I have been going to more of my local NRA Mid-Range 3×600 matches in the past several months to test out rifles and loads. At the Mid-Range matches, there’s the mix of traditional sling shooters (both service and match rifle) and F-Class (F/TR and Open). What I have noticed is that it is not uncommon for F-Class shooters to be without a spotting scope.
Spotting scopes are technically not required kit for NRA High Power, but are virtually a necessity when it comes to being able to score (being able to read the scoring disc on the target when it is run up) and for the shooter to be able to see the shot spotter disc and make corrections.
For a traditional iron sight shooter, spotting scopes are also invaluable for wind reading (mirage).
Since F-Class is shot using scoped rifles, the shooter is already able to see the shot spotter disc and read wind/mirage through the primary optic of the rifle, thus negating the need to use a spotting scope while shooting the string of fire.
Of course, an F-Class shooter that does not have a spotting scope is in a bit of a pickle when it comes to scoring for other shooters. Granted, the match official may allow a scorer to get in position alongside the shooter with another scoped rifle. But for the most part, only one rifle should be on a given firing point during each relay.
My point for this post is to shed light on the trend of F-Class shooters overlooking spotting scopes as part of their kit. I was listening to a conversation between a couple of F-Class shooters at a recent match and how they remarked that they are still pondering on a spotting scope. One person remarked how they would use a spotting scope to pan the targets to watch other shooters and how their shots placed in order to get an idea on wind.
The bare minimum you need to shoot any rifle match is a rifle and ammo. But with all of the other supplementary gear (Empty Chamber Indicator, bipod / rest, range bag or cart, etc), I really think a spotting scope and scope stand should be near the top of the list, even with F-Class. Even if you are shooting a scoped rifle on the line and don’t need a spotting scope to observe the target for the shot spotter and the scoring discs, or to read mirage, a spotting scope will make you useful when you’re not shooting (scoring for the shooter; coaching).
TL;DR: Even if you shoot F-Class, get a spotting scope.