One of the more popular long range competitions today is "F" class. "F" class is a class of shooting originally developed by a Canadian target shooter named George Farquharson (The "F" stands for Farquharson). George's intent was multifaceted. He wanted to extend the competitive lives of target shooters who had trouble using iron sights as they aged. He wanted to encourage new shooters to get into long range competition. He wanted to see more developement of rifles and cartridges. More than anything else, he wanted to bring more fun and comraderie into the fullbore arena. With these goals in mind the original rules essentially allowed for any rifle, in any caliber, with any sight, fired from any sort of rest but from the prone position. This class still exists today as the "F" Open class.
From the outset there were three or four approaches to building and shooting in "F" class. One approach was to simply scope your favourite target rifle, whether a 308 or 223, and put a bipod on it and shoot. A second approach was to use a thousand yard BR rifle; slightly modified for firing prone from a rest or bipod. A third approach was to use a slightly modified varmint rifle using a fast twist barrel to shoot the higher BC bullets needed for long range competition. A fourth approach was to build what would be considered to be a "tactical" rifle and go that way.
It didn't take long until it was pretty well established that rifles built along BR lines were most likely to produce top scores. This doesn't mean that other rifle configurations couldn't be competitive; just that a BR type rifle, usually in 6BR or one of the 6.5mm cartridges was easiest to shoot well. With this being the case, it wasn't long before "F" class began to be split up into open and restricted classes. The open class stuck pretty well to the original template while the restricted class ( F/TR) mandated a lighter rifle in one of the two NATO chamberings; 5.56 (223 Rem) or 7.62 (308 Win).
If I wanted to build a winning "F" class rifle today, I would build a rifle in 6BR. I would use one of the Remington clone actions (Stillers are a good choice) or any good BR action and glue it into a McMillan stock which was comfortable to shoot from prone. I prefer to shoot from a rest rather than a bipod. I would make the rifle to weigh about 16 pounds including the scope which would be either a fixed 24x or one of the high powered variables.
If I wanted to be able to compete in the restricted class, I would build the same rifle but chamber it in 308.
If I wanted to start out gently (on my pocketbook), I would buy a Savage "F" class rifle in 6BR, put a scope on it, and start going to matches.
The course of fire for "F" class varies according to what the facilities allow. When I first started shooting "F" class (about fifteen years ago), I was fortunate enough to be able to shoot at a range which ran all the way from 300 to 900 meters and it was an educational experience to learn what my rifle did at the various distances. My first rifle was a 6.5x55 which I built on a Winchester Model 70 action and a McMillan stock. This rifle is still reasonably competitive although, as I said, I would build something different if I was starting out today.
Costs are what you make them. The bare rifle will run from 1000 to 4000 dollars depending on your approach. A scope will run from 300 to 2000 dollars. Bipod or rest from ten to 400 dollars. Surprisingly enough, you can be absolutely competitive spending at the bottom end. The wind is a great equalizer!
Today, I have a few rifles. Some are 308's (three of them), one is a 22/250, one 223, one 6BR, one 6.5x55, one 7x57, a 30/40 Krag, a 300 WSM, and a 30/06. I can do pretty well with any of them. I've never spent more than 800 dollars on a scope but do admire those big bucks Nightforce units!
I have some rifles for which I have two stocks. One stock is made to be fired from a rest while the other allows me to shoot prone with a sling.
Some clubs promote a factory rifle class and some will have a class geared toward hunting-type rifles. In general, a hunting rifle will simply get too hot when firing strings of from ten to twenty shots. In addition, the recoil will wear on you after a while. GD