An Interview with F/TR World Champion 2023: Hermann Rolfes

Tell us a little about your introduction to F Class and the start of your Bisley shooting career?

Although I grew up, as many kids do, shooting birds with my air rifle, my exposure to big bore shooting happened late in my life. I was introduced to the sport of F-Class by a friend who was a successful and respected shooter at the time. He commented that my personality would be perfectly suited to the sport and that I would enjoy it immensely. At the age of 44 and after my first visit to the range with him in 2012, I fell in love with the sport.

What is your equipment recipe used to dominate the F Class World Championship?

The key to my success in the F-Class World Championship (FCWC) and the preceding SA Open Championship did not lie in equipment alone. Having equipment that worked at world class accuracy and repeatability levels was a pre-requisite but the key to my success actually lay in the mind. The ability to cope with scoreboard pressure and not getting rattled by it, required a purposeful, focused and strong mind. The ability to recognize weather patterns and cycles and recalling previous conditions were also critical mind processes that resulted in solid wind calls.

I openly share my equipment specifications as these are not the secret to my success. My rifles are built on BAT model B

actions typically fitted with good quality 30” stainless steel barrels – I would recommend Krieger or Bartlein. The barrel twist is 1/10” as it perfectly suits the Berger 208 grain Long Range Hybrid Target bullet that I used in the SA Open and FCWC 2023. My barrels are fitted with locally manufactured barrel tuners to tighten the group after the full load development process was concluded. I used Vihtavuori N150 gun powder with Murom Competition primers in Lapua Palma cases to propel the bullet at 2620fps. I shoot off a Joypod front rest as it suits my shooting style and prefer a Nightforce Competition riflescope. I do not use a separate spotting scope on the mound. See some photos attached.

Share with us your mental game off and on the shooting mound and how you keep yourself focused.

Let’s talk on the mound first: It is important for me to have an ingrained pre-shot routine as it goes a long way to ease my mind through an organized and logic process for every shot – it also helps to avoid distraction and confusion. It is worthwhile to look at neighboring targets for shot placement as it is useful to note when competitors are over-reading or under-reading the conditions. However, it is very important NOT to look at the scores on neighboring targets as it cannot have a positive impact on my own wind calls and can only serve as negative feedback if, for example, I shoot a 4 while others seem to be shooting 5s.

Off the mound: One way of dealing with scoreboard pressure is to ignore it completely and thereby try to be purposefully unaware that I am in contention. This is not at all possible, as competitors and my friends always tell me exactly where I lie and who else is shooting well – I cannot be critical of their exuberance. For me, true fulfilment came when I could be aware of the scoreboard but still able to channel stress and negative thoughts out of my mind. Keeping myself busy with repeating small routines in the long periods between distances/relays helped to avoid being overcome with pressure and negative thoughts that so easily causes worry and stress. Idle chat with friends is fine but not in the 20 minutes before approaching the firing line.

If you can share one little detail, something you did different or an element that you implemented to give you the edge, what will that be?

I can do nothing about my competitor’s shot or score. I can only compete against the conditions and against my own abilities. Worrying about others cannot add a single point to my score!

What advice can you give fellow shooters or individuals thinking of joining Bisley shooting?

Start as soon as possible! F-Class long range target shooting is an awesome combination between precision, science and art. I love the indoor reloading as well as the outdoor part of the sport equally much. I find F-Class fraternity in South Africa to be very open with the sharing of information between us. It is easy to pick up the useful tips as most of us in F- Class are goods friends. Remember that it takes time and practice to learn to read conditions – this is the challenging part.

What are your plans in the next few years, leading up to the FCWC 2026 in England?

I would love to defend my title at Bisley, in England, in 2026. Hopefully I am spared and blessed to be competitive. For me, to compete at the home of our sport, is most definitely a bucket list item.