FT or HFT     by Roger Barrow

What's all that about then?

FT and HFT are simply different 'codes' of air gun shooting. Both share many, many common features but each has some important distinct aspects. Think Rugby League and Rugby Union and you'll get the idea.

Just as Proper Rugby and Rugby Union share many features (posts, the ball etc) so HFT and FT have many common features as well as key differences.

Common Features

  • Competitors must follow a strict safety code.
  • No rifles to be loaded until addressing the target
  • All rifles used must comply with the UK legal limit for air guns i.e. under 12 ft/lb
  • One shot is taken at a metal 'knock-down' target usually 30 targets make up a course of fire
  • These targets feature a 'kill-zone' which when struck causes the target to fall and a 'face plate' with a hole for the kill-zone
  • Selected targets must be shot from a prescribed shooting position (e.g. standing) this may be forced by terrain / obstructions, or dictated  by a sign at the firing point
  • Each competitor shoots each target once and the competitor with the highest total score wins!
  • Skilful shooters with excellent technique usually win

Key differences

HFT Hunter Field Target

  • Targets set out from 10-45 yards
  • Shooting aids not allowed (windicators, deep stocks etc)
  • No scope adjustment permitted once the competition has started
  • Any position allowed except sitting prone is the most common position
  • Bean bags not allowed to be used for gun / shooter support only as knee protection
  • Targets are of air gun quarry (rabbits, rats, squirrels etc) or of abstract shape (circles, squares, diamonds)
  • 2 points for a 'kill', 1 for a face plate strike

FT Field Target

  • Targets set out from 10-55 yards
  • Shooting aids allowed
  • Competitors may use their scope to 'range find' the range to the target
  • Any position allowed sitting is the most common position
  • Beans bags allowed for gun / shooter support
  • Targets are of abstract shape (circles, squares, diamonds)
  • 2 points for a 'kill' nothing for a face plate strike

Which is best?

A bit like the two codes of rugby each discipline has its passionate advocates who will maintain their sport is far better than the other. At the end of the day it's a matter of personal choice.

HFT is designed to closely mirror air gun hunting scenarios and requires more judgment by eye. Due to the prone position there's a greater chance of getting muddy thus competitors tend to wear 'camo' clothing. HFT is also more accessible - i.e. a respectable score is possible with virtually any standard of air rifle of any calibre, although the leading shooters all use .177.

FT is more technical and demands a minimum standard of gun and scope to compete effectively. In view of the greater distances involved all shooters use .177 calibre rifles and to facilitate range finding larger, more expensive, scopes with large side wheels are favoured. As competitors tend not to use the prone position and don't get muddy they are more likely to wear specialist shooting jackets etc.

Both disciplines feature in club competitions, regional competitions and national series. Trying both at club level and deciding which is best for you is the only way for you to settle the argument whichever you chose, practice is more important than what you use to compete.

Above all shoot safely, follow the rules and have fun!