I started shooting f-class 3 years ago for additional practice time, and the idea of developing wind reading skills. LR shooting opportunities, and 1000 yard ranges are hard to come by and these matches allow instant feedback with every shot.
For those that are not familiar with f-class a brief tutorial;
F-class matches and Palma matches typically go hand and hand, so if you see a listing for Palma you can be resonably assured that f-class is also shot at the same time.
In a typical match you will shoot at specified distances either 600 yards for the mid-range matches, or 800,900, and 1000 yards for the long range matches.
the course of fire consist of either 15 or 20 shot stings with either 2 sighter shots or unlimited sighters before you shoot your 15 or 20 shot string for record.
Normally 3 people are required per target during a match, and the match officials will "squad" the shooters into groups for each target.
Lets say Bob, Jim and Roy are asigned target one, Bob would shoot first and Jim would be on the line with Bob recording his score(spoting). Roy would be in the pitts, the pitt is a protected area under the target where the person in the pitts lowers and raises the target with each shot. When Bob takes his first shot, Roy would watch the impact burm for the bullets splat. Roy then pulls the target down and puts a colored disc in the bullet hole, and another disc on a coresponding number on the perimiter of the board, that Bob and Jim can see thru there rifle scope and spotting scope. This is when Jim calls out to Bob that bullets score acording to how it is market on the clocked numbers around the target board. Bob can see exactly where his bullet impact landed so as to adjust for the following shot. This continues in rotation until the match is completed. You are required to fire your string of bullets under a rather genourous time limit, usually around 20 minutes.
In f-class the target board is typically 6 feet square, with the x ring equalling 1/2 moa, the 10 ring being 1moa and the 9 ring 2 moa the 8 ring 3 moa ect until you reach the 5 ring at 6 moa.
So in mid range f-class the 10 ring is aprox 6"
In LR f-class the 10 ring is aprox 10"
Most matches will require between 60- 90 rounds to complete, depending on the course of fire. New shooters are always comming to matches and are usually versed in the opperations of the day by experienced shooters who are always willing to help and guide the newbies.
This year the f-class nationals will be held in Lodi WI (sept.), my home town, and I have decided that I would give it my best so have been shooting more matches this year, so far I have shot 3 LR matches and one mid range match. Yesterday was the Memorial day LR match in Lodi we had a south wind varying through-out the day from about 5-15 mph. 24 f-class shooters attended which is very good for this one day match.
The match always starts in Lodi with cannon fire at 8;ooam, raising of the flag and playing of the National Anthem, which on this particullar day, feeling moved by the sacrifices of others, I sang along with the recorded Anthem tract.
After the 800 yard relay I was around the lower half of the pack, shooting a 146 out of 150. 2 of my friends had shot in the 1 st relay with little wind and cleaned the 800 yard course so I was alittle disapointed in my shooting, but I had shot the last or 3 relays at 800 and the wind was blowing by then.
At 900 yards I shot a very good 148 and moved up to 5th place.
When I shot the 1000 yard line I finished with a respectable 145, this left me behind the leaders unless they shot worse than about 143. So i went for my turn in the pitts knowing it was in someone elses hands, and their match to lose.
When the shooting was all over us pitt people cleaned up and stored away the targets so by the time I got back to the stat house, the results were out, before I got up to the board, one of my friends congratulated me on the win.
I had finished with a 439 15x score. It was a very unexpected win, as I don't consider myself as a top compeditor, most matches are a competition with-in myself just to become a better LR shooter/hunter.
However, I have to respectfully disagree as far as f-class for LRH practice. I find it close to useless, except for accuracy and vertical testing. The only shot that has practice value, IMO, is the first sighter. After that... Your either chasing the spotter, running and gunning, or waiting till the 2-4 large flags are pointing the way you want them to, and sending it.
I find this to have almost no real world wind doping value. If you completely ignore the flags, and just use brush, trees, mirage, etc, this value increases. However I still find f-class inefficient, as far as how much you learn per shot. One must shoot in the field, where hills, canyons, rivers, etc affect the wind velocity and direction.
I really enjoy f-class, and have has reasonable success, I don't really put it in the same drawer as LR hunting or practice for LRH.
"Out of range" is a theoretical concept as far as I'm concerned. Send it!
Same general concept, except that instead of Bob shooting, Jim scoring and Roy pulling targets, you'd have Bob and Jim on the line set up with their guns side by side on the same firing point, exchange score cards, and Roy and Frank in the pits pulling the target. The shooter on the right (Bob) shoots, and Jim scores for him when the target comes back up. From the time that the score is accepted, Jim then has roughly 45 seconds in which to shoot - and Bob scores for him. They alternate back and forth like this until both shooters are done.
There is no running the conditions - you have to wait for the other shooter.
There is no 'chasing the spotter', as you have literally no idea where the other shooter was holding on that last shot. Just to make sure, match directors often team F/Open shooters with F/TR shooters.
There is no waiting out a bad condition (unless it lasts less than 45 seconds!) or waiting for your 'preferred' condition to come back around. You have 45 seconds, thats it.
You tend to spend more time looking at the flags, grass, bushes, whatever you can find, that might give you some insight as to what the wind is going to do, during your enforced 'wait' time.
Your sighter shots are 'convertible', meaning if you get an 'X' and a '10' for your sighters, you can choose to take those as your first two record shots and be done with the stage that much faster. Think of it as a reward for having your wind call and elevation dope right the first shot!
Given that you are both on the line together at the same time, a spotting scope for scoring is less of a necessity (ranges around here kind of frown on scoring with a scoped rifle outside of Fullbore).
Match directors for smaller matches tend to score people together - friends, family, etc. so long as the chit-chat doesn't disturb other shooters, making it a more 'social' activity.
Given that you basically have to make a stand-alone wind call for each and every shot... the training value increases dramatically. The first few matches your 'pair fire' scores may be lower than your regular 'string fire' scores - but so will everybody else's. After a couple matches you will be a *much* stronger wind reader.
Interesting... i agree, that would probably increase wind reading over a normal f-class type match.
At least for me, my local 1000yard range, is quite sterile. It it a long rectangular clear cut in a forest with small berms to shoot from, and one large backstop. It is important to know how the lay of the land influences the wind in your projected bullet flight path.
A typical example of LR hunting here in VA: you are set up near the crest of a hill, shooting over a valley onto a cut field on the opposing side. You have wind swirling around the hill you are on, strong overhead winds dropping down into the valley, and a crosswind significantly stronger at the 100ft above the valley floor than what you are reading off a bush down there.
While F-class is better than nothing, one must shoot in a variety of conditions to become proficient, and i feel f-class does not offer that, it is too unnatural of a surrounding.
"Out of range" is a theoretical concept as far as I'm concerned. Send it!