Military Marksmanship History

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By the early 19th century, the longarms being offered to the discerning civilian shooter had improved beyond all recognition compared to those then in military service. In Europe and America, the smoothbore flintlock musket had remained the preeminent longarm for several reasons.

Firstly, and most obviously, was that of cost. Over many decades they had been issued in colossal numbers, and to replace them with more modern types was financially prohibitive for most governments.

Secondly, while the rifled barrel was becoming far more affordable, it was still primarily the preserve of the sporting shooter, with little interest being shown by the military.

After all, linear warfare was still the preferred method of fighting, and of what use was an expensive-to-produce rifled arm when speed of loading was still of greater importance than accuracy? Besides, actually teaching the common soldier to shoot properly would imply that he possessed a level of intelligence that was clearly unlikely. The regular soldier existed to carry loads, obey orders and, above all, not think for himself.

Read more:
https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2016/7/18/the-quest-for-accuracy-the-genesis-of-sniping/

https://www.americanrifleman.org/search/?s=genesis%20of%20sniping

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Col. George Hanger on marksmanship training

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Some things never change…

Some remarks respecting the training of a raw countryman, or a mechanic from Birmingham, perfectly awkward and generally very ignorant.  He is consigned to the superintendence of the drill serjeant.  He is first taught to walk, next to march, and hold himself tolerably erect.

Then a firelock is placed in his hands, which he handles at first as awkwardly as a bear would a plumb cake.  When he is taught the manual exercise and fit to do regimental duty, they then take him to fire powder.  Whilst the drill serjeant is teaching him to fire either by files or by platoons, the serjeant says to him, laying his cane along the barrels of the firelocks, ‘Lower the muzzles of your pieces, my lads, otherwise when you come into action, you will fire over the enemy.’ 

After this the recruit is taken to fire ball at a target.  How is he taught?  Thus he is spoken to:  ‘Take steady aim, my lad, at the bull’s eye of the target; hold your piece fast to the shoulder that it may not hurt you in the recoil; when you get your sight, pull smartly.’  This is the general way in which I believe they are taught, and in the name of truth and common sense permit me to ask you how a drill serjeant who is no marksman himself can teach an ignorant countryman or a low order of a mechanic to be a good marksman.  In my humble opinion, excellent in their way as they are to discipline the soldier and form him for parade and actual service in the line, the serjeant is just as capable of teaching him how to solve one of Sir Isaac Newton’s problems as to teach him to be a marksman.

Reflections on the menaced invasion, and the means of protecting the capital
Lord George Hanger, 4th Baron Coleraine
London, 1804

Canadian Sniper Record Shot: An Analysis

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I’m sure you heard about a Canadian sniper that reportedly set a new world record by taking down an ISIS target from a distance of about 2.2 miles. The exact distance of the shot was 11,316 feet (3,772 yards), taken by a special forces sniper from Canada’s Joint Task Force 2. In an official Forces Canadiennes statement, “The Canadian Special Operations Command can confirm that a member of the Joint Task Force 2 successfully hit a target from 3,540 metres [2.2 miles].”

http://www.range365.com/canadian-sniper-breaks-record-with-22-mile-shot/

http://www.duffelblog.com/2017/06/canadian-sniper-kill-shot-record/

One suggested motivator for this:

Here’s a commentary about this. Please comment with your thoughts below.

Jason Brown
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=42212919

A dozen shots at a dozen ISIS combatants 2 miles away and you’re bound to hit one. The vital zone is smaller than the zone where a quarter of the shots under controlled conditions would land. These guys are never alone. If he could reliably hit one with one shot, one kill certainty, then why weren’t there multiple kills? The reason is that this was a lucky shot.

Ten inch vital zone at 3,540m is 0.25MOA. That rifle shoots 0.5MOA BEFORE you throw in the Coriolis effect, which will move the point of impact between 7 to 10 inches depending on the actual time of flight of the bullet, but can’t be can’t be determined any better than that due to variability in muzzle velocity from shot to shot. That time of flight is also going to be affected by the inconsistent air density along the 4km arc of flight. This will also affect the amount of spin drift. Mathematically, this is like hitting a bullseye that’s smaller than the point of the dart. Do the math. Learn about long range shooting. Spend some time on the thousand yard range with guys that hold world records. Or better yet, answer that question – If this was a reliable one shot kill, why was there only one kill when the ISIS combat doctrine presents multiple targets…

This was walked into a crowd just like Craig Harrison’s shots, no doubt about it. World record 1,000yd benchrest is 0.3MOA where Coriolis is negligible with handloads that have a standard deviation of only a few feet per second and heavy support on concrete bases that weigh a ton. Obviously, a tactical rifle is not going to match that, and at over triple the distance, that group will open up due to variables that cannot be calculated such as uneven air density which no ballistic computer will predict. Hitting that first shot, cold bore is statistically like rolling six-sized dice and getting a 6.33, or measuring 0.0004″ with digital calipers that read to the nearest 0.001″, or measuring your speed to 1/10th MPH with a speedometer that has an accuracy of plus or minus 1MPH. If the error ellipse is larger than the target, the hit probably is less than 1.

A Farr Shot: First Time Shooters

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I’m sometimes asked what I’d do if a person without competition experience showed up and won the match.

That’s easy. I’d offer congratulations and applaud loudly. Because that’s what happens when anyone wins.

George Farr was an unknown shooter using improvised and borrowed equipment. He managed to set a record at his first appearance at Camp Perry during the National Matches. His first-time appearance was so inspiring that the Farr Trophy was created in his honor and is still rewarded to the top shooter using a Service Rifle during the NRA Long Range Nationals.

Admiring shooters surrounded George on all sides and it wasn’t long before someone suggested that the rifle and its shooter deserved to stay together. A collection taken up from fellow competitors representing several state teams made it possible for Farr to purchase that rifle. A silver plate for the left side of the rifle was engraved to commemorate the event. But the story doesn’t end there.

The next year, the Civilian Team Trophy was re-designated as the Farr Trophy. George Farr’s record string on the old target system was never beaten.

Birth of a Legend: The Farr Rifle
https://www.ssusa.org/articles/2016/4/21/birth-of-a-legend-the-farr-rifle/

Farr Trophy
http://competitions.nra.org/documents/pdf/compete/nat-trophy/tro-073.pdf

In case you’re wondering how the experienced competitors will treat you if you show up to your first match and win something big, something equally amazing will happen to you as did Mr. Farr. But ya gotta show up first…

There’s a reason we have to go all the way back to 1921 to remember a remarkable performance from a first timer.

MSG Norman Anderson: Being Of Service Rifle

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An interview with one of High Power’s greatest competitor and coach, MSG Norman Anderson.

http://www.beingofservicerifle.com/interview-norm-anderson/

US Marine Scout Sniper Documentary

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Here’s a summary: Take what you learn by attempting to win shooting matches and apply that improved skill and knowledge to the field environment.

Carlos Hathcock Interview
“What I used when I was sniping, I learned when I was competing.”

Sadly, they overlooked Chief Warrant Officer Arthur Terry as having originally started the program in Hawaii at the Pu’uloa Range Training Facility near ʻEwa Beach and Pearl Harbor (now Joint Base Harbor-Hickam). Gunner Terry’s sniper program trained Carlos Hathcock.

Gunner Terry served as a sniper in Korea. More accurately, he used his competition shooting experience with an accurized service rifle to engage specific targets. Upon returning to the States, he was assigned to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, running a shooting team and starting a formal sniping program in the 1950s. This began being known as the Scout Sniper program as scouting was required to first find a target and high level shooting skill was required to get hits.

Terry had officially retired after Korea, however, Major General Alan Shapley, then-commanding general of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, “reacquired” him for a single purpose: Developing a sniper program, starting with the shooters from the Marine Rifle and Pistol team in Hawaii. Shapley was preparing for future conflicts after Korea. Terry was given a new service number and “unretired” into a Warrant Officer position with the mission of turning shooters into snipers. Given his sniping experience in Korea, Gunner Terry was directed by FMF brass to start this program. It wasn’t unusual for Shapely or generals from 1st Marine Division dropping in to Terry’s office for updates.

Arnold Vitarbo and John Verhaal were among the skilled competitive shooters on Gunner Terry’s cadre. Jim Land and Carlos Hathcock were some of their first students.

Another interview of a Viet Nam era sniper:

Olympic Shooting and the value of sport

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Recent interest in #rio2016 Olympics resurected a post about whether shooting is a real sport:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/is-shooting-a-real-sport/

Interestingly, Duelling has been a competitive shooting event.

One of the lesser known Olympic events, pistol dueling was a popular sport in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was certainly not the deadly past time of generations earlier, where young gentlemen killed each other over matters of honor. Rather pistol dueling had transformed in a safe sport. Conventional pistols were used, however they fired cartridges with wax bullets which lacked gunpowder, the wax bullet being propelled by the force of the primer only. Contestant wore a mask to protect the face, and the pistols had special shields to protect the user’s hands.

Pistol dueling was introduced in the 1906 Olympics, but was discontinued after the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. A poll conducted before the 2000 Sydney Olympics showed that 32 percent of respondents would like to see dueling pistols reinstated as a sport.

So force on force was used as a competition shooting event in the Olympics over a century ago. Here’s yet another example of competition shooters doing something long before tactical types found it cool.

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