Getting started in F/Class shooting Sports
As I think back it seemed like yesterday I was standing on the 900 metre firing line looking at the targets down range and thinking there is no way anyone could hit a target that small at this distance. I was to find out yes it can be done, even by myself and some people can even hit the centre X or as known here in Canada and other parts of the world as the V-BULL on a regular, almost unreal consistent pattern. It was May of 2010 and I was at the Connaught Range and Primary Training Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada from an invite through the National Capital Region Rifle Association and member Paul Van Duyse. The club was promoting itself and looking to introduce new shooters to F/Class shooting, after meeting at the club house and being briefed on the club and safety needs, we headed out to the 300 metre firing point, there was maybe 25 or 30 people talking part along with five or six club members helping out. Again with the help of club members we all zeroed our rifles at 300 metres before moving back to the 600 metre line. I was feeling pretty good with myself as I had a good group at the 300 metre line, I had also shot hundreds or thousands of groundhogs over the years but not as far as 600 metres but how hard could it be, after all the club members were helping us out with come ups and wind calls.
As I was to find out in a big hurry a stock factory varmint rifle shooting light bullets is not the answer at long range precision shooting. After getting some help on my elevation I found out my scope toped out too soon, the only way I could hit the target board was to aim over it, not good for precise shot placement. I was also introduced to the winds of Connaught and out of a ten shot relay were 50 was a top possible score I ended up with a score of 19 points, not enough to win or even place very well in any kind of competition. I was some what discouraged and determined at the same time to become better at this sport of long range precision shooting.
Back at home over the next year or so my mind kept going back to shooting at longer ranges and with the help of Paul Van Duyse I became a member of the Ottawa club. Paul who at the time was working at Robertson Composites Inc. a well known gun stock and custom gun building shop put together a firearm for me. The gun was a 223 Rem. 30 inch barrel with a 1-7 twist, it was also chambered to shoot the longer 90 grain Berger VLD. bullets. Through out the rest of the year I worked with the gun testing loads and equipment, seeing what worked and what didn’t and believe me there was some troubled days when nothing seemed to work. Winter here in Canada isn’t designed for testing loads and equipment so after a long time-out spring came and I was back at it. After trying a number of powders and loads I came up with a couple of loads the rifle seemed to like, it also helped that I could shoot on my neighbours farm out to a 1000 plus yards a five minute drive from home, that worked out well in load development. In the early spring I shot in a couple of short range matches just to get the feel of the gun. What I found out was some of my equipment was not up to the job at hand, so a call to Fred and Tessa at STAR SHOOTER and Peter at HIRSCH PRECISION INC. a new Bi-pod and Night force scope were soon at home on my rifle, things were looking better.
On in the spring of the year came my first F/class match in Ottawa, was I nervous and had butterflies in my stomach you bet, thinking back to my 19 points at the 600 metre range a year ago I had reason to. How the match turned out I just forget but what I did find out some of the best and most helpful people you could ever run into are also F/class shooters and it wasn’t long before any problems I had or the butterflies were looked after. Over the last couple of years I have shot in small local shoots to regional and national competitions and have enjoyed each and every minute of it. I have had the great pleasure to shoot with some of the worlds top F/class shooters and found that all of them are great people from all walks of life willing to help out with anything that pops up. Canada also has some of the top shooters in the world along with great people in the industry both in their knowledge and ability to get things done.
In the coming years I would like to see F/class along with all of the shooting sports grow, I think we need the make it more open for new shooters, Kids, Ladies and family's to get involved, yes I know we have some great younger and female shooters out there but we each need to do our part to promote new shooters so let each one of us take on a apprentice and do our part. In 2017 the worlds F/class championships come to Ottawa and the Connaught Ranges, I for one is looking forward to that completion so Canada lets show the world that F/class shooting is Canadian in more ways then one and we are not only known for hockey. Now if I could only figure out those Connaught winds.
Cheers Bill McDonald
see you in Ottawa in 2017