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Can Open and WFTF shooters understand the 12x Hunter problem?

May 16 2017 at 10:42 AM

Bob D.  (Login MB-BOB)

The absence of scope restrictions in the rules for Open Division and WFTF Division, means that scope use has evolved into a focus range-finding game in those divisions.

Accordingly, one can’t be faulted for thinking that Hunter Division is reasonably intended to be a focus range-finding game, too, on equal par with the other divisions. However, this has not proven to be so, due to limitations imposed by the rules. Instead, Hunter scope use has evolved into a combination of scope techniques. Among them is optical comparative range-finding, known as “bracketing.”

So, you don’t care… you shoot in Open or WFTF...

Using a scope to range-find by optical “bracketing” (rather than focusing) is not necessary in Open or WFTF Div, but almost required in Hunter. And because the method is so different from Open and WFTF techniques, some within those divisions even disdain bracketing, as if it is somehow devious or less than honest (it isn’t). Are you one of them?

I know how to acquire range by optical bracketing. I use it occasionally, as a backup method to arrive at a consensus confirmation of range via the primary method… focus range-finding.

However, after years doing so, I’ve come to the opinion that bracketing is merely a band-aid solution, an artificial crutch to make up for a basic (Hunter) rules problem that does not allow scopes fundamentally scaled to the parameters of the game itself (10-55yds).

So, you don’t care… you shoot in Open or WFTF...

Let’s state this another way so you will understand… If WFTF and Open Class shooters were limited by rule to use equipment (say a knee riser or a wind indicator, straps or jacket) only to 40 yds… but not beyond, I guarantee there would be an uproar. Yet Hunter shooters are told to be satisfied with this strapping scope limitation, and instead must find “other means” to shoot beyond 40 yards. Got your attention, now?

It is a bit disingenuous to teach newbies that FT is a focus range-finding game, when that applies only to 2 of its 3 divisions. A 12x scope can only be used to focus range-find for the first 75% of the game’s distance. Various made-up, band-aid solutions are then required to guesstimate ranges beyond (roughly 40-55 yards). Try to explain that to a new shooter trying to decide which division to pick.

After several years of experience, the inescapable conclusion is that 12x doesn’t satisfy the stated intent or spirit of the game beyond 40yards. The question then becomes what scope magnification is minimally needed to permit hunter shooters to focus range as intended by the spirit of the rules… out to the full 55 yards...

So, you don’t care… you shoot in Open or WFTF... But can we Hunter shooters be treated the same as you Open/WFTF shooters, please?

I’m not suggesting that Hunter shooters be given what they WANT. Nor am I suggesting that scopes be “unlimited” for Hunter. Nor does it matter much to me personally, as I seem to perform well enough with 12x on some (but not all) occasions. I’m thinking about want works for others… to grow the game.

I am suggesting that it should be reasonable to provide rules that make the game plausible throughout its entire range, granting what is NEEDED to play the game across all three divisions on a similar basis. Without it, Hunter shooters are left to feel like a green-haired half-brothers among their Open/WFTF friends.

12x is a good accommodation for Pistol Field Target, as that magnification can reasonably be used through that game’s range (10-35yds). Shoot both games and you will see the stark contrast of the problem… and how the 10-55yd RIFLE game is inadequately served at 12x.

When the Hunter rules were codified many years ago, 12x was an arbitrary choice. Had to start somewhere. Now that we know through experience that 12x is insufficiently scaled to the game, another arbitrary choice should be made.

But you still don’t care… you shoot in Open or WFTF...

If Open and WFTF Division shooters say that 30x is "adequate," then one can make an equally arbitrary choice to cut that by half, to 16x, for Hunter. Still less than Open/WFTF "adequate," but it is a progressive accommodation that still keeps the games separate, yet similar in focus range-finding spirit. 4-16x is a very common spec, and one can buy a CenterPoint 4-16x 42mm scope for under $80 at any Walmart in the US.

If incremental change is a prudent way to go, then arbitrarily pick 16x, and let’s see how that goes for a couple years. Who knows, it might quell some of the clamoring for "Unlimited" classes, and a retention of shooters in Hunter.
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This message has been edited by MB-BOB on May 16, 2017 10:47 AM

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Paul Porch
(Login paulporch)

I shoot Open and I don't care !!! But Bob, what I don't care about is what

May 16 2017, 11:23 AM 

Magnifications hunter class uses for the power of their scopes!!! I see no valid reason why hunter class could not use and range at higher power.

That is one class.... It does not affect open, or WFTF, as we have our set of parameters in the rules for our classes.

The only time I see where a complaint would be voiced, is where there is an overall high score award... Then the hunters have the disadvantage as the rules are writteb now.

The same could be said of open and WFTF of the hunters using steady support (bipod's) and seating, that could give an advantage in an overall score

Really, if there was no high match score for an event, then no class would have a leg to stand on saying one class had it over another. So I say go ahead and let the hunters use whatever power that want and can afford in a scope.

I have been hunting all game animals for many, many years and do quite well each season. I use whatever advantage I can to bag game. However I follow the rules when it comes to bow season, black powder season ,and rifle. Along with the restrictions it carries. For instance in PA we could only use real primitive black powder. That ment no inlines, no minis, no sabots...etc. just Flint lock and ball ammo with patches.

So let's get the controversy over and have the BOG vote on the scope power issue for hunters at the 2017 Nats.....

Also perhaps some clubs could try it out at their local matches to gauge the results.

See you Friday at the Southern Open....looking forward to the pistol match....

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Bob D.
(Login MB-BOB)

You make a interesting point, Paul

May 16 2017, 11:35 AM 

Some folks think it important to compare the three divisions for overall match high scores, etc. Personally, I have never felt that to be important, because they are structurally different and not readily comparable.

My only point to this thread is that Hunter at least should be allowed to use equipment properly scaled to the game (range parameters) as played by the other divisions. But that's it. The Alpha dog argument as to which division scores high match doesn't interest me at all.
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Tyler Patner
(Login Tpatner412)

Home Run

May 16 2017, 11:39 AM 

Maybe not the whole Post, but I agree 100% with this line:

"Really, if there was no high match score for an event, then no class would have a leg to stand on saying one class had it over another."

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(Login AngliaUSA)


May 16 2017, 11:46 AM 

Nailed it ....

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Paul Porch
(Login paulporch)

Thanks Tyler, sometimes I can foster a good thought...lol

May 16 2017, 4:30 PM 

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Tyler Patner
(Login Tpatner412)

Understanding and Caring are two different things

May 16 2017, 11:37 AM 

So what are you looking for? WFTF and Open shooters to understand what you call a "problem"? Or For them to care about said problem? Or both? The distinction is important.

But to make a blanket statement that Open and WFTF shooters don't care is ridiculous. I would consider it perfectly reasonable not to care if the "problem" doesn't impact you directly. End of the day, why does it matter if they care or not? Your point is better proven coming at this from another angle in my opinion, and you could've gotten there a heck of a lot faster.

Your post sounded like whining until the last sentence, at least to me. You said "Who knows, it might quell some of the clamoring for "Unlimited" classes, and a retention of shooters in Hunter."

I'm more focused on the retention part, and the potential for such a magnification change to make it easier for new shooters to get into it and stay into it. I don't think anyone can argue that 16x would be anything but good for the game (notice I'm saying the game and not Hunter class specifically). But you take so long getting to that one sentence, that most people probably won't even read it. Or worse, miss that important point in your post.

Instead of making this about how the other classes "Don't care", make it about how we can improve and grow the sport. After all, individual shooters in other classes aren't going to care unless they're concerned about growing the sport and retaining shooters at their clubs. Which is something I believe a lot of us want and are actually concerned about. Making the game easier for the new shooters without drastically altering the rules should go a long way to retaining and attracting new shooters.

Center this post around the game as a whole, instead of Hunter versus WFTF and Open...and I assure you, my response would be full of praise and agreement. But take this "us vs. them" approach and you will lose your audience before you make your point.

So the real question and title to your post should be:
"A suggestion for growing and retaining the sport"

Get rid of the negativity, come at this from a FT-centric perspective (instead of a Hunter class only perspective), and people will stand with you....at least I would.

I look forward to seeing you in Heflin this weekend. Would love to discuss further there.

This message has been edited by Tpatner412 on May 16, 2017 11:55 AM

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Bob D.
(Login MB-BOB)

I think you miss the method in my madness...

May 16 2017, 12:05 PM 

Of course the other divisions care about the game, and even care about Hunter Class. The "hooks" within my post were not meant to be negative, or to divide one group against another at all, but rather to gain attention/interest to the issue, and to retain interest during what you point out (and I freely admit) is a long explanation.

I feel it important that we do something to retain hunters within hunter class. If increasing the magnification to 16x does it, then it's a very SIMPLE and infinitely more efficient solution than trying to figure out how to accommodate (some) people shooting from bucket and sticks in some other division, which (IMO) makes no sense at all.

Looks like we may have some periods of rain on Sunday, so this would be a great opportunity to discuss further. I am sure we are on the same page on this issue and appreciate your thoughts.
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This message has been edited by MB-BOB on May 16, 2017 12:21 PM

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John in Ma
(Login jroh1)

I agree with Tyler

May 16 2017, 12:55 PM 

The tone of your post, intentional or otherwise is whiny and self centered. I did miss that last little bit about retaining shooters because about half way through my glazed over and I thouth"well here we go again with one of three people who constantly make this an issue, I'm done with it". I started shooting FT in 2014, going to Heflin and taking 7th in hunter class, and the same in Ennice. I never thought of 12x as a disadvantage but a challenge. So you may ask why did I switch to WFTF? It's more challenging than Hunter or Open. Bob, why don't you try out wftf, sit on your ***, put the gun of 12fpe on your knee and see how you do at a match. It's no as easy as the top guys make it seem even with better range finding.

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(Login AngliaUSA)

Well written .. but

May 16 2017, 11:45 AM 

I DO care even though I shoot WFTF ...

To me at least I thought Hunter division in the USA is all about an 'entrance' into the sport of FT .... for beginners / shooters , using a basic FT rig and a simple low powered scope to get there feet wet ....

So would adding a 16x power scope in Hunter make it more fair ??? FAIRNESS is not part of the equation , if never has been and it never will.

so unless our equipment is 'standardized' Somebody will always have a more accurate rig or a better quality scope which ranges more accurately ....

I hazard a guess that 70% of USA FT shooters are either retired or 'Seniors' ....

so for that reason alone YES it (Hunter) serves as an important division for the physically impaired who need (or prefer) a bucket and bipod to shoot and for that reason alone I think that it is an important division and one that we should keep.

But if you add higher powered scopes to the Hunter division then I wager we'll see courses being cleaned on a more regular basis.

Is that bad .. no of course not .. but only if the objective is to make it much easier to shoot more accurately at longer distances

then by all means let's allow it and let's not forget the participation awards for everybody who shows up .... wink.gif

If we continue to try to reinvent the 'wheel' by changing the rules and adding classes and equipment, we further dilute the sport ... which I believe hurts us in the long run.

after further digesting what you said...... I still feel that what's best for US Field Target is to focus the game to International rules WFTF and HFT to properly grow the game.

The sport is hugely popular over there with young and old throughout Europe with thousands of active participants.

But why is it so popular elsewhere ? ... what are they all doing that we aren't ?

And it's not because they can only shoot 12ft lbs. That's just an ignorant statement make.

Take a peek over at the shooting the breeze forum and you'll see what's going on in the sport of FT


But the USA still maintains that more power is what's best for the sport, and more stability to make it easier for all etc etc ....

In retrospect I think the 20ft lb rule and allowing straps and harness' has actually hindered the development of the sport over the past 20 years.

Thankfully us WFTF shooters can still shoot our desired game .. so on a personal note I am content .... but I don't see our sport growing like it should or could.

If we want the sport to grow in this country we need to follow the lead of countries that are actively growing the sport and do what they do ...follow there example etc

this isn't rocket science.

I have shot EVERY class / division in Field Target in the USA and have enjoyed all of them for different reasons. IMOP By far the easiest class to shoot is Hunter even with the limitations of a 12 power scope.

Although now I guess the UNLIMITED class would earn that title of 'easiest class' to shoot.

By far the hardest class to shoot is WFTF Spring piston. Which is where I am now. And whilst I enjoy competition I prefer the challenge of improving my shooting in a more difficult class .

So to conclude I say leave Hunter alone and keep it 'at least' a little bit harder than the Unlimited class .. LOL

Anyway I'll get off my soap box now .... just my .2c worth .... no disrespect meant to anyone !

Just shoot what you got and have fun at the end of the day.

I need to go figure out my dope sheet for the Temecula winds ...

Continued safe shooting to all.

James B

This message has been edited by AngliaUSA on May 16, 2017 11:49 AM

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(Login dan_house)

But why is it so popular elsewhere ? ... what are they all doing that we aren't ?

May 16 2017, 1:39 PM 

ITs not what THEY are doing, that we arent....

It the fact that this is 'Murica, and we have VERY relaxed gun laws compared to most of the world. In other parts of the world if you want to enjoy the shooting sports, you have to either jump thru the hoops to get a license, or shoot airguns.

In Montana, I can have a concealed carry permit, a suppressor, a full auto weapon...... We have at least 3 1000 yard ranges with 5 hours drive, one 1Mile range that Im aware of, tens of thousands of acres to shoot and hunt on.... and there is a series of long range (300+ yards) shooting competitions that gets on TV occasionally.

SO the real issue is how to get folks to put down their shoulder cannons (or the mall ninjas to put down their AR-15s) and pick up a bb gun to shoot targets 55 yards or less away....... Quote:"Why you want to shoot those bb guns boy, get a real weapon." Around here, shooting airguns is somehow "unmanly"...... happy.gif

And it doesnt help a bit that at most any gun show here I can get decent used Ruger 10/22 for what it cost to get a 2260/qb78/Disco built up for FT....

American shooting sports has a mind set of "more power", and thats the real reason THEY have grown the sport so well over there. IF/when American gun laws become as restrictive as other parts of the world, then you'll see an increase in air gunning becoming more mainstream.

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(Login AngliaUSA)

Great points and for the most part I agree completely

May 16 2017, 1:51 PM 

Perhaps it's because I am a British Expat living in the USA ....

that I feel the way I do ...

But I do also own and shoot Powder Burners .... so I do understand the excitment of 'real' gun shooting.

But having come full circle 'so to speak' I now enjoy airgun shooting more than any of the other shooting disciplines.

Perhaps the real issue is how we should be better 'marketing' our sport to the shooting masses to increase participation.

Each to there own .... it's a big wide world.

Stay well !


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(Login dan_house)

"how we should be better 'marketing' our sport to the shooting masses"

May 16 2017, 2:15 PM 

Figure that out and you sir will be a millionaire......


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Scott Hull
(Login Scotchmo1957)

"courses being cleaned on a regular basis"...

May 16 2017, 5:24 PM 

That would not happen. I would take that wager.

"By far the hardest class to shoot is WFTF Spring piston...."

Hardest to do? Or hardest to get high scores?

I think that Hunter Spring piston might be harder for the top scores, since they have the 12x scope limit which WFTF does not. Most spring guns shoot a little better without the bipod anyway. If the Hunter shooter can manage to break the shot perfectly still, they will miss if the ranging is off enough. And if your distance estimate really is that far off, holding steady actually reduce your chance of a hit.

"So to conclude I say leave Hunter alone..." - I agree with you there.

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(Login AngliaUSA)

agreed ... but further evidence of diluted classes

May 16 2017, 5:50 PM 

and you and I both know that accurate ranging isn't hard once you learn to bracket ....

but the wind can still 'get you' and result in a miss 'whatever' you shoot ... it's just less likely at 20ftlbs with heavy lead.

It is what it is .... because it is.

Open PCP
Open Springer
Hunter PCP
Hunter Springer
WFTF Springer
Unlimited PCP
Unlimited Springer
High Senior
High Junior
High Lady

11 classes so far and counting ... did I miss anyone ?

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Scott Hull
(Login Scotchmo1957)

Most piston shooters prefer the lower fpe.

May 16 2017, 7:40 PM 

"and you and I both know that accurate ranging isn't hard once you learn to bracket ...."

True, not that hard once you learn (with lots of practice), but it's still a skill that is more difficult to master when compared to the simpler focus range finding.

I think the top shooters get to a point where they realize that a 20fpe piston gun is harder to shoot and will not help their score.

14fpe is near the high end for most piston shooters. An 8.44gr pellet will have virtually the same drift at 12fpe as at 14fpe.

If you go to a heavier pellet and launch it a lot faster (900fps), then you will have some ballistic advantage. But it won't pan out with a piston gun with regards to ease.

Less wind drift is good but how much moa are you willing to sacrafice in order to achieve it?

Sorry, Hunter/piston is harder to hit the target.

Maybe if you have a 19fpe recoil-less Whiscombe or a Diana 54/56 shot from a prone/bibod, then you have a ballistic advantage and still OK accuracy. But you and I both know how physically demanding that combination can be. Easier? - No.

You are right about too many classes. First thing we should do is combine all the piston classes at AAFTA matches.

Why have the WFTF/Piston class and also the Hunter/Piston class? We don't have separate Hunter/Lady classes and WFTF/Lady classes.


8 instead of 11. Could be better, but that's a start

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(Login lhd)

You are overplaying

May 17 2017, 12:19 PM 

A "class" in terms of competition should NOT include "high Senior" and "High Lady". These are normally token awards that simply recognize the existance of old guys or women in the field, since they usually are not seriously "competing" for those awards, but rather, they compete to be recognised for high scores in the equipement classes, not gender or becuase they are older than somebody else. These classes don't "grow the sport".

I DO see merit to a junior class, as they typically are not able to pick their own equipment are are often just starting out, but women and old folks don't need different awards.

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(Login FireMarshal)


May 16 2017, 1:35 PM 


If a sub-committee could be appointed to represent the competitors in the Hunter class and come up with what those people would be satisfied with, would that satisfy everyone or would that just bring on more conflict and confusion?
I am concerned that there are ongoing problems in any class, but really don't care what any particular group that I am not involved with does as far as how they shoot or what their rules are. That might change if I had to shoot in another class than Open.

If we did this, would that bring on more calls for similar changes in the other classes?

Really, it doesn't seem to matter what is done, there will still be someone who is not satisfied completely.

Sub-committiees could be a help, but it would add to already over burdened people that are doing their best to run the different clubs.

Hope to see you this Friday,


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(Login dan_house)

I care, a lot

May 16 2017, 2:09 PM 

for a couple of reasons....

I want to see people have fun and drop targets, and I want to see new folks in the game......

If the rules dont allow for either of those then something is wrong with the rules. American HFT has been around long enough now, its time for a top to bottom reassessment and fix the things that have become a hindrance to the class.

Hunter has to decide if its a simulation of hunting, or an entry level class to FT (much like "Sporter class" is to 10m shooting). Which ever definition is chosen, will give you the direction to start fixing the issues of the class.

I agree with Bob, make 3 changes for a couple seasons and see how it goes.

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Tim MacSweyn
(Login CanadianFT)

Just a thought

May 16 2017, 4:57 PM 

Some are familiar with the Canadian Hunter Division rules. There are differences, but that is not what I am interested in.

A couple of years back, we had a meeting at our annual, hunter only match. Most of the active hunter FT guys were in attendance. We reviewed the rules and fielded all question and listened to all proposals. In the end, a few rule modification resulted, based on suggestions made by the hunter guys.

First, they wanted all match type clothing, like shooting jackets and shooting gloves out of Hunter. Second, they did not want to allow any clicking for elevation. Third, they wanted to continue to have the distances covered on the objective lens or side-wheel. We do allow 16X power scope as we have all along.

So the guys wanted to use mil-dots for aiming and eyeballing for range-finding. A few US shooters that shoot over here use bracketing, but I do not know of a Canadian shooter that does. The hunters of the gang wanted things the way they are when they hunt; they have no time to range-find or click. A quick focus to see the target and then squeeze off the shot based on your range estimation. Most take their six shots on a lane in about three to four minutes, some faster. We have not changed the timing due to the problems it may lead to on a mixed division course.

Seems we have minimized what the equipment does and put more stress on a shooting skill like range estimation by eye.

As an aside, we never have an overall match winner. Each of the three divisions are separate and equal with respect to awards.

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