rifle must be fired in the seated or kneeling position from the shoulder of the competitor using rifle as defined in 3.4.1(b).

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March 17th, 2015

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

The folks at F-TR Ireland send greetings from the Emerald Isle: “Wishing all our friends and fellow-shooters at home in Ireland and around the globe all the very best. Beannachtai na Féile Phádraig! (That means ‘St. Patrick’s Day Blessing’.) Hope you all have a great St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy the festivities wherever you may be, whether be you Irish by birth, heritage, or aspiration!”

Ireland F-TR St. Patrick's Day March 17

Irish Rifle (Crafted by Enda Walsh of Custom and Precision Rifles Ireland)
Ireland Gun Stocks

Irish Shooting Range (National Shooting Center, Tullamore, Ireland)
Tullamore Range Ireland Rick Jensen F-Class

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February 15th, 2015

U.S. Team Blue Wins F-TR Title at Berger SW Nationals

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.

F-TR Blue Berger SW Nationals

U.S. F-TR Team matt schwartkopf ray gross

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.

matt schwartzkopf

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January 22nd, 2015

Savage F-TR Rifle Review from Target Shooter Magazine

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.

Target Shooter Savage F-TR Chris Parkin UK

CLICK HERE to Read Savage F-TR Rifle Review

CLICK HERE to Download Savage F-TR Review as PDF File

Target Shooter Savage F-TR Chris Parkin UK

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January 19th, 2015

F-TR Top Guns Share Their Secrets

F-TR Stan Pate SavageOver 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.

Mike Miller Stan Pate F-TR F-T/R

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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January 6th, 2015

The Eyes Have It — Reduced 300-Yard F-Class Targets

NRA Target Printable target Center 300yd 300 yard AccurateShooterIt’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.)

F-Class Reduced Target Centers
CLICK HERE to Download F-Class 300-yard Target Centers (.Zip archive with three targets)

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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December 9th, 2014

Champ ‘Feels the Joy’ — Shoots 200-9X at 1K with Joy-Pod

James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-classThis 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:
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and yes that’s a Savage action in this rig!
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

Note the grippy suede base-pad under the Edgewood rear bag, which features low-friction ear material.
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

USA F-TR National Champion James Crofts.
James Crofts FTR F-class joy-pod joystick F-TR SEB
Photo by Kent Reeve.

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November 1st, 2014

Top Teams Smash Records at F-Class Nationals

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.
F-Class National Championship team F-TR Phoenix

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.

F-Class National Championship team F-TR Phoenix

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.”

F-Class National Championship team F-TR Phoenix

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October 29th, 2014

Derek Rodgers Sets New 1000-Yard National F-TR Record

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.

derek rogers record

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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October 14th, 2014

Shooting a Tubegun in F-Class — German Salazar Talks Equipment

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.

German Salazar F-Class TubegunA 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.

READ Tubegun in F-Class Part 1
READ Tubegun in F-Class Part 2
READ Tubegun in F-Class Part 3

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.

German Salazar F-Class Tubegun

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…

READ MORE of Part 1, The Tubegun in F-Class

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