I really do think the coat thing is a Red Herring.
The 'Gimp' multi coloured Olympic jackets stand out but it would be difficult to tell how much more support they gave compared to very similar black leather jackets or heavy cotton/canvas ones.
In HFT you are taking 1 shot out of 30 free standing. Most shots are taken HFT style prone.
So with 2000 quid target rifles being used with several hundred quid scopes and target gloves and target butt plates ... and in HFT prone ( most shots ) the target glove on the floor, forearm on the floor, target butt tested on the ground ( usually under the armpit ... so no proper contact with shoulder ) ... I really don't see what advantage a Gimp jacket would have compared to any heavy jacket.
It may even cause you a problem in HFT as often these Gimp jackets/suits are designed to be very restricting and make the shooter shoot in exactly the same position each time. That's quite useless in HFT as you often have to get into different positions to accomodate the shot.
I'm not sure what the graph is actually showing? It shows that in recent years there is a drop in the numbers of different shooters shooting UKAHFT Nationals. The totals at each National shoot remains high. I think this shows that there is now a hardcore of HFT shooters ( probably 150ish ) that are dedicated to shooting the Nationals ... and most of these pre book and do the circuit. So you get mainly the same group of people travelling the country to do the Nationals.
No doubt this will include the very best of HFT shooters like James etc. It will also include quite a high percentage of shooters who aren't the best HFT shooters but enjoy doing the circuit and meeting old friends etc. I'm certain it's fair to say that the 200 odd shooters that do the UKAHFT Nationals are not the best 200 odd HFT shooters in the country.
In my small club alone, of about 15 shooters or so, there are shooters who would score well in the Nationals, but they choose not to shoot them. There are many more excellent shooters ( incl. springermen ) that shoot comps like the Midlands and do not shoot the Nationals.
I think it's also fair to say that 200 shooters is a small percentage of the number of people who shoot HFT in the UK ( mainly to UKAHFT regs ). I would expect the total number of active HFT shooters to be many fold that 200.
This then supports my point that when a non UKAHFT National HFT shooter makes a comment about the sport they love, it's not a valid reply to say ... " When was the last time you shot a UKAHFT National ? " or something similar. There is no shooting ability qualifying level to be able to shoot these events. You fill in a form and you're in. Decisions made re the Nationals cascade down and affect every HFT shooter that shoots to UKAHFT rules.
It may be similar with BFTA where plenty of quality FT shooters don't do the major events?
Hence my comments earlier about the trend to try and discourage non main event or non top shooters from being involved in discussions on the internet about rules, positions etc. The decisions on rules, positions etc, will affect hundreds or thousands of shooters that you won't see at the main events.
If someone is just being a c@ck and saying FT or HFT is sh1te etc then flame them down ... even a short holiday. If someone has an opinion, but it isn't the same as the top shooters, or they don't attend the big events, it doesn't mean they shouldn't have that opinion or at least be heard and advised in a civilised manner.