Hunter Field Target (HFT) is a target shooting sport derived from the air gun disciplines of field target shooting and hunting. Primarily an outdoor sport, shot with UK legal air rifles (rated at a maximum of 12 ft/lb) a typical HFT course is made up of 30 lanes, with each lane comprising of a peg and a metal “knock down” target placed in a position to simulate a hunting scenario. The peg marks the shooting spot and the shooter must touch the peg with part of his or her body or gun for the shot to count.
The targets are mainly based on typical UK based quarry such as rabbit, cow, crow, magpie and grey squirrel. They are made from metal and mimic their counterparts both in shape and size.
Each target has a circular “kill zone” that varies in size (typically 15-45mm in diameter) and are set out at varying ranges (typically 8-45 yards). A direct hit to the “kill zone” triggers mechanism that makes the target fall back flat simulating a “kill”. Successfully “killing” a target rewards you with two points and the target must then be reset by pulling the reset cord. “Plating” a target (hitting the target anywhere except the “kill zone”) rewards you with one point. Missing the target altogether results in a zero score for that shot.
The main skill in HFT is the ability to range the target as accurately as possible. Ranging is either done using the traditional method of “visualising” the number of yards separating you from the target, or more scientifically by using a telescopic sight fitted with a mil-dot reticule but also a 30/30 reticule. There is no dialling in for range finding, this is the domain of the normal field target discipline.
When shooting, contestants may adopt one of three stances; prone (laying down), kneeling or standing. Sometimes contestants will be forced to adopt a certain stance, for instance a lane that has a “STANDING ONLY” sign must be shot from the standing position. If the shooter fails to follow this rule, the score for that target will be marked as a zero, even if was “plated” or “killed”
A typical HFT rifle set-up consists of an air rifle fitted with a telescopic sight. The rifle can vary from the very basic break-barrel spring-powered rifle to the most advanced electronic recoil-less pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) rifle. The most popular calibre for HFT is .177 because of its flat trajectory and telescopic sights capable of x10 magnification are favored.
HFT does not discriminate to what rifle or scope is used, A rifle could be a Chinese spring or pneumatic rifle with Chinese optics or the very latest Field Target rifle with the most expensive scope.
Participants of HFT are separated by class, and it is primarily the equipment used that will affect the class shooters shoot in:
Any shooter. Primarily contains shooters using pre-charged pneumatic rifles in .177 or .20 calibre
Junior Shooters aged between 9 and 16 (2 classes 9 to 13 & 14 to 16)
Spring-powered or gas-ram air rifles (any calibre)
Any rifle in .22 or .25 calibre
The United Kingdom competition side of HFT has no official controlling body but there are three distinct HFT disciplines being practiced in the UK today.
United Kingdom Association for Hunter Field Target (UKAHFT)
When a club hosts a UKAHFT round, it must adhere to various strict rules controlling the format of the course. The main rules for a UKAHFT round are:
Target “kill zones” must be 15mm to 45mm in diameter.
Targets must not be placed closer than 8 yards or further than 45 yards
15mm targets must be set at a range of between 13 and 25 yards
20mm targets must be set at a range of between 8 and 30 yards
25mm targets must be set at a range of between 8 and 40 yards
All shots are taken from the peg and all kills must be visible from the peg
There is one unsupported kneeler and one unsupported stander, these are called positional shots.
The Masters rules are slightly different from the current UKAHFT rules, making this discipline more challenging that the current UKAHFT rules.
The main differences are there are three standing shots which are also unsupported and will be at ranges between 20 yards and 35 yards and the combined distance of all three standing shots will not exceed 80 yards. There are also three kneeling shots which are also unsupported and will be at ranges between 20 yards and 35 yards and the combined distance of all three kneeling shots will not exceed 80 yards.
Hunter Rules Field Target (HR FT)
Hunter Rules Field Target is a perfect format for all airgun clubs and Sunday plinkers out there, and this is the format Meon Valley have followed as a club for 25 years.
HR FT is based on the original hunting format started in Hampshire in 1991 (see video) and has been formulated by many clubs over the last 20 years to give club shooters a realistic scenario to match a real life vermin hunting experience.
The main difference between the other two formats is there are no clear shots from the peg to the target. You shoot the targets as you find them, twigs and all and you usually need to stretch away from the peg to get your shot, just like you would in a real hunting situation. I’ve never seen a bunny yet, that would stay still while you knocked in a peg, then pulled out your strimmer and cleared a path so you had a clear shot!
The other main differences are there are only two kill sizes, 25mm and 40mm. But all 40mm kills out to 35 yards can be obscured by 50%, so depending on the course setters skill, this can be the most challenging of all three formats.
“HR FT is a real world, down and dirty in the mud hunting format, which is perfect to hone those vermin hunting skills” Davy Thomas – VerminHunters TV