I don't get to shoot as much as I'd like these days but I was quite active when UKAHFT started up some 10 years ago so here's my history lesson ...
10 years ago a bunch of guys who were airgun enthusiasts wanted a target sport that involved shooting at knock down targets but they wanted it to be different to FT. There's evidence on Youtube that it started well before that but I'm talking about the UKAHFT movement as we know it. They didn't want to use the sitting position and they didn't want to use the very expensive rangefinding scopes used in FT. So the initial main differences were no sitting and no rangefinding. The max target length was also reduced from 55 to 45 yards. Those rules have held fast to date. This new version of knock down target shooting quickly started to attract new shooters. Many of these shooters may have been from a hunting background and wanted to try the new sport that was much closer to the hunting type shooting that they did. It was a chance to meet regularly with like minded people and do some competitive shooting and enjoy each other's company.
Important to stress at this point that these were new shooters ... and not existing FT shooters.
As HFT gathered some momentum there were those in the FT world that may have felt threatened by it ( like the chap LD in that thread ) and they dismissed it as just being FT2, and predicted that it would just end up like FT with sitting and targets pushed further out, with competitors using top end kit and rangefinding scopes.
In the early days many used their hunting kit, and that included 0.22 and piston rifles. As it has natural evolved and become more competitive most of the serious HFT shooters do now use top end 0.177 pcp rifles and glass, but it has certainly kept it's own identity and has kept those main differences of no sitting and no rangefinding, and prone is the position used in most of the shots.
Lots of FT shooters had a try at HFT. A lot didn't like it because they were either physically restricted at shooting prone or just didn't want to shoot lying down in the mud so they gave it up and just shot FT. Others didn't like the idea of not being able to rangefind. Others probably just wanted to concentrate on one sport. Several FT shooters, as has been mentioned, found that they really liked it, and indeed excelled at it, and are now big names in the sport.
There hasn't been a split. In the early days there was plenty of bickering with shooters from both sides criticising the other. Lots of effort has gone on to convince everyone that we are all just air rifle shooters and thankfully most of the bickering has now stopped. There certainly hasn't been an exodus from FT to HFT as again has been stated above. HFT brought a whole lot of new shooters into target shooting and didn't poach the masses from FT.
So introducing HFT into the States will probably stir up some nervous reaction, as seen by LD, but it will actually just get more new shooters involved in air rifle target shooting sports.
Re your last question ... Sadly ( in my opinion ) piston shooters are very much a very small minority. Many started in the piston ( and 0.22 ) classes but found that to compete with the best you really did need to concentrate on 0.177 pcp. There does seem to be a trend where during winter, away from the main summer and serious winter HFT comps, a number of shooters, including ChrisC who has posted here, are having a go with a springer and enjoying it and no doubt shooting them well ... but for the serious comps it's virtually all pcp.
Hope that helped a little.
Last edited by skires; 7th August 2012 at 09:44 AM.