Companies like AA and BSA and Daystate and Falcon and Webley and Weihrauch etc etc mass produce(d) those rifles for a world market that mainly includes plinkers, fun shooters and hunters.
A very very small percentage of that market chose to shoot HFT ... and used those rifles. At that point those companies weren't producing rifles for the HFT market ... just a world market.
It's sort of my point. People did perfectly well with basic S400's that they added a hamster to and maybe spent 50 quid getting the cheekpiece made adjustable and maybe 20 quid on an adjustable buttpad. Some put actions in custom stocks from Ginb etc. A base gun of 400 quid would get people going, and up to a decent level, in HFT. An extra 150 quid and you'd got a gun that could clear any HFT course.
With respect, you don't really need a £900 or £2000 top end target rifle to knock down a 35mm kill at 45 yards with your front arm rested on the floor, front gloved hand rested on the floor, front of rifle rested on that gloved hand and butt of rifle rested on the floor.
The better shooters ( and those with plenty of spare cash ) chose to start using top end target rifles as they wanted every last percentage of advantage to try and win comps. It's what happens in sport.
I remember back in 2001/2 the old FT lads laughing when they saw the HFT guys shooting their standard hunting rigs and hunting scopes. They said then that it would turn into a kit war just like FT did and people would end up using expensive rifles and scopes. They were right.
The sport would have probably continued to do perfectly well if a cap of say £600 would have been put on rifles/accessories and a cap on scopes. The same blokes would still be winning comps. Lesser shooters would still be missing targets for the same reasons.
When the companies like AA and BSA realised there was a little corner of the market that they could target ( they saw HFT filling National shoots, filling World shoots and getting coverage in the mags and on the internet sites ) they took basic actions ( as you say ) and put them in adjustable stocks ( although AA's HFT500 had no hamster ) tweaked them a bit and put a tag of £900 on them.
I think it's allowing yourself a bit of imagination to say that HFT wouldn't be around without those companies producing those basic rifles. They didn't make them for you ... they made them for a world market. You just used them for your sport ... and paid for them. It's a bit like saying the welly wanging championships should be grateful to the companies that make wellies ... without those companies the welly wanging championships wouldn't take place. I wonder if they ever took a £20 pair of wellies ... had " Welly Wanger Special " printed on the side and charged £45?
To be fair, if someone wants to be a serious and dedicated HFT shooter that attends the Nationals series, the Worlds and a winter series of shoots, then the cost of a rifle, spread over @ 3 years, compared to other costs is quite low. A couple of tins of pellets a week for practising and shooting comps. Travel to and from shoots. B&B stays. A 900 quid rifle over 3 years costs 300 a year and you would then get probably 500 quid for it second hand. So it's cost you 400 for 3 years ... @ 130 quid a year. Pellets, fuel, entrance fees and B&B will come to many many times that.