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All of us have heard of the man who can regularly kill his game at extreme ranges. Sir Samuel Baker tells of dropping a Cape buffalo at eight hundred yards with one ball from a muzzle loading eight bore. Another writer speaks of shooting antelope on the run at seven hundred yards, evidently a customary occurrence with him. The Boers are popularly believed to have made a common practice of shooting game at distances of from five hundred to one thousand yards. I have recently been reading of a great game shot who could strike his quarry with fair certainty at fifteen hundred yards.

Now I do not wish to maintain that such performances are impossible nor to reflect on the veracity of the narrators, but I have a suspicion that all work of this kind is sheer, bull luck, absolutely dependent on chance. With his huge, round bullet of low velocity Sir Samuel must have held a hundred feet above the buffalo's back. Shooting a running antelope at seven hundred yards requires a lead of about seventy-five feet. As for the fifteen hundred yard man it has been calculated that with our highest velocity rifle, the Springfield '06, the ball at fifteen hundred yards would be dropping one foot for every eighteen feet of forward movement consequently would fall below a twelve-inch circle in traveling nine extra feet. Estimating fifteen hundred yards to within nine feet is close work—many men could not come within nine feet in judging fifty.

Occasionally large game like elk and caribou have undoubtedly been killed at very long range. Our military experts do not regard a highest possible score at a thousand yards as anything wonderful, and the inference is natural that game can be shot at a like distance. However, shooting game at the moderate range of five hundred yards is not so easy as it might seem. Kindly keep in mind that, no matter what the distance, we have to land our bullet in that fatal eight-inch circle.

It is a question in the first place of having a rifle accurate enough to do it when fired from a machine rest. The Springfield is said to be our most accurate rifle, and Government tests show its mean deviation at that range to be 5.9 inches. This is not saying that all shots would go into an eleven- or twelve-inch for we have only the average deviation, and plenty of shots would go outside. Granted that it would stay in a fifteen-inch, which is considerably wider than an eight, and wouldn't do. The ordinary sporting rifle with soft-point bullets would require a twenty-four inch circle to contain the shots, with possibly not a single ball landing in the eight-inch.

As we see, not one of our rifles is accurate enough to shoot game at five hundred yards. But even if they were, accuracy is not the only thing we have to consider. On the contrary when shooting over such a range we have to take into our calculation judgment of distance and correct elevation of sights, windage must not be neglected, light can by no means be overlooked, and the barometer, hygrometer, and thermometer must be read carefully; lastly we will have to get our projectile into the game with power enough to kill.

Tests by the Government show that the danger zone for infantry, with the five hundred yard alignment of sights, '06 cartridge, extends for only 128 yards back of the target. Infantry height is taken at sixty-eight inches, but our game danger zone is only eight inches across which reduces the distance to sixteen yards or thereabouts, hence if we underestimate the range sixteen yards in five hundred the result must be a miss or a crippling shot. Naturally the average game cartridge would be much inferior to the '06, an error in judging distances of more than twenty-five feet being hardly permissible.

Askins, Charles. Rifles and Rifle Shooting. New York: Outing, 1912. Print.

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