To Rest or Not to Rest…

This has nothing to do with your body’s requirements for physical sleep before a match. Needless to say you should be well rested for any competition you plan on shooting. What I’m talking about here is what you have decided in the way of how you’re going to shoot your f-class rifle.

We f-class types aren’t like the TR folks who actually hand hold their rifles with a sling which gets attached to their shooting jacket and the jacket attaches to the shooter. Heck most folks shooting f-class don’t even wear jackets. I mean all that constriction, the sweating in a leather jacket or even a jacket made out of some other type of material or fabric that they say breathes but you know that’s not going to happen, right?. The decisions about the colours in the jacket, having to decide on going with buckles, snaps or Velcro. What size to get and will it fit you after you’ve been on several eating binges. A size 42 can only stretch so far as some no doubt some have found out but we’ll be leaving out naming names! The cost of the jacket alone is enough to flip some people right out. There are exceptions to the rule. I wear one and I happen to shoot f-class so does that make me some kind of geek, just plain weird or what? I’m not going to get into a discussion on why I do other than it makes me feel good.

So what have you decided?

There’s only two setups in common usage that I’m familiar with. The first is a bipod. There’s a number of bipods in the marketplace. Actually there’s a whole pile of them. I own one and only one. I started with one, btw mine’s a Harris because I when I first got back into the game I was shooting a bunch of service rifle matches with a match AR-15. You know the black rifle, the one everybody who doesn’t target shoot, the non-firearm types who have no idea of what we do, couldn’t take the time to find out but are quick to pass judgment and gets their knickers into a twist over. Services rifles matches and maybe even precision type matches don’t really lend themselves to using rests by the design of the course of fire. I don’t see them changing the course of fire any time soon either. Seems some though have plenty of time to criticize what other folks on the dark side shoot on top of. The word operational seems to be the buzz word in these disciplines. They got not time to be hauling heavy rests to the line. A bipod is cheap when compared to some types of rests especially the one I’m using or talking about let’s just leave it at that. There’s a bunch of bipod types that shoot open f-class in many of the matches I’m in. I know these guys and that’s exactly what they do concentrate on the shooting part!

If you think you’re going to end up shooting off a rest well great then maybe I can give you a few things to think about. I had plenty of reasons for getting the Farley some of the reasons are outlined below and don’t forget this one. I got it because I needed something that would work and I didn’t have time to screw around making a pile of decisions over whether it was going to work or not, it works! I got enough decisions right now on the loading bench. I didn’t need to be adding to them. Also I had funds put away for this area. We can do that sometimes you know. Especially if there’s no wife lurking in the background. Hah. Buy that one?

There are probably more different types of shooting rests in the marketplace than there are different bipods. That’s the nature of our society we want choice! Great so you still have to make a decision on what you’re going to ultimately get and I knew you’d like this point! The whole idea of putting your rifle on a rest is to make it stable, rock solid stable otherwise you might as well shoot it TR style. Hoppes and stability are simply two words that should not coexist in the same sentence. Oh I know you frugal types are just itching to jump right in here with the “why not”! Just hold onto that thought a minute.

Weight and stability on the other hand can be used in the same sentence. In fact they should be! If you’re looking for a rest the lighter it is the less stable it’s going to be. I’ll huff and puff and I’ll blow your house down? Also the more spread out it is the better the stability.

I might as well start at the top and work down. A rest of this nature is mostly compromised due to budget so I’ll talk about it first cause you’ve already decided based on cost alone. The Farley I use has a number of things going for it. First it’s heavy like most good rests and then maybe a little more. It has a wide horizontal platform, maybe a little more so than the Sinclair, Harts or Bald Eagle rests. You can quickly bring it to the line, just like any of the others. It’s quick and easy to rough into position and setup. Now comes the difference part. You can adjust both the vertical and horizontal position by touching just one adjustment feature. Wow! It’s a joystick that you move up or down and left or right, simple enough to operate. If you can move a mouse you can move a joystick. If you are a person with short arms you’ll love this rest because you don’t have to reach out in two plains to adjust two different knobs or wheels. I don’t know about you but most shooters I see on the line when they reach forward to adjust any rest they end up getting themselves out of position. The same is true for reaching forward to adjust the focus bell on quite a number of scopes. With side focus you don’t get out of position when adjusting that. Of course it’s a given that someone’s going to pooh-pooh side focus scopes. I feel another article in the brew and I haven’t even finished this one. You’ll find two plain adjustments with most windage rests and even the ones that don’t have windage tops can also force you out of position. The joystick is right underneath just forward of your trigger guard area nice and convenient to get to. The stick itself has a kink built right into it so you can angle it left or right. When you finish dialing in a conventional rest you have to lock it in place or risk some type of movement somewhere in the mechanism and sure as there’s little green apples you won’t notice somethings loose until you shoot that magpie, then by golly you’ll get cracking on finding what’s loose. Not so with the Farley you take your hand off the joystick and it stays where you left it, until you touch the joystick again. We’re talking heavy rifles here too folks not the featherweights. The ones that are a pound under official limits or should I say a few ounces?

The Farley Co-axial rest has of course under gone improvements and naturally the Co-axial II came out two weeks right after I bought the first version, no kidding two weeks later. I didn’t find out until almost the second season of use. I’ve looked into it and will probably upgrade my Farley top. When? Well like anything that’s in demand and short supply only time will tell. The rest in its present condition has been working fine for me. I did have some initial movement problems but it was dealt with by Farley Inc. They actually listen to what shooters have to say about their products. Since then Butch Lambert has also come up with a great solution. Samples are shown. The problem is non-existent in the Co-Axial IIs. You can make a I into a II by swapping out the top for about 100 US… Jamey tells me the retro isn’t easily done without some internal knowledge of the unit and probably specialty tools. Dunno haven’t looked into it. I can do oil changes and I know how to use duck tape so maybe. The bottom of the Farley unit is a wide horizontal “heavy” steel plate. It was designed with benches in mind. You may be inclined to think, now how’s that going to work on our f-class firing line? Great if you put a little thought into modding it. The rest when shipped comes with 3 screws with hardened points that screw into each of the three projecting horizontal legs. The length of these screws is about 3 inches… so you get some threaded rod with the right threads and the right diameter and make longer ones. Longer is better because you can shorten them if you find them too long. If they’re too short you’re going to do this job twice. You can also get various knobs at Home depot. I don’t know if Cambodian Tire carries them, they might. I used the “T” type knobs for mine and in hindsight the round ones might be better because we rubber mallet boyz hammer our rests into position on the firing line, that stability thang again. Now rubber mallets I know you can definitely get those at Cambodian Tire. They do go on sale for half price. Ask me how I know that!

F-Class feet
Once you’ve removed the original points and screwed in the new ones you might think hmm there’s no sharp points on the other end that’s going to touch the ground and in fact if they touch the ground because of the weight they’re going to sink right down into it. This is where Sinclair’s f-class feet come into the picture, You just screw them onto your newly made screws simple. The feet are shown here and what you can’t see is the cone shaped points on the bottom. I didn’t take this picture with that in mind but I’m sure you have an idea. With this setup you’ve now got plenty of adjustment for the uneven surfaces of the firing line. Rough in your rest on the firing line, tap the tops of each of the knobs and get behind the rifle to fine tune and then shoot your Vees, Xs to some of my friends! Right on!

Okay enough of the Farley… the price point is going to freak-out a bunch of you so it’s time to move onto the other options.

Bald Eagle has a wish bone type rest. I saw Roy Ginn using one towards the end of 2006. Well actually it was more of I “heard” Roy using one on the line beside me. I didn’t learn any new words but I heard a few I knew repeated more than once. Last time I checked Roy had worked most of the bugs out of using it. The Bald Eagle isn’t as wide as it is long but I don’t think there’s any stability issues with it. Roy’s issue turned out to be height of the rear bag. Roy solved the issue. Is he shooting better? Check his scores, be watching him come spring ‘07 let me tell you! Actually this is a bit twisted... Roy was actually using a Cadwell rest. It looks very similar to the Bald Eagle on cursory examination which mean I wasn’t really looking I guess. The curved front legs threw me off! Doesn’t take much to throw me off, especially at the 1000 yard line which was where we were. Roy is a great competitor and he can help you in many ways. I remember the time he helped show me the right way to lace up my boots. I had them laced up weird like I suppose. Anyway Roy showed me the right way. Heck before this I didn’t even lace my boots up period just to piss off Bob Pastor! Bob said if I’d lace my boots up I’d gain an automatic 10 points. Been lacing them up ever since!

RW Hart makes a rest, a bunch of them actually, don’t know anyone using it so I don’t know what kind of retro is involved.

Now we come to the
Sinclair line of rests. I suppose the cream de la cream of what’s seen on the line, as in more of them than anything else. Price point might have a lot to do with the numbers but I will say, it’s a pretty stable rest and that’s exactly what you want. It has three projecting legs so you know it’s going to sit on a firing point well, just like a 3-legged stools sits on a floor. You just need to add the Sinclair f-class feet and you’re good to go.

There are numerous tops for many of the rests. Some are fixed and some have windage adjustments. Fixed would be good for f-class and one less knob to adjust. Most of the ones I’ve seen are fixed and left to right adjustment is done with the rear bag. Hundreds of guys are using them.

All of these rests come directly from short range benchrest, then a lot of them ended up in 1000 yard benchrest rest and they’ve since made a U-turn to f-class. Most any of them will require some type of mods or retros for our discipline limited only by your creativity and the needs of the way you shoot your f-class. Such things as mounting spirit levels on the rest of your choice. On the picture of the Farley you can see a bulls-eye target type spirit level. I positioned mine further out on the left foot and I just didn’t glue it down. I was coming back from spending a pile of money at Camp Perry in Ohio. I was only going there to cheer on... read harass some of the guys I shoot with who were in a competition there. On the way home actually both coming and going I stayed at Tom Maynards place and Tom because he was in an extremely good mood before his accident milled out a depression on the left leg that fitted the diameter of the the circular level and then I glued it in place. Tom really did it because he didn’t want to listen to my bitching about it anymore. Tom did a very nice job so thanks Tom! Hope that knee of yours is back to normal.

You need a rear bag with any rest and rear bags is pretty personal and there’s no end to them. The only recommend I will make is consider Cordura over leather for the ears. It’s easier to track your stock when the rain comes pouring down on you. it’s not a question up here in Canada about if it rain’s it’s only a question when. If you shoot a lot it happens more. I’m sure it rains in the US and other parts of the world. I guess the only place where you might have some immunity is Arizona! Man I would love to shoot some matches there. I read about them all the time but just don’t have the funds right now or mostly the time. Some day... it’s on the list of places though. It’s a given that the bag in the front rest is Cordura too.