You have your rifle, mat, front rest or bipod, rear bag, and ammo ready to shoot in your first F-Class match. But are you really ready? While you read this, picture in your mind’s eye that you have all the items I listed in my first sentence already on the firing line in place.
Now, what else should you have handy? Drawing a blank, or has your mind misfired? Let me help. How are you going to keep score? What if it rains? How do you get your gear down to the 800 yard line if they don’t allow you to drive your vehicle? There are many things most newer shooters don’t consider before going to their first big match. No problem! I’m here to help.
In order to keep score you are going to need a pen to write with. A backup or two would be even better. I have given away more Berger pens in the last 11 years to people scoring me than I can count, even if I had 10 hands and feet. A small clipboard would be nice to go with the pen. Blank plot sheets when you are firing are handy to write down your score and scope settings when you are done shooting (you can download free plot sheets for printing at home from the North State Shooting Club website).
Oh yes, before I forget where are your earmuffs and/or your plugs? Do you have spares? Particularly plugs. What if you left your muffs in the car? Always keep spare plugs in you rifle case or stool. Take them to the pits! Speaking of a shooting stool, they are always nice to have. You can put your miscellaneous items in it and have a place to sit to boot. Don’t forget your hat and always wear glasses while shooting. Side blinders to fit on your glasses are always handy to keep the sun out of your eyes. How much time do you have to shoot? Don’t you think a stopwatch of some kind would be nice to have on occasion?
If it rains, keep the following as dry as you can in this order: ammo, rifle, scorecard, yourself and then the rest of your gear. To keep your ammo, rifle and scorecards dry while shooting I suggest a thin sheet of clear plastic big enough to cover your riflescope from front to back (see the example pictured at the top of this article). This sheet plastic is available in many fabric stores including Wally World on long rolls 36 inches wide. Cut the plastic so it covers the scope/action area and off the sides to keep your ammo/score sheets dry. I put Velcro on my scope and stock to hold it in place and tuck it under my ammo box to hold in place. The other side I use my clipboard. You will need to experiment with your setup ahead of time.
Many F-Class shooters use their riflescope to score with, in some cases this is not possible, so a spotting scope is another item you should have. Since we are accumulating a lot of stuff, some of which is pretty heavy, it would be very nice to have a cart of some kind to haul it around. I prefer the “fold-it” cart, as do many shooters, but there are many foldable lightweight carts available from about $50 up. Additionally, sunblock of some kind is a needed item that is often forgotten.
If your range has pits with pulled targets, you should have work gloves and perhaps a large diameter (5/8-inch) piece of rope five to six feet long with knots in it to help pull the target down and up. Always wear a hat and glasses in the pits to shade your eyes from spindle spatter in case one gets hit.
As you can see, there are many things you need to consider prior to shooting your first match. Even if you forget something, just have fun and shoot. Next time, we will discuss how to set up and arrange your gear to achieve better scores.
Photos by NightForce Optics