HFT - What are the differences to other rifle sports?
Hunter Field Target (HFT) is another very popular outdoor shooting sport. There are more than one set of Rules but the following demonstrates some of the key elements.
Targets are “knockdown”, reset by a string and the shooter scores 2 if the inner “kill zone” is hit and the target falls back but 1 point if the inner zone is missed but the pellet hits any part of the “plate”. 0 points are given if the pellet misses entirely and heads for the forest backstop. The equipment is typically straightforward (and normal hunting or vermin control gear), a rifle (PCP or Piston), a scope, a glove and all-weather clothing. Additional items some find a benefit from include a shooting mat, pellet box or pouch and a calibration card (distances and reticle indcators). The scope can be focused and set to a user’s preferred distance before the course commences but once started the scope cannot be touched. There are no windicators or spirit levels permitted. The butt of the rifle can touch the ground or any part of the rifle can rest against the target marker post or a tree. Any position is permitted except for sitting i.e. prone, kneeling, standing. The shooter must maintain contact with the target peg (or marker post) while firing but this can be with the hand, rifle, foot, lower back, etc. Failure to maintain contact results in a 0. E.g.
The hand and rifle are in contact with the peg
To gain a better view of the target the foot is in contact and the shooter has moved well in front of the peg.
The target can be covered by up to 50% by natural or artificial cover e.g. leaves, twigs, metal fencing (remember that you get 1 point for hitting the plate, the extra point could be lost if the pellet hits a branch and is deflected away and misses the plate - a 0 or donut! Doh!
Standing can be unsupported or make use of a tree or branch (which may well be swinging about in the wind! always best to practice for standing with no support). Note foot is in contact with peg.
Kneeling is often needed to get a clear shot if there is vegetation at ground level covering the target. here the ‘lower back’ is making peg contact.
Note the use of good waterproof boots, over-trousers and elbow pads - experienced HFT shooters are ready for wind, rain, snow, mud, rocks, anything that must be coped with in order to get a steady aim.
Where to Aim?
Targets can be anywhere between 8yds and 45yds. 40mm, 25mm (max 35yds) or even 15mm (max 25yds) but you aren’t allowed to twiddle the scope i.e. cannot change focus and cannot dial for distance (let alone measure the distance as in FT). This is where practice and experience comes in. The beginner guesses the distance, with more learning the experienced shooter estimates the distance. There are methods to give a better estimate using bracketing (size of killzone or plate measured in MOA or Mildots except that the target will be out of focus). Careful choics of the scope distance setting before starting means that if the target is in focus then it must be ‘30yds’ (or whatever the user sets the scope to). At higher zoom settings the fuzziness is increased while at lower zoom settings the range of apparent ‘focussed targets’ is extended. Some competitions require the scope to be set no higher than 10x, some shooters like 5x. FT shooters often have scopes with zoom rings between 5x up to 50x, 60x, even 80x! and are forever twiddling. With practice the shooter can soon make some simple decisions (neglecting the wind!) e.g. zero set at 30yds then a 45yd 40mm target is about right if the crosshair is just at the top of the inner target but this depends on the rig configuration e.g. scope height relative to the barrel centre-line. Zero at 30yds? 35yd and 25yds are probably very close to the same aim points. Computer software is freely available to calculate such settings (but cannot be used on course, e.g. smartphones!) but practice on paper targets on the zero range is always the best way to develope a shooters range card.