FT or HFT?
Twenty years ago a typical SWEFTA event would have consisted of the main FT course and a selection of ‘side shoots’ such as long range, bell, snooker, and speed shoot, but invariably the most popular was the dump shoot, this consisted of targets, often unusually shaped ones, partially hidden behind various items of junk. This event was the forerunner of SWEFTA’s very own version of HFT.
Field target shooting began as very simple and inclusive form of competition to cater for those people who enjoyed shooting air rifles outdoors rather than the alternative, and rather formal, 6 yard and 10 metre indoor type of shooting. Predictably, the desire to win prizes soon turned this new sport into something of an arms race, the rate of progress and innovation was extremely rapid, leaving many, who could ill afford to constantly upgrade their equipment, feeling excluded. Around 2000 a group of disgruntled FT shooters decided to promote an alternative sport which was supposed to get back to basics, (human nature being what it is, it hasn’t quite worked out that way – but that’s another story).
In 2002 UKAHFT was founded and now has over thirty affiliated clubs. Membership of one of these entitles you to drive to various venues each weekend, where you will be required to lie face down in the mud (or worse) and shoot at a mere thirty targets before driving back home again! I for one am exceedingly grateful to the then members of the SWEFTA committee who wisely decided to include HFT shooting in our programme rather than risk diluting and weakening our regional club membership through endorsing division. The more populated areas of the UK can, and do, support both versions of outdoor airgun sport, but we are undoubtedly much stronger by remaining integrated.
So this is really a plea to appreciate and make the best of what we have. Many of us thoroughly enjoy a full days competition through shooting both events – if you are going to drive around a 100 miles you may as well make full use of the whole day rather than disappearing after a couple of hours. The entry fee is only £10 for two events, (or £13 for three if you have the stamina, and a seldom used springer).
As an extra incentive SWEFTA introduced a new competition in 2017 to recognise the shooter who has knocked over the greatest number of targets in a season while shooting both FT and HFT events.
Graham Noyce has generously donated this superb new trophy to be awarded annually.
The combined scores from each venue are recorded and the seven best (of ten) are added to determine the overall winner at the end of the season. Initially it was decided, in the interest of inclusivity, that all classes would be eligible. Theoretically a shooter competing in both FT open and HFT open enjoys a huge advantage, so it may become necessary to make some changes to the scoring system in future to recognise this.
Many of you probably already have a spare rifle which is rarely used, but you really don’t need a separate rifle or scope to take part, the FT course can be very successfully shot HFT style, while regular FT shooters can drop the scope magnification below 12x and enjoy either a bit of old fashioned range estimation, or alternatively, can experiment with some form of bracketing system, which can be a surprisingly accurate method.
With South Dorset and Dartmoor to go there is still time to give it a try before next season. Remember, the more entry cards we buy, the more the clubs and the region benefit, thereby ensuring that our sport remains both healthy and viable in the foreseeable future.
So, FT or HFT? – We are (uniquely?) lucky enough to have both.
Paul Salmon. July 2018.