Celebrity Shooter January 2011
We start 2011 with a new Celebrity Shooter
The "Man from Maffra" ALAN FRASER
Celebrity Shooter January 2011
Its a great pleasure and privilege to introduce Alan Fraser as this months Celebrity Shooter. The "Man From Maffra" in Victoria has traveled extensively around Australia and entered many of the most prestigious F-Open competitions. He currently ranks number 2 in all-time F-Open Queens wins (8) and probably won't rest until he exceeds Matt Paroz's tally of 10 wins. Alan is well known and liked in SA and regularly drives across to compete in the State Championships at the SARA Queens.
Alan is well known throughout Australia as the webmaster for www.ozfclass.com. This website is "THE" forum for Australian based F-Class shooters to exchange views and technical info on whats happening in Australia. The website is a credit to Alan's enthusiasm for the sport and his love of Australian F-Class competition. Its now Alan's turn to answer the 10 questions and perhaps through his answers we will learn a little more about the man and the sport he loves.
Q1. What was it that got you into shooting and helped shaped the competitor that you are today?
A. Firstly thanks Ian for honouring me with a spot in such distinguished company. In answer to your question, my shooting history is probably similar to most of us. I started shooting with a .22 on a farm in the outback of New Zealand as a 12 year old. Hares were actually more common than rabbits. The next thing was goats, then a progression to a .303 and pigs and red deer. I did a little small bore in NZ, then some full bore for a few years in the 80s after moving to Victoria, but while the eyesight was excellent, the steadiness was never going to be there, so I lost interest. But it was in about 2002 that I took my son to Rosedale Range to see if he wanted to try the old Omark that had been in the cupboard for about 20 years. He wasn’t particularly keen, but I found out about F-Class for the first time, and knew even before I fired a shot that it was the sport I was looking for.
I do enjoy the competitive aspect of shooting, but have never really thought about why. But a competitive nature is I’m sure an important ingredient for performance in any sport.
Q2. What are your favourite calibres and distances for F-Class competition?
A. There is no doubt that the 6.5-284 has been my favourite calibre. It is a very versatile chambering and suits my preference to have one gun for all distances. Its inherent accuracy has given me a swag of possibles at 300 yds, while its good selection of high BC projectiles makes it competitive with the best long range gear in Australia. Its main drawback is a relatively short barrel life, but I prefer to look at barrels as just another running cost, and in terms of performance for money, the 6.5-284 is very hard to beat. All that said, I’m rapidly warming to the 7mm Shehane – I’d always thought that recoil with 7mms using the heavy projectiles would be a problem, but have been very pleasantly surprised.
I could say that I enjoy shooting all distances equally, but that wouldn’t be true. I generally make up ground on the competition at the longs, and I guess its human nature to enjoy what you do best. I know that in many major overseas F-Class shoots, the standard course of fire is 800, 900 and 1000 yards (or the metric equivalent). I believe the most important skill in F-Class should be wind-reading, and in general, that skill will be tested more at the longs.
Q3. What are your favoured actions, stocks and barrel combinations.
A. To be honest I’m not the ideal person to get advice on what are the best brands because I’ve literally been a one gun shooter throughout my F-Class Open career. Keith Hills built my rifle with a Barnard action, Mastin F-Class Stock and Tru-Flite barrel. I’ve had 10 more barrels, mostly Kriegers, and mostly 6.5-284 switched into the same action and stock. Gary Hunt has been doing my barrel work in recent years. One brand I will recommend is Barnard actions – mine just gets the job done and I never have to think about it, which is about all you can ask of an action. On the subject of equipment, the more experienced I become the more sure I am that barrel quality is the single most important factor in determining rifle accuracy. And in my experience, getting a good barrel is mostly down to luck, regardless of barrel brand.
Q4. We are now heading towards the SSRs sanctioning the Super V on the ICFRA target for both F-S and F-O. Scoring will also be consistent across the classes in the 60.10 format. What are your thoughts on this unifying target and scoring method for F-Class?
A. This development is in my opinion a big plus particularly for F-Open, not so much in terms of what we want for our short term enjoyment, but what we need for our long term success. Most F-Open shooters enjoyed being squadded separately. It was good to develop and renew friendships with like-minded shooters at every Queens, and the Open target is without doubt better suited to scopes than thin white rings on black. However, most have now come to the realisation that the Open target and separate squadding was making us hard to cater for, and causing a “them and us” situation, which in combination put the survival of the category in jeopardy. Regarding the scoring method, I prefer the 60.10 format for several reasons, but mainly because I think the full value 70 would put too much emphasis on equipment accuracy, and therefore expense.
Q5. What draws you to the F-Open Class and what has been the main attraction for you to shoot in the F-Open competition?
A. When I first learnt about F-Class in 2002, F-Open was mentioned but I was advised to shoot F-Standard, because that is what the other scope shooters at Rosedale range were doing. However I ignored that advice and immediately set about researching what calibre I would use. The reason for the determination to shoot Open was quite clear – in my teens I had a keen interest in different calibres and external ballistics. And in my cartridge collection was a very sleek looking 264 Win Mag which I calculated would have the flattest 500 yard trajectory of anything if it was loaded with a particular Norma 139gn boat-tail which was available then. So I actually had a 264 hunting rifle built. Later when I was looking around the US shooting websites to decide on an F-Open calibre, the 6.5-284 had immediate appeal, because of its similar capabilities to the 264, but with proven accuracy and a more sensible case volume to bore ratio. I actually see calibre choice and reloading component choice as a key part of F-Class Open. You are pitting your judgement in these aspects against your competitors. So the banter on the range and in the online forums about 6mm vs. 7mm vs .30 cal etc. may be friendly, but it is for me a big part of what F-Open is about.
Q6. What are your favourite rifle ranges in Australia and also what are the most difficult rifle ranges you have shot on in your travels?
A. In terms of the total experience of staying at a range and shooting for 5 days, it would be hard to go past Belmont. The facilities and condition of the grounds are the best I’ve seen. My favourite range as far as testing one’s skills is probably Canberra. It has some very strange wind effects, even at the short ranges, and serves up the greatest variety of conditions from year to year. Most difficult? I recently asked Spencer Dunstall his opinon on this and he thought that the former location of the Tassie Queens at Pontville would have taken the prize for degree of difficulty. Of the current ranges he thought probably Lower Light. I’ve occasionally seen others endure patches of extreme difficulty at Malabar in NSW, and Swanbourne in WA, and uncharacteristically at the recent Nationals at Belmont, but I haven’t personally been struck down by any of them, so will have to concur with Spencer’s assessment. The good thing about Lower Light is that when its tough, everyone seems to get a share.
I should add that my travels have not yet included the Northern Territory, North Queensland or Tasmanian Queens, but I intend to see them all over the next few years.
Q7. What would you say has been your best moment in competitive shooting so far?
A. You may suspect some pandering to a mainly South Australian audience when I say this, but I can truthfully say it was my first Queens win at Lower Light in 2007 that stands out. It was partly because it was the first (after 3 times the bridesmaid), but it was mainly because it was unexpected, and was won in a 3 way shoot-off with two of South Australia’s finest. I was still grinning a week later!
Q8. I recently noticed you have started a new forum heading on ozfclass.com for Electronic Targets. Why are you giving this subject such prominence over other technical areas of the sport?
A. The reason for the special treatment of electronic targets (“ETs”) is that some of the people heavily involved with them have convinced me that there is an urgent need for discussion by shooters about many aspects of them. A number of clubs and associations around Australia have already bought, or are planning to buy ETs and I think some of them are going into it without due consideration of the pitfalls. They are yet to be catered for in the SSRs, and there are questions about their accuracy, reliability, and level of after sales support. The debacle at the Delhi games showed what can happen when ET projects are mis-managed. I do believe that ETs will eventually become the target system of choice, but if we get bedazzled by the technology and jump in too soon, they could actually do our sport more harm than good.
Q9. Your website has become a national favourite for sharing F-Class info and keeping shooters informed. Do you think the website has contributed in bringing about positive change for the sport by offering shooters a place to discuss some of the reforms that have been needed in our sport?
A. The ozfclass.com forums have I’m sure made some impact on communication within the F-Class community. Things haven’t always gone smoothly, particularly in the discussions about rules. But some of the good rule changes that have happened recently can probably be attributed in part to ideas put forward and refined on ozfclass.com. The equipment and technical forum is popular, as is the buy/sell one. Its not a lot of work or a big cost to run the forums, so while they continue to get even a modest amount of use, I intend to keep them going.
Q10. How healthy is F-Class throughout Australia and what do you think the future holds for our sport?
A. I think F-Class is going very well, albeit partly at the expense of Target Rifle numbers. Its clear that F-Class is attracting more new shooters from outside the NRAA umbrella than TR, the main attraction being the shorter learning curve. Some of our TR brethren need to accept this reality (most do), and encourage F-Class everywhere, because it will mean ranges that might otherwise be forced to close will remain, and hopefully prosper. One of the best things a club can do to boost recruitment is to have one or two F-Class club rifles for the use of new shooters.
If I do have a concern about our future, its more about sporting shooting as a whole. Gun ownership is increasingly becoming more rural and less metropolitan. However the electoral strength is continuing to move to the cities. We need to improve knowledge about and support for sporting shooting in the cities, or the anti-gun lobby will turn unfamiliarity into fear and shut us down. To this end, all shooters need to unite behind electoral parties who support sporting shooting as a major platform, such as the Shooters and Fishers Party. The major parties will just do whatever is electorally expedient, and can’t be relied upon for securing the future of our sport.
Many thanks Alan for contributing to this series of articles and sharing your ideas and experiences with us as the Celebrity Shooter!
Thanks for having me Ian, and congratulations on the quality and success of safclass.com.
Article for safclass.com.au by Ian Pavy 31-12-2010