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Is there any logic to the current power / caliber restrictions in US BR and FT?

zebra

Member
Sep 29, 2015
1,779
44
New York
    Every time I get it into my head that I want to try airgun target sports, I get as far as reading the current rules and the list of guns people are using and then I lose interest. I have a hunch that I'm not alone on this. 

    The rules make no sense to me and they make the whole thing less exciting. I'm curious to hear what others think on this subject.

    The 12fpe limit for UK matches makes sense. You need a firearms license for anything more powerful so the rule makes the sport more inclusive. Most people can turn up with their off-the-shelf Cricket, Wildcat or whatever they have and compete.

    In America, I can't find any logic behind the 20fpe and 30fpe / 22 cal max limits imposed. The rules exclude more people than they include.

    Modern air guns are capable of accuracy at 100 yards (or more) and in America, where we have no power restrictions, many people want to push the target out further to keep testing themselves. We find it offensive if our $1500 air rifle is even tested at any less than 50 yards...

    Look at the popularity of Extreme Benchrest. It's one event in the entire year in just one state but people talk about it considerably more than all of the "sanctioned" benchrest matches combined. Even the national championship or the world championship events get less air time.

    The reason is obvious. With American airguns, 10m and 25m (or even 50m) events with specialist and uber expensive 177 rifles sounds boring. People want to go and compete in friendly competition with their favorite gun and caliber at distances that push the boundaries. They want to use their favorite 25 and 30 cal FX, Daystate, kalibrgun and Vulcan rifles and they don't want to have to buy a high price low power single shot 177. 

    If those that run the sanctioned events were serious about growing the sport, adopting the extreme benchrest approach and ditching the current one would make most sense in America IMO. 

    If there has to be restrictions, make them restrictions on how much you can spend on your gun and scope to make the matches more about skill and less about who can afford the most expensive guns. 

    In the words of Forrest Gump, "that's all I have to say about that". 
     
    you know that FT targets do not hold up to the bigger power you are referring to ?
    so you must be talking about benchrest shooting
    the 2015 Extreme results show 90 people shooting the 75/100 yard benchrest 
    and 88 people shooting the 25 yard benchrest
    and ONLY 13 shooting the big bore 200 yds

    the 2016 results show 90 shooters for 75/100
    70 shooters for 25
    only 15 for big bore 200
    looks like big bore is not that popular ?
    and .177/22 seems almost as popular as the .25 & .30
    are these the benchrest shoot you were referring to ?
    http://www.extremebenchrest.com/2015-extreme-benchrest-match-results/ 
    extremebenchrest.com/2016-extreme-benchrest-results/

     
    Nov 15, 2015
    139
    12
    Idaho
      At the shorter distances there are more ranges as less land space is needed. When one is shooting at closer ranges, where is the challenge when you have highpowered airguns especially in benchrest? 

      Wind is the primary challenge in benchrest. When you take that away, then you are only dealing with an equipment race and who has the most disposable income to compete. 

      At 10 meters, the targets are small, and you must hold the rifle or pistol yourself. The challenge is now primarily the shooter, for there is no wind to contend with and many affordable guns are capable. Take the position game outside, extend the range to 50 yards, and expose the shooter to significant wind, now you have a whole different game and challenges. Some of this may be too intense for many shooters. When you have gusting winds that knock you, the shooter, off balance . . . .

      As stated above, target damage is the primary problem with field targets. Airguns of Arizona is pushing an "American Field Target" game where higher powered airguns are allowed and distances go to 100 yards. But, the targets that will handle the higher energy impacts are much more expensive. The cost of the targets is way beyond the budget of smaller clubs. Also, again range space for 100 yard lanes instead of 55 yard ones, decreases the places where events may be held.
       

      blueflax

      Member
      Apr 6, 2015
      66
      4
      Idaho
        If that is all you got to say, I don’t see the problem. 

        We started the Idaho Airgun Field Target Club in 2005 because the nearest FT club was 700 miles away. We have about 20 Gammo targets and and 20+ FPE means that they won’t last long. 

        The airgun market has changed since FT came to America. There has been a significant increase in air rifle power since the 1990s. My mid '90s Career 707 (55 FPE) is a good example. When a new airgunner shows up with a rifle guaranteed to bend or break our targets the last thing we are going to tell him is “No”. He would be loaned a rifle to shoot the match. That, however, doesn't solve the problem.

        We have drawn upon other matches for courses of fire that are power neutral. These include ERB, National Match, Benchrest, 3 Gun and a Norwegen match that I cannot pronounce but really like shooting! 

        Tom Gaylord once wrote, “You gotta give’m something to do”. 

        I think that is the problem and the solution in one sentence.

        Ron
         
        Boy this is a very interesting discussion. All kinds of possibilities present themselves. The big problem is helping the people in power realize there is a lot to gain by figuring out how to be inclusive. Change is so hard but eat the elephant one bite at a time. I sure can see both sides of the argument. There is a place for traditional matches and a need to bring new blood on board by adding new events. Case in point: Skeet and Trap shooters were pretty snobby till Sporting Clays came around. Sporting clays turned out to be so much fun and often times humiliatingly hilarious as your buddies roared in laughter at your incompetence. But much fun was had and the $$$$ increased cause more shooters had to play! I will go hide now for awhile.
         

        zebra

        Member
        Sep 29, 2015
        1,779
        44
        New York
          "Strever"you know that FT targets do not hold up to the bigger power you are referring to ?
          so you must be talking about benchrest shooting
          the 2015 Extreme results show 90 people shooting the 75/100 yard benchrest 
          and 88 people shooting the 25 yard benchrest
          and ONLY 13 shooting the big bore 200 yds

          the 2016 results show 90 shooters for 75/100
          70 shooters for 25
          only 15 for big bore 200
          looks like big bore is not that popular ?
          and .177/22 seems almost as popular as the .25 & .30
          are these the benchrest shoot you were referring to ?
          http://www.extremebenchrest.com/2015-extreme-benchrest-match-results/ 
          extremebenchrest.com/2016-extreme-benchrest-results/

          
It isn't so much the distances I am referring to. It is the format of the event. Specifically, it is designed to allow people to use their favorite everyday gun. The one they practice with all year in their garden and take on hunting trips. It is an event made for people to use their FX Impact, Wildcat, Cricket, Royale or Airwolf. You don't have to invest in a dedicated 177 single shot Thomas or Steyr to have a chance. 

          It also has disciplines that push the boundaries of airgunning which makes it more exciting to people. 

          As for the explanation about damage to the targets, I'm calling BS on this one. I believe that the current FT targets might not be up to receiving a 50fpe 25 cal pellet but it's hardly an unsolvable problem. 

          There are plenty of shooting sports where people use rifles that are considerably more powerful than any air gun and they manage to find a type of target that does the job. Specifying the guns for the targets instead of the targets for the guns is the wrong way round..

          My suggestion is not that 25 and 30 cal guns compete with 20fpe 177 Thomas rifles in the current format. The suggestion is that the entire format be adapted, altered or replaced with something more inclusive and exciting to achieve faster growth in airgun target sports. 

          I won't speak for everyone on this. I just know that when I read about extreme BR, I think, that sounds fun, I wish they had something like that on the East side of the country. When I read about the "sanctioned" events, I think "if only it was more like extreme BR then I would have a go". 

          I think there is a lot of people who think like me on this topic, judging by how far in advance people start talking about and preparing for EBR. It's an event that is up to date with where air gunning is currently at. 



           

          zebra

          Member
          Sep 29, 2015
          1,779
          44
          New York
            "bvan"If you think more power (>20FPE) is more exciting then maybe you don't understand the concept of FT and then FT isn't for you.
            
That's kinda the point here. It isn't for me and a large percentage of the air gunning community. 

            Is this sort of closed minded refusal to even consider opening things up that is ingrained across the people who administer the current sanctioned events?

            The "if you don't like it then you don't know what you're talking about" point of view seems likely to be part of the reason why EBR is regularly discussed in mainstream forum sections while sanctioned events are hardly mentioned at all. 

            To every single possible excuse and objection, AOA have already proved (multiple times) that an event for regular airguns is not only possible but very popular and well received. 
             
            Another issue is the international nature of FT. WFTF has a strict 12 ft/lb limit. There are many matches held in Europe, which for now still includes the UK despite brexit and all that. So if you want to compete with the rest of the world, you need to train using the same equipment; FT started in the UK, and the largest number of clubs and shooters are still in Europe; in fact many more FT clubs than in US. Some of the hardest to hit FT targets have kill zones that are so small you are at a disadvantage even with a .22 rifle because the larger pellets can split on the face plate, and fail to knock down the target, so the large majority of FT competitors use .177. For this caliber there is no advantage (and in fact a huge disadvantage) of going to higher power, since pellet stability and thus accuracy drops once you start to go much above 900 fps, so even with the heaviest .177 pellets there's no point to going above 20 ft/lb. It would be sad if US went exclusively to a high power FT standard, since this would isolate us from FT shooters in the rest of the world, and as others have mentioned above would require development of targets capable of withstanding hits with higher powered rounds. But ... maybe US could lead in getting a new class of FT for higher powered rifles accepted by the rest of the world?
             
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            zebra

            Member
            Sep 29, 2015
            1,779
            44
            New York
              "Regal_US"Another issue is the international nature of FT. WFTF has a strict 12 ft/lb limit. There are many matches held in Europe, which for now still includes the UK despite brexit and all that. So if you want to compete with the rest of the world, you need to train using the same equipment; FT started in the UK, and the largest number of clubs and shooters are still in Europe; in fact many more FT clubs than in US. Some of the hardest to hit FT targets have kill zones that are so small you are at a disadvantage even with a .22 rifle because the larger pellets can split on the face plate, and fail to knock down the target, so the large majority of FT competitors use .177. For this caliber there is no advantage (and in fact a huge disadvantage) of going to higher power, since pellet stability and thus accuracy drops once you start to go much above 900 fps, so even with the heaviest .177 pellets there's no point to going above 20 ft/lb. It would be sad if US went exclusively to a high power FT standard, since this would isolate us from FT shooters in the rest of the world, and as others have mentioned above would require development of targets capable of withstanding hits with higher powered rounds. But ... maybe US could lead in getting a new class of FT for higher powered rifles accepted by the rest of the world?
              
If the limit was 12fpe here, I could understand that. I wouldn't like it but I could see it was so Americans could compete with other countries but... we have 20 and 30fpe limits, not 12fpe. 

              I think it's fair to say that 99.9% of us will never ever, ever, ever compete in international matches. Most will never even compete in national events unless they can get to EBR. 

               
              Nov 15, 2015
              139
              12
              Idaho
                zebra,

                There is nothing that says you cannot start your own club, invent games to play, and start shooting them with others. Like blueflax put it, we shoot all kinds of different events here in Idaho. We include .22 rimfire and even centerfire rifles in some of our matches. Many are based on experience with conventional shooting sports and what we have learned at EBR. The rest essentially follow established rules. 

                That said, you do have to classify with respect to power and powerplants in your matches. It would be unfair, for example, to pit economy springers with magazine fed .25 caliber PCPs in a speed shooting event at 75 yards. 

                Paper is one target medium that does not care about power. Many of our matches in Idaho use paper for this exact reason. It is also pretty inexpensive (at least until you start printing on very large pieces of paper like the EBR target). 
                 
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                Jun 16, 2015
                115
                3
                NC
                  I'm not sure how many of you have actually set up a field target course with lanes out to 55 yards or cut lanes in the woods but those that have know it's a tremendous amount of work. The thought of buying heavy duty targets and doubling the amount of land we need for a shoot to cut and maintain sounds like it would be a major challenge.

                  At the end of the day, I agree that whatever anyone can do to get people together and shooting is a good idea. If enough people want to make the effort to create some sort of high power FT game, it will happen, but someone has to do the work to make it happen.

                  I'd invite anyone to have a go at the 10-55 yard game first before they judge it. Our club even has a couple of very nice loaner 20fpe rifles for the events. If you are in NC come out and join us at the end of January. www.thagc.com


                  Scott
                   
                  "zebra"Every time I get it into my head that I want to try airgun target sports, I get as far as reading the current rules and the list of guns people are using and then I lose interest. I have a hunch that I'm not alone on this
                  Zebra: I'm not sure if you have tried FT yet. I'm a beginner, but really enjoyed my 1st match. Now I'm in the process of assembling my own FT kit, and I've decided to go with .177; scope has been ordered, but I'm still deciding on the rifle. Ideally, I'd like to be able to adjust power to shoot both 12 and around 20 ft/lbs, with appropriate pellet weights to get the right velocity at each setting.

                  If there is a club or match that's convenient for you to travel to, its worth a visit. I agree that its annoying not to be able to shoot your own guns if they are over the power limit (this happened to me), but even with the 12 or 20 ft/lb limit shooting FT is a lot of fun. Its really different from bench rest in that range for every target has to be estimated, but like bench rest you still have wind to cope with. Shooting a small target up in the trees, at 10 yards range, with a scope that was zeroed at 30 yds is surprisingly hard, just as hitting a very small target at 50 yds is also hard. The reactive targets are really rewarding to knock down, and every lane is unique. Adding to the fun/challenge are lanes where different positions, such as kneeling, or off hand, are required. The match director can also place targets where view and shooting position is limited, perhaps forcing you to shoot between tree branches etc. I found the hole experience very rewarding, in a different way from punching paper.

                   
                  I totally agree with Zebra. Especially the HFT class, where 90+% of the hunting rifles can never be used. I finally bought a .22 rifle that was 16 ftlbs, so have been able to try out the sport, but it's just silly not to have something where someone can shoot their favorite hunting rifle. There should be a HFT class that allows all the normal gear that hunters usually take with them to the field: up to 50 ftlb rifle, any scope, laser range finder (I don't know about most, but I do not take the time to range game with my scope), use the turrets on the scope (yes, I prefer that to a cluttered reticle), and maybe stretch it out a little farther (maybe 75 or 100 yds, but often it's the close shots that are most difficult). Yes, heavier duty targets would be needed, but I think participation would climb if shooters did not have to purchase a special rifle just for competition.
                  I probably won't compete this year as I plan on putting a scope on my 16ftlb rifle which is not legal (actually it's legal, but not useful without a marked reticle for holdover). That doesn't mean I won't attend the matches, but I won't be competing. 
                   
                  Zebra
                  I was of the same mindset when I bought my first .25 cal air rifles. I wanted more power and to be able to shoot further with decent accuracy.
                  Then I discovered the Tarheel Airgun Club here in NC and joined. Traded my .25 Marauder for a .177 Marauder and shot my first match. Been shooting 4 to 5 of their matches every year since.
                  I'll have to say I have come to appreciate what a .177 air rifle is capable of. My .177 Thomas and my .177 Cricket Carbine are my two favorite rifles of the ones I own. I recently even sold my .25 Cricket Carbine. But who's to say I won't buy another .25 or even a .30 later down the road?

                  As our club president Scott Allen mentioned above. The cost of stronger metal targets to take the high power hits and the land needed to acquire 100 yd lanes with a safety buffer is just something most clubs can't swing.

                  The hardest part of the 10yd to 55 yd FT is learning to range find properly with your scope and setting up your side wheel and elevation knobs for those that click. It's taken me 3 years to finally shoot a 50 out of possible 60 score, and I flubbed and shot a 49 on my last match, so I'm going backwards now ;-)

                  To me the most humbling experience was the day I shot my Cricket with Sightron SIII scope on 30 power in our "unlimited class" and my squad mate ( John Ford ) shooting his FX Independence with his Centerpoint scope on 12 power in "Hunter Class" and he cleans my clock by at least 6 or 7 points. We have so many phenomenal shooters, that it's really a blessing to able to walk the course and learn from them.

                  Also we usually have two forced position lanes every match. Standing and kneeling off hand. If I ever get decent at the kneeling and standing off hand shots, my score might go up a bit? At 50% on those two lanes it's costing me 4 points at least. And there have been times when I got a big fat zero on the standing lane costing me a whole 4 points just for that one lane! Really hard to get in the 50 club when you suck at those two lanes ;-)

                  You gotta bite the bullet and give it a try. I'm sure you will enjoy it. We have a great group of guys at our club.

                  Fuss
                   
                  Jun 16, 2015
                  115
                  3
                  NC
                    Jimmy makes some good points.

                    We even have an unlimited class in THAGC that allows rangefinders so people dont have to spend on an expensive scope. The only real limit is the gun can't be > 20fpe.

                    I dont see how higher power is viable unless the ranges get extended out, and if you do that it screws with the the 12fpe and 20fpe guys. Even if targets could stand it, i wouldnt see any sport in using a 40 or 50 fpe gun at a 1 1/2" 50 yard killzone. I could run the numbers but the hit percentages would be very, very high.


                    Just another random thought.

                    Anyone who has ever been to a FT match knows that targets malfunction. Just imagine the delay for everyone while someone walks 100 yards and has to climb a ladder to unwrap a tangled string on a tree target. Then 100 yards back.
                     

                    Percula

                    Member
                    Sep 6, 2016
                    381
                    12
                    AZ
                      Take a look at http://www.phoenixairgun.net/match-reports I think you might be surprised at what you see. Look at the results and the equipment lists. You will note there are a lot of the guns you talk about being used in our BR and FT matches, often times with competitive/winning scores. 

                      In BR the class system is a lot less about forcing you to buy XYZ rifle, its about allowing competition on equal footing. In BR the wind is a HUGE factor, and it's just super rare for someone shooting LV with a lite weight pellet to complete with someone shooting open with a heavy pellet. Just use your favorite ballistics calculator and put in a 90° wind at 10mph, then compare the drift of a 8gr vs 16gr pellet at 800fps at 25m or 50y.

                      There are also some very reasonable reasons as to why classes are limited by caliber. For example in 25m and 50y BR you are limited to 0.177, 0.20 and 0.22 calibers only. This has a lot to do with scoring and keeping the integrity of the discipline. You are scored with 0.224" plug, so that the shooter with a 0.20 or 0.22 doesn't have an advantage in pellet size in scoring. If you opened that up to say all calibers, and you have such small rings, basically you'd turn most shooters into high masters turning in 750 scores every time they shot. As it stands there are only a handful of outdoor 750 scores and they are record scores.

                      Our 75y and 100m are not sanctioned by any body unlike our 25m and 50y BR. We have two classes, one for "hunters" that have a couple restrictions to hold true to a hunting rifle like having a bi-pod and weight restrictions. And we have a "precision" class for those shooting with a front rest. If you look through those results, you see that the hunter class very often beats the precision class...

                      We also do BR silhouette competitions in two classes, one for smallbore and one for big(ger) bore. It's a lot of fun and very satisfying, while remaining difficult. Again if you look around our club site you'll note that no one all in the silhouette matches we've held has shot a perfect score.

                      We are a growing club. I started shooting with the club in October and have yet to come to a match where someone new wasn't either there checking it out or shooting their first match with us. At the rate we are going we are going to fill our benches and have to have multiple flights for every event we hold.
                       

                      Percula

                      Member
                      Sep 6, 2016
                      381
                      12
                      AZ
                        "srserl"I totally agree with Zebra. Especially the HFT class, where 90+% of the hunting rifles can never be used. I finally bought a .22 rifle that was 16 ftlbs, so have been able to try out the sport, but it's just silly not to have something where someone can shoot their favorite hunting rifle. There should be a HFT class that allows all the normal gear that hunters usually take with them to the field: up to 50 ftlb rifle, any scope, laser range finder (I don't know about most, but I do not take the time to range game with my scope), use the turrets on the scope (yes, I prefer that to a cluttered reticle), and maybe stretch it out a little farther (maybe 75 or 100 yds, but often it's the close shots that are most difficult). Yes, heavier duty targets would be needed, but I think participation would climb if shooters did not have to purchase a special rifle just for competition.
                        I probably won't compete this year as I plan on putting a scope on my 16ftlb rifle which is not legal (actually it's legal, but not useful without a marked reticle for holdover). That doesn't mean I won't attend the matches, but I won't be competing.
                        
I think what will happen is that new classes will emerge, e.g. an extreme class that will likely adopt the classic silhouette rule on calibers/power... shoot it if it doesn't damage the gear! You'll see longer lanes at clubs that can support them. Busy growing clubs with the space will end up offering more and more options.
                         
                        Great point Scott. I didn't even consider the trouble that a 100 yd reset string would cause. I've never been to a match where at least one target didn't get hung up or malfunction, or the string break.

                        Also if you are shooting without a range finder like most FT shooters shoot. The range finding at the larger yardages with a scope will pretty much be a nightmare? I have enough trouble range finding inside 45 to 55 yds.

                        Also sometimes it's hard seeing kill zones on the metal knockdown targets at 50 and 55 yds, would really be tough at 80 yds or 100 yds. Can't imagine looking for that 1.5" KZ at 100 yds on 12 power in a shaded lane?

                        There are lots and lots of variables that would have to be taken into account to change things from the status quo to longer ranges and higher power. I think most of these guys have tried to answer the questions with the best of class. Look forward to more issues the longer ranges could present if we were to pursue a long range match?

                        I have no experience what so ever at a BR match, but hope to make it to one sometime in the not too distant future.

                        Peace and knockdown target string rewinder grease
                        Jimmy