Rifles At Paces

(Continued from page 23)

purposes. The inner was 7 feel, and the "magpie 11 feet. Two of us cut down some nearby trees for flagstaffs, which were placed at intervals up the range for wind flags. Until we had some money in the kitty after the first shoot, we borrowed the flags, also, from other ranges!

Six of us took part in the first Match Rifle shoot in 1956. None of us had ever fired at a greater distance than 1,200 yards before, and certain novel problems presented themselves. The height of the targets was such that, even when lowered, the markers could not reach their upper parts to patch up shot holes or put in spotting discs, unless they used a ladder, which would expose them above the mantlet! Spotting discs and wind flags had to be large enough to be seen from over a mile distance; and telephone line had to he run out from the 1,000 yards telephone point, the furthest one in working order. A couple of wirelesses were also used.

On the first day, there was a strong wind blowing on to the face of the targets. This caused great strain on them, and the markers had a real struggle lifting them up and down. As a result of this, it was decided to leave the targets up the whole time and lash their tops to the ground to take the strain caused by the wind. The markers were provided with long poles, with a brush and spotting disc attached at the end, with which they were able to patch up shot holes and signify their position at the same time. When a target was challenged for a hit, which could not be seen by the marker, bolts were opened, and a couple of markers ran along I lie top of the mantlet, inspected the great target at close quarters, and ran back again.

After varying fortunes in somewhat blustery weather, we concluded shooting at 1,700 yards after lunch on the second day. At this distance, our highest score was 41x50 in 10 shots, and our lowest score was 34. We were all keen to go back further, and although there were no more firing points, we decided to move hack to a hillock at 1,800 yards. But had then- not been a shot nearby at Montrose at 1.800 yards with muzzle loaders in the year 1860V It was high time in Scotland to go one better! So up we got and dug ourselves in instead at the next mound, which happened to be at 1,900 yards.

We had difficulty in getting on to the target at this great distance. For about ten minutes we drew blank, and tried various elevation rises on our sights, and various extra allowances for wind over that required at 1,700 yards. In the end, we found it was the wind which we had misjudged. The flags looked much the same as at 1,700 yards, but, in spite of the extra 200 yards distance to our surprise we found we needed less allowance than at 1.700 yards.

Our scores at 1,900 yards did not look very good on paper. The highest was 31x50, and the lowest was 18. None of us had kept all our shots on the target. But our appetites had been whetted, and given easier weather and more experience, we were sure we could do better at 1,900 yards and longer distances. We decided to attempt 2.100 yards next year and thereby hold what had never been held before—an individual competition at a distance greater than 2,000 yards.

In the spring of 1957. a bulldozer was borrowed once more, and we managed to complete firing points from 1,800 back to 2,100 yards. In addition it was decided to add side wings to the targets, for in 1956 we had had many shots just clipping the target's edge and many of our misses were suspected to have gone to the right or left. With wings attached, the target became 22 feet wide.

It was a mixed, if not colorful, bunch of marksmen who forgathered for the second great shoot at Barry, in August, 1957: for Scotland, a Chartered Accountant and his daughter (the first woman who has ever shot in the Elcho Match), a Canon of the Church, a distinguished Civil Servant from the Air Ministry, and the writer, a serving officer in the Black Watch: for England, a Member of the House of Lords, a retired Rear Admiral, a retired Wing Commander, and two Solicitors. Match Rifle shooting certainly appeals to all types of people!

The weather was fine, and all of us had our eyes and minds on that 2,100 yard firing point. This was our Ultima Thüle, our Everest. Here we had an opportunity to achieve what had never been done in rifle shooting history before. But we had to get there by degrees. We knew the theoretical rises in the minutes of angle required for distances up to 2,000 yards, but in Match Rifle shooting, theory doesn't always work out in practice. In addition, the wind had to be mastered, and we remembered what a nonsense we had made of it at 1.900 yards last year.

So, after a few practice shots to get on the target at 1.300, we started off at 1.500 yards. Then we went back three hundred yards to 1,800, where for the first time we used the wings of the target. So far, so good. We had averaged over 41x50 at 1,500 yards, with one score of 47 and a low one of 30; and we had averaged 34 out of 50 at 1,800 yards. We were still using the 4 foot 6 inch bull's-eye, which is the same size as the inner ring on the Bisley target at 900 yards, and which was originally only intended as a suitable size of a bull's-eye for up to 1,400 yards! Would we ever stay on the target, let alone the bull, at 2,100 yards, three hundred yards further back? Some of tlie pundits at Bisley had said that we would never do it. or if we did it would only be a fluke.

Two things were certain. It would be a thrill if we could make a reasonable showing at 2,100 yards, and a bitter disappointment if we couldn't. The targets were now 22 feet across, but they were still only 10 feet high, and this height subtends only 5% minutes of angle at 2.100 yards—not enough to make us over-confident!

Nevertheless, we settled down on the 2,100 yard firing point. The wind, though changeable, was not a strong one, and, coming from 11 o'clock, did not appear to require more than about a dozen minutes allowance. Having spent 20 minutes or so trying to get on to the target at 1,900 yards in 1956. we were astounded and delighted to hit the target at 2,100 yards right from the start. Much credit for this must go to the Admiral, who (now that we were approaching nautical distance) produced numerous graphs and calculations for elevation rises and wind allowances, not to mention a common household tape-measure for checking the length of our sight bases and the number of minutes of angle per inch on our sights. It was simple

The first shot down the range at 1,900 yards, fired by the lady of the party, was a bull's-eye, dead straight for direction! She proceeded to make the highest score at this distance of 34x50 points, including one miss; a very creditable performance in such a wind. The corrected wind allowance required went up to about 36 minutes, the equivalent of 60 feet, at one period in the shoot, and down to about 22 minutes at another period. In spite of this, we did better at this distance than the previous year. The writer managed to keep his two sighting shots and all 10 record shots on the target, and was indeed encouraged. Our lowest score was 18x50 points, including four misses.

Due to certain delays, there was not time to attempt all three distances, and so, after 1,900 yards, we moved straight back to 2,100, where we fired 15 shots to count instead of 10 as originally planned. The wind, although still blowing across the range, had now dropped in strength considerably and required allowances varying from 15 to 30 minutes. Allowance had to be made for the difference that a cross wind at this great distance made on one's elevation as compared with that required on the previous day when the wind was blowing up the range. We all needed about 7 minutes less elevation.

On the whole, we fared better at 2,100 yards on the second day than on the first. On the first day, we had 35 misses out of 90 shots fired. On the second day, there were only five more misses out of 135 shots fired, of which 17 shots fell in the 4 foot 6 inch bull's-eye, and 26 in the 7 foot inner ring. Our misses invariably came in two's or three's at a time and the markers could give

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