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Firearms, Long Range Target Shooting & Associated History

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“Of all our national pastimes, this is one which should be pursued for the sake only of the honourable distinction to be obtained, in excelling in an art, where both mental and physical gifts are developed.”

Anonymous author on match rifle shooting (1866)

Research Press

Military Marksmanship

For the soldier to take advantage of the advances in firearms technology, so musketry instruction needed to evolve to meet changing military tactics and capabilities. The following articles cover accounts of military marksmanship and informationon musketry instruction. A School of Musketry was established at Hythe, in Kent, in 1853; see Hythe School of Musketry for related articles.

  • Life in a Crimea Rifle Pit - First hand account of life in a rifle pit during the Crimean War [1855],
  • Chalons - The Camp - A brief comparative overview of the arming and training of the French and British soldier [1856].
  • 'Pickets' versus Bullets - Musketry instruction evolving to follow small arms development [1859].
  • Indian Mutiny Long Shots - Comment on the effect of shooting a fouled muzzle loading Enfield rifle, and on the effectiveness of long range volley fire on artillery crews [1859].
  • Long-Range Rifle Fire - An overview of the development of the rifle in British military service from 1680 to 1885, and the impact on long-range shooting [1885].

Life in a Crimea Rifle Pit

The following letter extract is reprinted from the Morning Chronicle (London), Monday 14 May 1855. It provides an interesting first hand account of life in a rifle pit during the Crimean War. Of particular note is the long range marksmanship with the newly issued Enfield rifle, together with comment on shooting in conjunction with a spotter whilst firing upon gunners.

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Chalons - The Camp

At present, in respect of arms and riflemen, England is in advance of the armies of the world. The Enfield rifle, in accuracy, workmanship, and general efficiency, is the best weapon carried by any soldier. Other arms are looming in the distance which will be to it what it was to Brown Bess. Indeed there seems no definite limit to projectile power. Whether the powers of man to use it will keep pace with its progress, will be the next problem. At present, man is up to the mark of the weapon - in fact, trained marksmen show an ability to shoot and hit at distances where, as a rule, the Enfield begins to fail in accuracy.

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'Pickets' versus Bullets

THE old regulation-musket, known in the army by the affectionate sobriquet of 'Brown Bess,' would sometimes, though not always, carry a bullet with a certain degree of precision about a hundred yards; but beyond that very moderate distance, no one, however expert, could make sure of hitting even a barn-door; the aim of the individual who pulled the trigger having very little to do with the direction taken by the projectile. We have lately had an opportunity of seeing a great many men trained to the use of the new arm; and it may interest the reader to learn something of the process by which the lad who has perhaps never fired a shot in his life, is converted into a more or less skilful rifleman.

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