By Mark V. Lonsdale – STTU
Based on a number of questions from shooters hoping to get into F-Class Target Rifle (F-TR) of Precision Rifle shooting, there is obviously some confusion floating around concerning rifles and calibers. One individual, who was shooting a 6.5 Creedmoor, thought that because he was on a bi-pod, not a tripod, he would be in F-TR. Not so. Another was tossing up between .243 Win. and 6.5, because that’s what the local gun shop “expert” told him. Again, a case of so called “experts” not reading the rules or being competitive shooters. If a shooter wants to learn about any form of competition, go to a local match and talk to the better informed serious shooters.
F-TR mid-range (600 yards) and PRS are both long range shooting events where a new shooter can have fun and gain a lot of experience with a relatively inexpensive rig (less than $1,500). But as with any precision shooting sport, if a shooter wants to do well at the national level, and is willing to put in the time and practice, then he or she is still going to need a custom purpose-built rifle with high-end optics. But keep in mind that the amount an aspiring champion invests in the rifle(s) is a fraction of what they will spend on practice ammunition, reloading equipment, travel to matches and entry fees. And I say rifles, plural, because F-TR, PRS Bolt Gun, and PRS Gas Gun all have different features and requirements.
F-TR and PRS Tactical were created so that law enforcement and military shooters could use their issued rifles to compete – therefore only .308 Winchester or 5.56 NATO / .223 Remington. Those are the only two calibers a shooter can shoot in F-TR or PRS Tactical. The additional requirements for FT-R include a bi-bod and a rear bag, but no tripods or muzzle brakes. Rounds are loaded singly in F-Class so a magazine is not required.
The top F-TR shooters are running custom built single shot bolt actions (Kelbly, Panda), heavy 30″+ barrels (Bartlein, Krieger), custom stocks such as the McMillan XiT, light target triggers (Timney, Jewell), high-end optics (Leupold, Night Force), and wide, purpose-built bi-pods (Phoenix Precision). So even in F-TR, an agency sniper rifle with a 22″ barrel will be up against an $8,000 custom F-TR rifle. But like me, you can still go out with your sniper rifle or varmint rifle, with factory Federal Match ammo, and gain some good experience reading wind at the mid-range 600 yard matches, plus have a great day shooting alongside like-minded individuals.
Custom built F-TR rifle belonging to one of the US Team
Sniper rifle built on a Rem 700 action with a 23″ Krieger barrel, McMillan M40A3 stock, and Leupold Mark 8 Scope, shooting factory Federal Gold Medal Match 168 & 175 grain SMKs
For PRS Tactical division, again, the rifle must be .308 Winchester or 5.56 NATO / .223 Remington. The heaviest projectile permitted in .308 Win. is 178 grains launched at no more than 2,800 fps; and for .223 Rem. it is 77 grains at no more than 3,000 fps. Rounds are loaded from the magazine in PRS, so detachable magazines are a necessity, and muzzle brakes are permitted. It is also not unusual to shoot over 100 rounds in a PRS match so an excellent day or two’s experience at multiple ranges.
Rem 700 .308 Win. action with McMillan A3-5 adjustable stock, Badger Ordnance trigger guard/detachable magazine, topped with a Leupold 4.5-14x scope.
These same limitations for bullet weight and muzzle velocity extend to PRS Light Gas Gun division (.223 Rem) and Heavy Gas Gun division (.308 Win.) There is also a Bolt Gun Production division in PRS where the rifle and scope combined cannot exceed $4,000. See precisionshootingseries.com for all the rules.