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Sharpshooting competitions


TJID

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Did the army have sharpshooting competitions on a serious basis? Or would it have been "local" recreation depending on regional CO's? And if they did, was there any systematic record kept of the results? I've not seen any in newspapers, but to be honest, I haven't so far specifically looked them.

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there is a medal awarded for shooting 

Queen's Medal for Champion Shots in the Military Forces - Wikipedia

 

other monarchs also available :thumbsup:

 

 

Edited by Coldstreamer
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Forces competitions were a feature of the annual NRA meets at, originally, Wimbledon then later at Bisley both prior & post the Great War; I doubt that any CO would want to send a representative to these without having had local competitions - whether formal or informal - to select the best candidates to represent their unit. The annual Bisley meetings & results,  until more recent times, used to be well covered by the national press (The Times particularly)  See Wikipedia pages Army Operational Shooting Competition  & National Rifle Association (United Kingdom)   & associated links.  If I remember correctly, during the Great War the NRA ranges at Bisley were handed over to the War Department for the duration.

NigelS

Edited by NigelS
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Mate,

Very serious.

Even we sent shooters over to the UK for events for the last 200 + years (or not so much now days)

After the Bow and arrow thing in the UK (Henry the V) they then went to Rifles starting with black powder (The Georges) and then to more modern types (Victoria & Georges) .

So the UK as a long history with shooting, all of which came in well at Crecy to Waterloo and beyond

S.B

 

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The Victorian era probably marked the zenith of the great enthusiasm for rifle shooting encouraged by the government.  That particular epoch began with the threat of invasion by France in 1859 but quickly spread across the Empire and brought Britain and the old Dominions especially close via the competitions mentioned at Wimbledon and then Bisley, the latter becoming the headquarters of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Every municipality had units of local volunteers who were not taught to manoeuvre, but anticipating their use as defenders of static positions there was a single minded focus on accurate shooting.  This manifested itself in unit marksmanship practice, with as many auxiliary units as possible having small, local ranges, bolstered by regional competitions to encourage rivalry and excellence.

The premier event was for the Queen’s medal and for a period there was a tradition that the Queen (Victoria) would fire the first shot of the competition from a fixed rifle rest.  The competitions at every level ended with prize-giving in the form of silver cups and shields and, unlike regular soldiers**, the auxiliaries (Rifle Volunteers) were also encouraged to wear cloth prize badges on the chest and arms of a second tunic, or frock, as a mark of their prowess.  Regular units incorporated shooting competitions for both, inter-company and inter-regiment, at battalion and brigade level.

The 2nd Boer War led to a surge in effort following difficulties in countering the skills of Boer Farmers, who lived by their skill with a rifle, and the beginning of WW1 was perhaps the high point in terms of organising shooting training on a mass scale.  The responsibility for bringing the necessary skills together was shared by the NRA at Bisley and the Army’s School of Musketry at Hythe, with the latter strongly supported by equivalent schools in all of the Dominions, with a special emphasis on individual rapid fire to make up for government stinginess in supplying machine guns.  Nevertheless, the industrialised slaughter brought on by the massed use of machine guns and artillery fire led to a marked decline in the omnipotence of skilful musketry and things never reached the same scale of importance again.

**with the exception of School of Musketry instructors.

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Edited by FROGSMILE
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22 hours ago, TJID said:

Did the army have sharpshooting competitions on a serious basis?

I don`t know if sharpshooting differs from just shooting but I recall shooting at circular targets about 2ft diameter on a pole held up for a few seconds at a time. Were they called snap targets? That was quite different to taking as long as you liked with a stationary target.

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8 hours ago, PhilB said:

I don`t know if sharpshooting differs from just shooting but I recall shooting at circular targets about 2ft diameter on a pole held up for a few seconds at a time. Were they called snap targets? That was quite different to taking as long as you liked with a stationary target.

Sharpshooting seems to have been an Americanism that predated the term ‘sniping’ and the US equivalent of Rifle regiments were often titled as such, e.g. Berdan’s Sharpshooters of the ACW.  You are right though that snap shooting was a particular technique in musketry regulations and skills.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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3 hours ago, TJID said:

Thanks to everybody for amazingly fast and comprehensive responses! Tons of starting points for me here. Very much appreciated.

You might find the following news piece/ advert of interest:

February 26, 1910.

THE RIFLEMAN

The Queen's Cup, 1910.

Open to any individual member of any club affiliated to the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs before February 24th. 1910, whose club subscription has been paid for the current year.
The following awards will be made:
To the winning county}-H.M. the Queen's Cup (to be held by the Lord Lieutenant of the county) and a gold medal to each member of the team.
A silver medal to each of the members of the other county teams competing in the final stage.
A bronze medal to each member of the other county teams.
A certificate to each member of each county twenty that does not win a medal.
PRELIMINARY STAGE.
To be completed by April 1st, 1910. (Fired at Home on indoor or outdoor range).
(a) Ten shots, deliberate, at 25 yards. Society's Standard decimal target.
(b) Ten shots, rapid, in 60 seconds, at 25 yards. Society's Standard decimal target.
FIRST STAGE.
To be completed by May 14th.1910.
To be shot for by the 20 competitors in each county making the highest scores in the Preliminary Stage.
(Fired at Home on indoor or outdoor range.)
(a) Ten shots, deliberate, at 25 yards. Society's Standard decimal target.
(b) Ten shots, rapid, in 60 seconds, at 25 yards. Society's Standard decimal target.
The six leading competitors in each county in this stage constitute the county team.
SECOND STAGE.
To be completed by June 10th, 1910.
To be shot for by county teams of six.
(Fired at home on indoor or outdoor range of each individual member comprising the team.)
(a) Ten shots, deliberate, at 25 yards. Society's Standard decimal target.
(b) Ten shots, rapid, in 60 seconds, at 25 yards. Society's Standard decimal target.
The four leading county teams are entitled to shoot in the final stage.
FINAL STAGE.
To be contested by the four county teams, shoulder to shoulder,
on the range of the Ham and Petersham Rifle Club, London, on the 2nd of July, 1910.
(a) Ten shots, deliberate, at 25 yards. Society's Standard decimal target.
(b) Ten shots, deliberate, at 50 yards. Society's Standard decimal target.
(c) Ten shots, deliberate, at 100 yards. Society's Standard decimal target.
(d) Ten shots, rapid, in 60 seconds, at 100 Yards. Society's Secondary target.
REGULATIONS.
Entry Forms. - Entry forms are enclosed herewith. The Secretary of each club is entitled to enter any number of bona-fide members of that club, on or before March 1st, 1910, provided his club affiliation fee for the current year has been paid.
TARGETS . TARGETS will be forwarded to club secretaries as soon as possible after the date on which entries close.
Umpires.-Three umpires must be present and witness the firing. Umpire certificates will be forwarded with the TARGETS , and should be carefully studied.
Sights. - Sights may be of any pattern, fixed or adjustable, both vertically and laterally, but may not be fitted with magnifying glasses, telescopes, or spirit levels.
Note.-A single-glass lens may be attached to the backsight, provided that the lens is not an essential portion of the sight, and that the sights are usable without the lens.
Slings.-May be used.
Jams or - Misfires.-In the rapid shooting, no extra time will be allowed in respect of jams or misfires.
Rapid.-Competitors will load on the word "ready," and fire on the word "commence," and may not fire after the words "cease fire - " Time will be reckoned from the word "commence. "
Position.  Any.
Ties. - in the event of ties, additional targets will be forwarded to those concerned, who must re-shoot the competition before umpires without delay, and return the TARGETS to the Society.
Should the range of a competitor's club not comply with the conditions as to distance, permission may be granted, upon application to the Society stating the name of the range upon which the competitor wishes to fire, for him to fire upon another range, but the competitor himself must obtain the necessary permission from the club to whom the range belongs.
The Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs reserves to itself the right of accepting or refusing any entry, and of deciding any question whatsoever that may arise in connection with this competition.

NB.  “Sharpshooting for War and Defence" was a pre WW1 edition of William Greener's original 173 page publication "Sharp Shooting for Sport and War", first issued in 1900 by R.A. Everett and Co. at the price of 1/- ( one shilling).

Afternote:  See also - https://www.rifleman.org.uk/Recommended_Reading.html

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Frog,

Interesting, when doing my Rifle marksman comp, we shot at distants from 100 to 300 metres

Most of what I remember was always around the 300 mark

When doing my pistol marksman we would start at the 25 meters out to 75 mtrs

I surpose things changed between 1910 and 1970

S.B

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20 minutes ago, stevenbecker said:

Frog,

Interesting, when doing my Rifle marksman comp, we shot at distants from 100 to 300 metres

Most of what I remember was always around the 300 mark

When doing my pistol marksman we would start at the 25 meters out to 75 mtrs

I surpose things changed between 1910 and 1970

S.B

I think it’s purely due to that particular competition being miniature rifle, Steve, and so .22 inch calibre, rather than full bore.  A completely different competition level, but popular in urban areas where it wasn’t possible to furnish or easily attend a gallery range.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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The TF also had rifle competitions: which gives me a chance to repost one of my favourite Gordons pics from the (just) pre war period:

shootingcupsmallest.jpg.dde590ffc93023cc0bf98d411f38dac1.jpg

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5 minutes ago, 4thGordons said:

The TF also had rifle competitions: which gives me a chance to repost one of my favourite Gordons pics from the (just) pre war period:

shootingcupsmallest.jpg.dde590ffc93023cc0bf98d411f38dac1.jpg

Yes they fairly seamlessly inherited the strong, raisson d’etre tradition of the Rifle Volunteers mentioned above.

It’s a great photo and I can see why it’s a favourite of yours, thank you for sharing it. 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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29 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

It’s a great photo and I can see why it’s a favourite of yours, thank you for sharing it. 

Thanks - I have a note of which competition/cup it is somewhere but I cannot put my hands on it. The younger looking sgt seated at the front appears to have an imperial service badge.

It's interesting to me  in a couple of other ways - the stripe in the Gordon Tartan is clearly visible - suggesting this may well be an early panchromatic process, rather than the more standard orthochromatic of the era.

Also - the members of the team are wearing trews (Kilted regiments often wore trews/trousers on rifle ranges - perhaps for obvious reasons!)

And - they are armed with CLLEs but four of the rifles have their slings (which do not appear to be standard service slings) as they have a buckle on them - running between the position where a piling swivel is usually mounted (at the muzzle) and the mounting point just forward of the magazine in the manner that older longer rifles like the Snider and the Martini were set up. This suggests that they may have been using the sling wrapped around their forearms to steady the rifle when shooting offhand (something that does not appear to have been common in military shooting until later)

Chris

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2 hours ago, 4thGordons said:

Thanks - I have a note of which competition/cup it is somewhere but I cannot put my hands on it. The younger looking sgt seated at the front appears to have an imperial service badge.

It's interesting to me  in a couple of other ways - the stripe in the Gordon Tartan is clearly visible - suggesting this may well be an early panchromatic process, rather than the more standard orthochromatic of the era.

Also - the members of the team are wearing trews (Kilted regiments often wore trews/trousers on rifle ranges - perhaps for obvious reasons!)

And - they are armed with CLLEs but four of the rifles have their slings (which do not appear to be standard service slings) as they have a buckle on them - running between the position where a piling swivel is usually mounted (at the muzzle) and the mounting point just forward of the magazine in the manner that older longer rifles like the Snider and the Martini were set up. This suggests that they may have been using the sling wrapped around their forearms to steady the rifle when shooting offhand (something that does not appear to have been common in military shooting until later)

Chris

Yes I think you’re right with your comments regarding the fitting of the slings Chris.  They look to me as if they might be an old dark leather (as opposed to buff) rifle volunteer equipment slings, either for the old Martini-Henry, or possibly even the Snider-Enfield.

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Mate,

The half sling is what we use to call it

It was wraped around the left arm to steady the weapon and keep the sight pitchure

Never used it myself, but my dad did when he worked and shot at the Long Bay Rifle range during comps.

He always use to tell me "never palm the bolt"

S.B

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10 hours ago, 4thGordons said:

Thanks - I have a note of which competition/cup it is somewhere but I cannot put my hands on it. The younger looking sgt seated at the front appears to have an imperial service badge.

It's interesting to me  in a couple of other ways - the stripe in the Gordon Tartan is clearly visible - suggesting this may well be an early panchromatic process, rather than the more standard orthochromatic of the era.

Also - the members of the team are wearing trews (Kilted regiments often wore trews/trousers on rifle ranges - perhaps for obvious reasons!)

And - they are armed with CLLEs but four of the rifles have their slings (which do not appear to be standard service slings) as they have a buckle on them - running between the position where a piling swivel is usually mounted (at the muzzle) and the mounting point just forward of the magazine in the manner that older longer rifles like the Snider and the Martini were set up. This suggests that they may have been using the sling wrapped around their forearms to steady the rifle when shooting offhand (something that does not appear to have been common in military shooting until later)

Chris

That appears likely to be the battalion’s Adjutant and Sergeant Major in blue patrols too, Sam Brownes were not usually worn with blue patrol uniform before the war.  Although smart it was a much more casual, undress uniform back then.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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