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Hunter Field Target (HFT) is a combination of Field Target Shooting and Hunting, which creates a fun, challenging and competitive sport for all the family. There are shooters of all ages and abilities that regularly take part in the sport, either at their local club and competing nationally on the UKAHFT circuit.
In a Nutshell
A typical HFT course that follows the UKAHFT rules consists of 30 metal knockdown targets at distances ranging from 8 to 45 yards. The targets are laid out in consecutive lanes, with each lane comprising of a lane marker (usually its number), a peg, a target reset string, and of course the target itself. The main skill of HFT is target range estimation, because the target ranges are not actually shown. It is this skill that makes a "marksman" shooter. Of course, you need to know your equipment too! The best thing about HFT, is practice makes perfect! You get two-minutes to shoot each tagret, although most people take less than a minute. As already mentioned, each lane has a peg - the shooter must be touching this peg by his/her body or gun when the shot is fired.
Hunter Field Target in more detail...
Shooting an HFT course does not require any special equipment other than an air rifle fitted with a Telescopic Sight. You may use any air rifle, as long as it within the legal limit of 12 ftlbs. (You may have your rifle checked at the club, if you are unsure of its power). Telescopic sights are not essential, but they are highly recommended. Shooting a 45 yard target with "open sights" would be extremely difficult (although not impossible). Rifles used in HFT vary a great deal, from recoiling "break barrels" to the latest Pre-charged Pneumatic (PCP) rifles.
As mentioned above, Telescopic Sights are highly recommended for HFT, so much so, that it is currently the "Scope" which is becoming the most important factor in competition HFT. There are literally hundreds of different types to choose from, and can cost literally hundreds of pounds too - but, it is possible to use almost any type of scope to clock up some respectable HFT scores. Currently, the most popular scopes on the HFT scene are the ones that use the "mil-dot" reticule as used by the military. Without going in to too much detail, mil-dot scopes basically offer numerous aiming points for varying ranges of targets and wind conditions. Some people still use the standard "30/30" type reticule scopes, but the mil-dot reticule is certainly becoming more and more popular.
Most Telescopic sights come with two main features: Variable Magnification and Variable Parallax (focusing). This may sound all well and good, but HFT has a very strict rule when it comes to using these features: basically you are not allowed to change the settings once you have started the course (or filled in your score card details). So, if you have these two neat features, you have to decide what you want to use. The easy part is choosing the magnification. If you have a mil-dot scope, then there is a good chance (without going into too much detail) that you have to set your magnification to 10x. The hardest decision to make is what parallax to use, which is basically at what range you want your scope to be focused at. Usually, the more expensive scopes make this a no-brainer, as they have a deeper depth-of-field (DoF) . For example, if you focus your scope to certain distance and your scope has a shallow DoF then objects that are closer and farther away will be out-of-focus. If however, your scope has a deeper DoF, objects closer and farther away will still appear quite sharp, and only slightly out-of-focus. This makes a big difference when trying to shoot a 15mm target at 25 yards! The only way to overcome this problem if your scope has a shallow DoF is to try your scope focused at different ranges to see which setting works best, although there will always be a compromise.
The target itself is comprised of a metal plate, (usually an animal shape and size, such as a rabbit), with a single "kill zone". The size of the kill zone varies from 15mm to 45mm and hitting the "kill zone" will result in the whole target falling back, flat to the ground. This is known as "killing the target". If you do manage to "kill" the target you will be rewarded a maximum of two points. There is a recognisable and satisfying "clunk" sound as the target falls. At this point it is common "HFT courtesy" to reset the target by pulling on the string provided. MAKE SURE THE "KILL" HAS BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED BY THE REST OF YOUR GROUP BEFORE RESETTING THE TARGET!
If however, you miss the "kill zone" but still hit the target, you will hear a distinctive "dink" sound, the target will not drop, and you will be rewarded one point. This is known as "plating a target".
TIP: If you "plate" a target, try to "spot" where your pellet hit. In most cases you should be able to see your pellet mark on the paint. Spotting this mark will tell you if you mis-ranged the target (the mark is either above or below the kill), or whether you miscalculated the wind (the mark is to the right or left of the kill). To help "spot" your mark, study the target before you take your shot, and try to memorise the marks that are currently on it. Obviously, this can be almost impossible if the target has been "plated" many times. Another good tip is to "follow" your pellet. In most cases you will not see your pellet travel to the target, but after you have shot, stay where you are and do not move, just like you are about to take another shot. Doing this may help you actually see where your pellet hit! Obviously, this is made a lot easier with a recoilles rifle!
Of course, the situation you DO NOT want to occur is missing the target altogether. This is easily done if you drastically mis-range the target, miscalculate the wind, or the most common reason: hit some foliage. Some targets are set to make missing foliage a major factor on some courses. Shifting your position, or stance can help you beat the course-setters! Whatever the reason, getting a zero or "donut" as it is lovingly called, is not a nice feeling. Most of time it takes the wind from your sails, and you feel cheated, or angry with yourself. Letting it get to you like this will only make things worse and upset your state of mind for the rest of the course - especially if you are in a competition. Try to put it out of your mind.
TIP: When you approach the peg to shoot your next target, it is good practice to pick up the reset string and follow it to the target. This will confirm the location of the target you should be shooting. A common mistake people make is shooting the wrong target and being rewarded a "donut". You can also tug the string check to make sure the target has been reset (in the up position). People also use the string to help them calculate wind. Simply pull the string so that it is off the ground and free from any obstacles, but do not pull it too taught. Let the wind "carry" the string to help you judge direction and strength.
The kill zones can be very different, and depending on the range, can make all the difference between a kill and a miss. Most of the time the 40mm kill zone targets are set out at the maximum of 45 yards. At these sort of ranges the wind is a major factor. In strong winds, the shooter can be forced to aim completely off the target - this sort of shot takes a lot of courage! The 15mm kill zone can only be set at a range between 13 and 25 yards. At these ranges the kill zone becomes a blur when looking through most scopes. Not only that, there is no room for error when it comes to ranging - especially if you are shooting in .22 calibre.
As with scopes, another major factor in HFT is calibre. The most popular calibre sizes in HFT are .177, and .22. Without going into the age-old argument of which is the best calibre, both have their pros and cons. Most people who have been shooting for decades and primarily hunt use .22 as this is seen as the hunters calibre. .177 calibre mainly derived from target shooting as it provides a flatter trajectory, and thus has a greater tolerance for range estimation, in that for most ranges, but not the same "punch" as .22. But, saying that. When it comes to Hunting or HFT, it does not matter what calibre you use, you just have to hit your target in the right place.
The trajectory of .22 and .177 pellets are very different. The .177 trajectory is considered "flat", while the .22 trajectory is considered as a "loop".Where the curve of the trajectory crosses the thick red line indicates the rifles primary and secondary zero points. The flight of the .22 pellet drops off considerably more past the secondary zero (30 yards) than the .177, meaning you have to aim higher (apply more hold over) the farther away the target is. Because the flight of the .22 has more of a loop in it, this requires the shooter to be more accurate in the range estimation of the targets. Being out by a yard, can mean the difference of a few inches!
Each lane (target) is shot by groups of 3-5 people at a time, with each group moving along the course once each member of the group has shot the target. As each target is shot, it is the responsibility of the shooter to ensure the rest of the group acknowledges that the target has been hit. As mentioned earlier, each lane has a "peg". This peg is a lot more important than it looks, and if you disregard it, you will end up with an unwanted "donut" on your score card! The peg actually indicates where the shooter must shoot from, and the shooter MUST touch the peg at all times while taking their shot, with either a part of their body, or their rifle.
A full UKAHFT specification course will consist of various shooting stances that you can take, some of which are forced. The stances are: kneeling, prone, and standing. There are strict rules that go with these stances, which are covered in detail on the UKAHFT website.
most people wear camouflage clothing. This is not a required piece of clothing, it is simply because most people that shoot HFT are hunters, and like to wear what they class as, "clothing they don't mind getting muddy". What is an essential piece of clothing though, is waterproofs, especially if you are going to be shooting throughout the year. Even if you are not shooting all year, we all know how un-predictable the British weather can be, and it is better to be safe than sorry. Also, if you are planning on shooting in all-weather conditions, it is essential that the waterproof gear you choose IS waterproof. Splash-proof and water-resistant garments will not keep you dry in the rain. Most shooters have Gore-Tex clothing and footwear. Don't let the thought of shooting in the rain and mud put you off - it is all part of the challenge!
If you have any questions regarding this, or anything else about shooting, be sure to register on the idenferns Forum, where you can get sound advice about almost anything gun related!
The most important rule of gun handling…….
NEVER POINT ANY RIFLE, LOADED
OR UNLOADED, IN AN UNSAFE DIRECTION.
Above all, safety is the most important consideration. always
know where the muzzle of your air rifle is pointing and
Never point it in an unsafe direction.
Whenever you shoot, make sure you know where the pellet is
going to end up before you pull the trigger.
The law makes no distinction between air rifles and more
powerful guns for which you need a licence – they are all
classed as firearms. This means that any offence you commit
can carry a very heavy penalty – and there are at least 38
different offences. Following this code will help you to keep
on the right side of the law, but, if you have any doubt, seek
advice from BASC (www.basc.org.uk) or your local police
firearms licensing department.
WHO CAN SHOOT
if you are 18 years or older there are no restrictions on buying
an air rifle and ammunition, and you can use it where you
have permission to shoot.
14 – 17 years
• borrow an air rifle and ammunition
• use an air rifle, without supervision, on private premises
where you have permission
• buy or hire an air rifle, or ammunition, or receive one as a gift.
Your air rifle and ammunition must be bought and looked after
by someone over 18 – normally your parent, guardian or some
other responsible adult.
• have an air rifle in a public place unless you are supervised by
somebody aged 21 or over, and you have a reasonable excuse to
do so (for example, while on the way to a shooting ground).
Under 14 years
• use an air rifle under supervision on private premises with
permission from the occupier - normally the owner or tenant.
the person who supervises you must be at least 21 years old.
• buy, hire or receive an air rifle or its ammunition as a gift, or
shoot, without adult supervision.
Parents or guardians who buy an air rifle for use by someone
under 14 must exercise control over it at all times, even in the
home or garden.
It is illegal to sell an air rifle or ammunition to a person
Under 18 years of age.
WHERE YOU CAN SHOOT
Where you intend to, always ensure that you are authorised
by the landowner or person with the sporting rights and that
you know precisely where the boundaries are. Get permission
in writing, if possible, to remove any doubt.
Going on to private land, or water, where you do not have
permission is trespassing, and if you are carrying an air rifle it
becomes armed trespass. Whether the gun is loaded or not, or
whether you are carrying pellets, is irrelevant – armed trespass
is a serious criminal offence carrying heavy penalties.
only shoot where you have the permission of the landowner
Firing pellets beyond
it is an offence to fire an air rifle pellet beyond the land where
you have permission to shoot, unless the occupier of the
neighbouring land has also given you permission. Where
someone under 14 is shooting, both the young person and the
supervising adult can be prosecuted.
it is also against the law, in england and Wales, to fire an air
rifle within 50 feet of the centre of a highway if this results in
someone being injured, interrupted or endangered. these
Whenever you are in a public place you should carry the
rifle in a gun cover and always ensure that it is unloaded
and not cocked.
offences could be committed, for example, when someone is
shooting in their garden close to a road and the pellets ricochet
onto the highway.
it is an offence in scotland to discharge any gun in a culpable
or reckless manner. this means shooting without caring about
the safety of others.