F-Class: this long-range rifle game requires specialized gear and gizmos.

Author:Anderson, Dave

Recent years have seen a remarkable growth in F-Class competition. Shooting is at various distances from 300 to 1,000 yards depending on the particular match and shooting range. All shooting is from the prone position. Scopes and front and rear rests are allowed.

The two major divisions are F/TR (target rifle) and F/Open. In F/TR, rifles must be chambered for either .223/5.56mm or .308/7.62mm. Maximum weight is 8.25 kg (about 18.2 pounds) including any attached sling or bipod.

F/Open has a maximum weight limit of 10 kg (about 22 pounds) and can be chambered for any cartridge subject to limitations (in the club where I shoot maximum caliber is 8mm).

Some associations also recognize F/Factory division. I'd like to see this encouraged as a way to bring in new shooters and keep costs down. Nonetheless it will never be an inexpensive game. In addition to the basic rifle, scope, base/rings, ammunition, you'll need a few accessories.

One of the least expensive yet most useful accessories is a shooting mat. Each stage of a match can take a half hour or more, and during the course of a match you'll likely be in the prone position for two or more hours. The more comfortable you are, the better you will shoot.

The bottom surface of the mat should be water resistant, and with a sticky, tacky material to keep it from slipping. The top should be padded but still firm and stable. Most shooters like a fairly large mat so they can move around a bit while getting aligned on target. Plus it is nice to have your ammo box and log book on the mat rather than in the dirt.

Some mats have grommet holes so they can be staked down on windy days. Personally if the wind is so strong it's flipping over shooting mats, I may as well shoot offhand for all the difference it would make. Still, in a match you take the conditions as they come and deal with them, so it's not a bad feature.

Brownells offers several shooting mats, including the Crosstac Precision Long Range Shooting Mat and the Boyt Harness Bob Allen Tactical Mat. (I do love those names!)

Midway USA has a range of competition mats. If you like room to roam, check out the Half Acre Padded Shooting Mat Olive Drab. Currently I use a mat bought on sale at Cabela's, which they call--wait for it--Cabela's Shooting Mat.

Other than the lame name, the only thing I dislike is the partial black color. Black gets hot on sunny days, and can provide camouflage for ticks.

F/TR requires the front rest (sling or bipod, though no...

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