Here’s how I fabricated a bipod to improve long range accuracy in F-Class competition.
by Glen Calvert
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I’ve been using a basic, run of the mill, bipod for many years. It has spring loaded legs that are adjustable for height along with rubber feet. It works okay on the bench or prone if the ground is level but it does not have an adjustment for cant and the legs aren’t the most stable design. I wanted something that was more solid with greater height adjustment capability to use for long range shooting.
I started researching bipods and found there are several types that vary in design and price. Some are very pricey. Many raised the height of the bipod by moving the legs inward, narrowing the stance of the legs. These did not appeal to me; I liked the designs where the width of the legs stayed constant and the height was adjusted by extending the legs vertically. The more complex designs were intended for F-Class competition. I shot in F-Class a few times many years ago but did not have the rifle or experience to do so seriously. After reviewing the various models, I decided to design and build my own bipod based on the features in some of the bipods that are available commercially. The design allows the rifle to be adjusted for cant and has a fine adjustment for elevation.
F-Class, sometimes referred to as “belly benchrest”, originated in the 1990s and is named after Canadian shooter George Farquharson (the “F” in F-Class) who promoted a prone shooting match that almost everyone could handle regardless of physical capability. Using a front and rear rest to support the rifle instead of a tight sling made it less demanding physically as well. F-Class also allows magnifying optics to help aging eyes. The NRA defines F-Class as “a modification of High Power prone shooting, not as a form of bench rest and should not be construed as such”. So maybe don’t refer to it as “belly benchrest” at a match.
F-Class has two divisions, F-Open and F-TR (Target Rifle). F-Open is the most popular mainly because of the latitude in cartridges permissible, only limited to a maximum caliber of .35. The max weight of the rifle including scope and bipod is 10 kilograms/22 pounds. An adjustable front rest (like that used in Benchrest competition) is permitted along with a rear bag. “Rail guns” and similar mechanical means to return to the precise point of aim are not permitted.
The F-TR division is limited to just two cartridges, being unmodified 223 Remington and unmodified 308 Winchester much like Palma competition. The maximum rifle weight for F-TR is 8.25 kg/18 lbs. including the weight of the scope and bipod. In F-TR only a bipod is allowed on the front and it must be attached to the rifle. A rear bag is permitted. NRA F-Class rules are included in the High Power Rule Book (Section 22) available for free download at Rulebooks.NRA.org.
F-Class competition distances can range from 300 to 1000 yards but are most typically 800 to 1000 yards. The actual diameter of the target rings vary with distance as follows. The X-ring is 0.5 MOA diameter, the 10 ring is 1.0 MOA, the 9 ring is 2 MOA, etc. At 1000 yards the X ring is only 5” in diameter, the 10 ring is 10”, the 9 ring is 20”, etc. The ring diameters are spelled out in the NRA rules. The F-Class competition initially started with the standard mid-range (MR) and long range (LR) targets with 1 MOA X-rings, 2 MOA 10-rings, however, these proved to be too easy for skilled marksmen and the ring diameters were reduced by half. These targets are referred to as MR-FC and LR-FC. Courses of fire are typically 10 to 20 rounds at each of three distances. Bolt guns are used almost entirely but a few shooters use semi-autos.
I decided that I wanted my bipod to…
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