Written by Product Development Manager Mark Walker
I recently attended the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association 2016 F-Class National Championship matches held at the Connaught Ranges in Ottawa. This was my first trip to Canada and I was extremely impressed with the range itself and the professionalism that matches were run with. Target pullers were provided, so competitors didn’t have to serve “pit duty” and pull targets during the match. This gave the competitors some down time and gave the matches a little more relaxed atmosphere than here in the states where you are either pulling targets, scoring, or shooter during most every relay.
The first two days of the match saw temperatures well into the 90’s as well as high humidity so shade and cold drinks were the orders of the day when not firing. This also created some really interesting mirage that all but obscured the target causing it to jump around making aiming a challenge. While the mirage made aiming somewhat difficult, it did provide a lot of information as to what the winds were doing down range. If you could tune out the dancing target while using the information that the mirage was telling you, very good scores were possible.
The last day of the match was team day and it also brought cooler temperatures and some rain. We were, however, able to get the team matches shot without any significant rain during the match. With the overcast skies, the targets began very clear and you could aim very precisely without all the mirage movement. However without the mirage, reading the wind became a bit harder. The only indicator that was available were the flags spaced downrange. These do show direction and give some indication of velocity but because of the heavy material used in these flags wind changes are slow to show up. Emil Praslik, who is one of the best wind readers in the game, coached us during the team matches. He used those flags to make calls that I would have never seen had he not been behind the scope. We were very glad he was making the calls and all we that had to do was point the rifles. After the team event we had one more individual match to complete the aggregate. However during the first relay, the rain started and the matches were postponed while the targets were repaired. The rain made the already heavy flags heavier making reading the wind even more difficult. Even with the wet flags and heavy winds, lots of good scores were shot during the final match and the matches were completed.
One aspect of these matches that is different from most F-class matches held in the United States is that shooters had to “pair fire” instead of “string fire”. String fire is where one shooter is on the firing point at a time and that one shooter will fire all shots in their course of fire in succession. The shooter can fire their shots as quickly as the target puller can score their target or they can stop shooting and wait out a condition during the allotted time. During pair firing, two shooters are set up on the line at the same time and they alternate firing shots. After one shooter fires, the next shooter has 45 seconds to fire their shot. This forces the shooter to read the wind conditions for each and every shot instead of firing rapidly and “chasing” the spotter or waiting out a condition until one comes back that they like. If you want to learn how to read wind, this type of firing is what you are looking for. All in all, it was a great trip and I’m looking forward to going back next year for the world championships.
For more information about F-Class shooting please visit http://www.usfclass.com/
Final score information is available here: http://www.dcra.ca/results/2016/CFRC/index.htm