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Thread: F-Class Equipment? Where to Shoot?

  1. #1
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    F-Class Equipment? Where to Shoot?

    Having spent a bit of time shooting longer ranges this last summer, I have found short range BR competition to be less interesting and more artificial feeling than I expected it to be. I find shooting from a bench rather boring. As a result I now have a fine rifle and rest setup that just sits in my gun safe as I take my varmint rifles out to the woods to shoot targets of opportunity at unknown distances.

    Just today while researching a left handed rifle described in an Accurate Shooter article, I discovered F-Class competition. The fact that you can use a BR setup, while shooting prone in F Class competition has me wondering if my current equipment could work in F Class. I know my BAT action rifle could be converted to an appropriate long range cartridge by simply replacing the barrel and bolt. My front rest is an SEB Neo. I have a heavy rear bag. I have several decent scopes, though I would probably sell a couple of them if needed to buy a Nightforce or other similar quality scope.

    So, other than changing cartridges, is there anything else I need to change for F-Class shooting? Also, I live near Seattle, so how far will I need to drive to attend an F-Class shoot?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Central Arkansas
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    F-Class equipment

    I have shot F-Class since it was approved by the NRA. I have found that in addition to your rifle, you will need:

    Matt to lay on.

    Spotting scope and stand that lays next to your gun that allows you to use it while laying down

    A stool to sit on between relays and while spotting/scoring.

    A good shooting hat with side flaps to block out the sun early and late.

    A good quality variable rifle scope (allows you to reduce the power when mirage is strong)

    Very accurate rifle/ammo combination as the X-rings are only 1/2 MOA.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2015
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    Depending on your existing equipment, you might just need an old blanket. F/TR is restricted to .308 and .223 and you must shoot from a bipod. Open is anything less than .35 caliber (I believe) and you're allowed to use a front rest. Some calibers are better than others and some which work OK at 600 yards won't work well enough at 1000 yards, so if you're shooting at 600 yds, chances are you don't really need to change anything to start with. There is a good chance that something you already own will be OK, at least for the first competitions. You can then look around at the other equipment on the firing line and see what the other folks in your area are using.

    What are you using at the moment?

    Perhaps your existing gear will be more effective if you develop a load for heavier bullets than you've been using for short range BR shooting. Good BC counts and you want your bullet to be well supersonic when it reaches the target.

    But you don't need extreme accuracy. Plenty of ordinary bolt guns can be made to shoot .500 MOA most of the time. Of course, more accuracy is always welcome, but it's not the most important thing in F Class. A 1/2 MOA gun will be more than sufficient to start with because you will quickly learn that the key to F Class is being able to read the wind.

    One more thing. Did I mention that reading the wind is very important?

    Finally, be sure to remember that reading the wind is a skill that you should try to learn.

  4. #4
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    Mozella and Travelor,

    Thanks for the information. It confirms what I have read on other sites. I have most of what you say I would need. I have a 1/4 MOA, BAT action bench gun. It is set up for short range BR. The bolt face is .223 but the barrel is a slow 1:12 twist chambered in 222 Rem. I assume I would need to replace the entire barrel with one chambered in .223 Rem with a 1:9 twist if I am going to shoot heavy enough bullets to reach out to 1000 yards. I also have a SEB NEO rest, and a protector rear bag. I have a Vortex spotting scope and load with an arbor press and associated loading gear. Most of my gear I got from my neighbor Russ Haydon. He also built my BAT rifle for me. On AccurateShooter.com, I saw pictures of F-Class shooters using rifles, front rests and bags very similar to what I have. IFrom what you say, it appears as though the only expensive thing I would need to buy is a high quality variable power scope to replace what I use for short range. I have a few decent variable power Nikons on my field guns but they are in the 6X-18X range.

    I have never actually shot a rifle prone, so it would be a whole new experience for me. I have also never shot farther than 550 yards. I am not an expert. I only started shooting seven years ago, as something to get me out of the house. I do not have a trophy room. I enjoy new activities and have found short range centerfire BR to be a bit boring, without ever actually competing other than with friends. I cannot say why for sure. Once I found consistent 1/4 MOA loads, I just lost interest. As I said, the rifle just sits in my gun safe, while I take my other rifles out to the woods. I think it is sitting bent over on a bench that bores me. It seems so artificial. So I am looking for a reason to not sell my BAT rifle.

    Reading the wind at 1000 yards looks to be a real challenge. I doubt that I would ever get really good at that before I get really old, so It could never bore me.

    Here is my BAT rifle, when I first bought it. Since then, I removed the huge butt pad as unneeded. The scope is a Weaver T-36 that I already replaced with an XR T-36. A disability of mine makes side focus a necessity:


    I live near Seattle. I wonder how far I would need to drive to locate an F-Class competition. I am not fond of long range driving.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2015
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slowshot View Post
    ......... snip .............. I assume I would need to replace the entire barrel with one chambered in .223 Rem with a 1:9 twist if I am going to shoot heavy enough bullets to reach out to 1000 yards. ........ snip ..............
    Sorry, but 1:9 isn't really going to get you where you want to be in F/TR. If you're going to shoot in F/TR I would recommend a 1:7 twist barrel so that you can shoot 90gr VLD Bergers, if you can find them; SMK 90s if you can't or perhaps one of the easier-to-find bullets around 80gr. You wont' be able to be very competitive with a 1:9 twist. If you already owned it, you could give it a try, but it makes no sense to buy a new 1:9 twist for F/TR.

    My new .223 which is waiting for the hydro dip guys to finish is 1:7. My current .223 is 1:9 and it really isn't competitive at 600 yards and at 1000 yards it isn't even close 'cause it really won't stabilize heavy enough bullets like a 1:7 barrel will.

    Personally, if the only F class competition I had available was at 1000 yards, I'm not sure I'd use a .223 at all; six hundred yards yes, but 1000 is a bit of a stretch for .223 even though some folks will surely disagree.

    One possibility would be to buy a 6MM barrel and bolt face. I don't know if that's easy with your action, but it's what I did with one of my Savages. I shoot 6mm BR Norma in F Class Open. Ordinary 6mm BR Norma is not currently the absolutely best 6mm option, but it isn't bad, it has low recoil, is easy to load, and easy to tune. You might consider one of the 6mm variants to get a little more Moxie downrange, especially if you will be shooting at 1000 Yards. Six MM is a lot easier to tune and shoot than .223, but there is something I like about F/TR; low recoil being one of the advantages. That's also why I like 6mm. If you aren't wedded to .223, consider 6mm or, depending on what viable options you have with your particular action, one of the other calibers. But if you decide to go .223, seriously consider a 1:7 twist barrel.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mozella View Post
    One possibility would be to buy a 6MM barrel and bolt face. I don't know if that's easy with your action, but it's what I did with one of my Savages. I shoot 6mm BR Norma in F Class Open. Ordinary 6mm BR Norma is not currently the absolutely best 6mm option, but it isn't bad, it has low recoil, is easy to load, and easy to tune. You might consider one of the 6mm variants to get a little more Moxie downrange, especially if you will be shooting at 1000 Yards. Six MM is a lot easier to tune and shoot than .223, but there is something I like about F/TR; low recoil being one of the advantages. That's also why I like 6mm. If you aren't wedded to .223, consider 6mm or, depending on what viable options you have with your particular action, one of the other calibers. But if you decide to go .223, seriously consider a 1:7 twist barrel.

    Bummer!

    I recently contacted BAT Machine about buying a different bolt for my BAT action. With only a bolt and barrel, I can convert the rifle to just about any cartridge. I was thinking of converting it to 6 BR. The cost for just a bolt was...well pricy. Add the cost of a chambered competition quality barrel and there goes a grand, just like that.

  7. #7
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    If you're in the Seattle area, check out the Whatcom County range up near Bellingham. They have the Washington State Rifle & Pistol Association (WSRPA) state 300yd championship there every spring. I haven't kept track lately, but there have been a few national records set there. It is a *very* protected (from the wind) range; your existing gear will work just fine for that distance.

    There are several other 500-600yd ranges up and down the I-5 corridor; the two closest 1000yd ranges are Douglas Ridge (outside Portland) and Rattlesnake (just north of the Tri-Cities). Of the two, I'd probably recommend Doug Ridge to 'pop your cherry' for 1000yds. The winds there are tricky, but very rarely enough to blow you off the paper. Rattlesnake... is a bit more challenging most days

    I am over in Wenatchee, but know a few people on your side of the mountains who can probably help you get started. Or PM me and we can talk. I've done this enough that I can probably answer most of your questions, or point you in the right direction if I don't.

    Monte Milanuk
    Team Savage F/TR

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by milanuk View Post
    If you're in the Seattle area, check out the Whatcom County range up near Bellingham. They have the Washington State Rifle & Pistol Association (WSRPA) state 300yd championship there every spring. I haven't kept track lately, but there have been a few national records set there. It is a *very* protected (from the wind) range; your existing gear will work just fine for that distance.

    There are several other 500-600yd ranges up and down the I-5 corridor; the two closest 1000yd ranges are Douglas Ridge (outside Portland) and Rattlesnake (just north of the Tri-Cities). Of the two, I'd probably recommend Doug Ridge to 'pop your cherry' for 1000yds. The winds there are tricky, but very rarely enough to blow you off the paper. Rattlesnake... is a bit more challenging most days

    I am over in Wenatchee, but know a few people on your side of the mountains who can probably help you get started. Or PM me and we can talk. I've done this enough that I can probably answer most of your questions, or point you in the right direction if I don't.

    Monte Milanuk
    Team Savage F/TR
    Monte,
    Thanks for the information. I shoot at TRRC here in Tacoma. I say near Seattle because nobody ever heard of Tacoma. When the US Open was held at Chambers Bay, within a mile of TRRC, the news kept saying it was in Seattle.

    There are many different styles of matches here every spring and summer but I have never heard of an F- Class shoot here. In fact I just became aware of F Class a couple of days ago. We even have 600 yards available during long range matches but no practice range of that length. The closest I have for practicing at 500-600 yards are Upper Nisqually in Eatonville and Paul Bunyan between Puyallup and Graham. They are both close enough for a drive. I will have to check and see if they hold any F-Class competitions. I have a group of friends who get together once a month for a "Varmint Shooters Guy's Night Out". Russ Haydon introduced me to the group a year ago or so. I will ask about F-Class at the next gathering.

    Shooting at 600 yards should be more than enough of a challenge for me at my skill level. Several friends have suggested I try Paul Bunyan. It may be a bit late this year as it is getting pretty windy, wet and cold. We had 60 mph gusts yesterday and an inch and a half of rain. Rather difficult to read that level of wind gusts. Now the temps are dropping to near freezing at night. I find I am getting a bit old for playing outside in that kind of weather.
    Last edited by Slowshot; 11-19-2015 at 06:00 PM.

  9. #9
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    For NRA type matches, the WSRPA is the sanctioning body and keeps a state-wide schedule of events... smallbore, pistol, sling, F-class, etc.

    http://www.wsrpa.net/wsrpa/highpower

    Used to be that Machias (near Lake Stevens) was the place to go on the we(s)t side... 500yd range, covered firing line with wood stoves, had matches year round. Good place to go get a no-wind zero (relative to Wenatchee / Tri-Cities, anyway)

  10. #10
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    There is a match at Machias (500Y) next month (Dec. 12 I think) and Plantation (300 yard range that Monte mentioned) should be starting up in Jan. with 300 yard matches. Both are good places to shoot (well protected) and good places to get to know the local F-Class shooters.

    Paul Bunyan is a nice range and fun mid-range palma style match (300/500/600), but are generally not NRA approved (no classification opportunities) and usually don't startup until June.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the advice

    Quote Originally Posted by jaychris View Post
    There is a match at Machias (500Y) next month (Dec. 12 I think) and Plantation (300 yard range that Monte mentioned) should be starting up in Jan. with 300 yard matches. Both are good places to shoot (well protected) and good places to get to know the local F-Class shooters.

    Paul Bunyan is a nice range and fun mid-range palma style match (300/500/600), but are generally not NRA approved (no classification opportunities) and usually don't startup until June.
    I want to thank everyone who has responded to my questions. Monte and I are now in touch by e-mail. He is offering a lot of useful information and advice. I have to confess, I am not much of a winter guy. I come alive about mid June each year and go into hibernation again each November. One thing that keeps me away from many competitions is the fact they are held in, what for me, is unpleasant cold weather. I shoot only for fun, not to prove what a tough guy I am.

  12. #12
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    You may think about selling your rig and putting that money on a good f class stocked used rifle. By the time you throw that grand at it after your first match on the mat youll want to replace that stock anyway

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Stevens View Post
    You may think about selling your rig and putting that money on a good f class stocked used rifle. By the time you throw that grand at it after your first match on the mat youll want to replace that stock anyway
    I have an offer to attend a practice shoot and try someone else's rifle and other gear. It seems like a good idea to do that before selling anything or buying anything. Don't you agree?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slowshot View Post
    I have an offer to attend a practice shoot and try someone else's rifle and other gear. It seems like a good idea to do that before selling anything or buying anything. Don't you agree?
    Absolutely.......... and bring your BR rifle too so that if time and conditions permit, you can launch a few rounds from a prone position as a point of comparison. You'll learn a lot which is normally a good thing before cracking open the old wallet.

  15. #15
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    I think it would be a good idea to take up the offer. I use an MBR stock for 1000BR that will work for F as well. The "artificial" feeling you described in your post happened with me after using a joy stick rest. I sold the Seb and now feel that having a little more physical input into my shooting system is more enjoyable for me. There are other types of matches out there that involve positional shooting you may like as well using a Tac/Varmint type set up. I am going in the reverse direction from you. I am getting set up for short range LV/HV BR. Using a quality windage top on one of my rests will be part of the system. There is more opportunity in my area for that type of comp. But I am still going to travel for the LR-BR and F when time allows......Best of luck...Happy Shooting
    Rick

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