F-Class is a discipline formed by a Canadian shooter George Farquharson. F-Class itself is divided into F/TR and F-Open.
F/TR is shot off a bipod and rear bag. Cartridges are limited to.223Remington and .308Winchester. There is a weight restriction of 8.25kg (which includes anything attached to the rifle). F-Open is shot off a front rest and rear bag. The only cartridge restriction in F-Open is that the maximum calibre is 8mm. There is a 10kg max for F-Open which excludes the front rest but includes anything else attached to the rifle.
The biggest challenge people find with F-Class is usually learning to ‘READ THE WIND’. This is made all the more difficult by the very tight targets used. It is quite the experience watching an international wind coach making calls whether it being for TR or F-Class. It seems to be a skill there are no shortcuts for learning, and simply comes with hours spent on the range (how many hours an individual needs may vary). It also seems that no matter how many hours are spent on the range there are still days that can throw even the most experienced shooters, it’s a skill you are never quite finished learning.
F-Class is shot at targets of the following dimensions: (Taken from ICFRA rules).
F/TR rifles generally use a single shot only target action, you commonly see Barnard S actions, Nesika, Victrix and RPA here in the UK but there are countless other custom actions used. Barrels are generally 30-32” with a range of twist rates depending on the bullet weight, manufacturers include Bartlein, Benchmark, Krieger and GB. With scopes there is no restriction on magnification and the firing point is largely dominated by March, Nightforce and Sightron. Bipods used vary massively but Dolphin Gun Company, Third Eye Tactical and SEB make the three that you are more likely to see at any league match here in Britain. Rear bags you tend to see are from Edgewood, Protektor and SEB.
In F-Open, actions are also usually single shot but they also often need to accommodate magnum cartridges. You will see more Barnard Ps and BAT actions in F-Open as well as the ones found in F/TR. Barrels is pretty much the same affair as with F/TR but you see more barrel tuners being used in F-Open. Scopes don’t really differ from F/TR, nor do rear bags. In F-Open you do use front rests, these are made by companies such as SEB, Bald Eagle, Farley and Dolphin Gun Company.
Ammunition can be bought or home loaded however to be competitive you would most likely want to develop your own load. This will allow you to push your bullets faster to enhance ballistic performance in wind, give you tighter elevations at range by tuning a load to your barrel and improving consistency round to round. The net effect of all this being you increase your scores, so ultimately well worth the seemingly endless tinkering (or that’s what we tell ourselves). Also the last thing you want to worry about on a windy day is losing points to elevation on the very tight targets used in F-Class.
Above is a typical F/TR rifle. This particular rifle was built by Dolphin Gun Company. A very well proven system and one used by many top GB shooters. You can see a SEB bipod and Edgewood rear bag. The action is a Barnard S and the barrel is from Bartlein. The scope is a 2013 Nightforce Competition 15-55×52.
Meetings and Competitions
Lots of clubs will have F-Class shoots of one sort or another, a lot of the time its used to refer to shooting with any supported rifle and a scope. However some clubs like the Dorset Riflemen and the 101 Club at Altar run brilliant shoots much more like actual League matches. The North London is currently building an F-Class program, including great training courses for those wishing to build their confidence within the discipline. League Shoots run from around March to November and are fantastic competitions for people of all abilities, these are currently shot at Bisley and Diggle. There is the Imperial in July which is growing in popularity with F-Class shooters. The European Championships are shot at Bisley every year and is truly one of the finest shooting events you could hope to attend. People from all over Europe and beyond make the pilgrimage to Bisley to compete, with visitors from New Zealand, Australia and America taking part too!
There are a number of ways to get involved. Firstly you will need to join a club that shoots fullbore, preferably at Diggle, Altcar or Bisley but if not than one that shoots to at least 500 yards regularly. Then once you have your rifle and kit you can do a training course, both the GBFCA and the North London Rifle Club run excellent courses and you cant go wrong with either. The NLRC runs more focussed sessions throughout the year and you will have the opportunity for more 1 on 1 instruction. The NLRC also runs a dedicated and very comprehensive reloading course for F-Class which will help you get the most out of your rifle. The GBFCA usually runs a course in February which has larger numbers and is mainly supported by GB shooters so is a great chance to pick the brains of some top shooters. You would benefit massively if you do both if at all possible as they both carry significant value. If you are less confident it may be worth doing the NLRC course first as its a very gentle introduction to the discipline. It doesn’t look as if the NRA themselves are running any F-Class courses currently but the two mentioned above are all you will ever need.
If you are planning on shooting F-Class, hopefully this was somewhat helpful and we will see you on the ranges in the future.
This article was kindly written by James Mccosh. For further information about F-class shooting with the English Twenty Club, please contact the F-class discipline representative on firstname.lastname@example.org