This dissertation will of necessity be a personal history of F-Class in S.A., because I am longer on anecdote and shorter on detail.
As a background, I was a hunter/varmint shooter who had an interest in accurate rifles for what I perceived as long range. I also shot at Hahndorf R.C. at the old range near the oval, then the current one which is 204 yards.
An astigmatism meant that I could be more competitive with a scope than with iron sights.
Then one year, Hahndorf R.C. was invited to the Dean Range by I think Metro R.C. to shoot 500 or 600, and we were told that we could bring scope sighted rifles. This bit me badly, the bite was an infectious disease.
Not long after this the Cyclists R.C. introduced F-Class. I think this was an experiment in increasing membership as was happening in Canada at the time with Farquarson Class. There was also a parallel movement around Canberra in part induced by Benchrest shooters. These guys introduced what we now know as the Australian Championship Target.
One of my first experiments in F-Class was to shoot a hunting weight, 7mm stw, using 84 gn of powder behind a 162 amax projectile. This experiment terminated rapidly, when significant throat erosion was detected after each match.
In those days there was just F-Class, no standard and no open. Mostly people shot 308's but then Ron Hatton turned up with a 6.5x55, and Alan Maddern with a 6.5/284, many a duel was had by those guys. Also at the time the .223 was being experimented with and the cheapest way for me to get serious was to rebarrel my fox rifle to .223 with an 8 twist barrel. At the time, the highest b.c. 22 cal bullet was the 75 gn amax, and that's what I went with. It turned out that the 6.5 cal rifles were way ahead of the .223, but that rifle taught me a lot and gave me a lot of fun. In the end though I had to succumb, and rebarrelled my Hahndorf rifle to 6.5/284.
Elsewhere on this site, Ian has recorded Queens results, (Results
) so I won't go there other than to say that Alan Maddern won the first F-Class Queens in S.A in 1999. This Queens was a milestone for us, because it said we were on the map as a discipline. Not only that, it was won by a South Aussie and there were people from interstate there, looking for easy pickings. We must thank S.A.R.A. for that Queens, as they would have been feeling their way on this first competition. We must also thank Kevin Hunt for his continuing support in the leadups.
Prize shoots were beginning to include F-Class in 2000 and grew in number until what we have now. I remember travelling to Jamestown and meeting Trevor and Lynn Otto, Darren Chapman, Pete Rudd all from Kapunda R.C. They were well into the F-Class scene, so now we had 2 clubs going. This might have been about 2001. That shoot included a night range, which was great fun.
In 2002 I went to the Canberra Queens to get my ass whopped, but did succeed in winning a range. Then 2003 saw me at Bacchus Marsh prize shoot, 2004 saw me shoot my first 100 possible at Bacchus Marsh, in the company of a couple of Kapunda R.C. boys. This year also presented one of the big upheavals of F-Class. I attended the Stawell prize shoot, and found out on the mound that there was no F-Class event for rifles other than .308 and .223. F-Class Standard had begun unofficially in Victoria, and has grown to what it is today.
Up until about 2003, the S.A.R.A. Council had made a good effort developing F-Class, but some shooters felt that the council lacked the necessary technical understanding of our needs. In this year they allowed us to elect Trevor Otto as an adviser on our behalf. Another step forward by S.A.R.A. and for S.A., from there we have developed to having an F-Class association to deal with S.A.R.A. on our behalf and this seems to be working well.
In the early days, we all used to attend every prize shoot we could, and this support was repaid with more events that included F-Class. While we demonstrated responsibility and supported F-Class events, S.A.R.A. have supported us and enabled us to grow. With that growth we have more to offer new shooters, and so the whole thing snowballs.
The one thing which is advancing F-Class now is the reduction of the them and us syndrome. Years ago F-Class shooters thought that Fullbore TR shooters were against them, and Fullbore shooters were suspicious of us. Due in part to the introduction of the super v target, and to efforts made by all parties, the long range fraternity in S.A. has never been more cohesive and can only go forward from here.
Bruce Moulds 29-12-2010