SHORT RANGE, GALLERY OR ARMORY PRACTICE
SHORT RANGE, GALLERY OR ARMORY PRACTICE
Many shooters derive as much pleasure and enjoyment from the use of their arms at Short Range Practice, and shooting small game, as they do at the regular range, or when on their hunt for larger game. This they can participate in at a much less expense, and in the off-season, which not only keeps them in practice, but affords many hours of keen enjoyment. There are a great variety of bullets of all weights, shapes, and calibers, so that the most critical shooter should be able to find what he desires for whatever rifle he may have.
Armory or Gallery Practice is also becoming more popular every winter, and great efficiency is attained with light charges and round ball, or special short range conical bullets. It is a cheap, pleasant, enjoyable pastime. The marked improvement in the shooting at the range is in a great measure credited to the Armory and Gallery Practice. The use of the same rifle at Armory or Gallery Practice that is used at the range will accustom the shooter to it, and tend to perfect him in the proper handling of the arm. This feature is recognized by the leading military shooters, and Armory Practice is now permanently fixed as a part of the duty of the military shooter, if he expects to become proficient at the range. The U. S. Marine Corps officials at Washington, recognizing these facts, tested the special 45-210 grain bullet for their short range work, after which they gave orders for a quantity of the Ideal Armory moulds for that bullet, which are now being used in the Service. The whole of the New York State Militia, and numerous other military organizations, who use large quantities of bullets, are served with these moulds cut for the round, 210 grain special, and other bullets as desired.
If using black powders, select the fine grade, which is quicker. The high-grade shotgun black powders, which would not be good for full charge rifle cartridges, work well for small charges from 5 to 15 grains, according to size of bore and distance to be shot. Some of the Smokeless shotgun powders, such as Hazard's, DuPont's, "E. C," Schultze, King's, Oriental and Walsrode, are not proper for full charge rifle or pistol cartridges, yet they are fine for short range, if used in quantities not greater than from 5 to 10 grains. King's F. F. F. G. semi-smokeless powder is also good. In the factory short range cartridges, the powder is loose in the shell, and the bullet, if grooved, is seated in the shell just deep enough to cover the lubrication. The air space between the ball and powder is unfilled, and very good work is ordinarily secured from this ammunition, but if the shooter thoughtlessly holds his rifle with muzzle down before bringing it to his shoulder, the powder falling from the base of the shell may cause 'hang-fire. We, therefore, advise a little soft cotton wad, pressed lightly upon the powder, with the end of a lead pencil, simply to keep it at the base of the shell. The round ball is for the shortest range with smallest charge of powder. They should be made considerably hard, and as large as can be forced in the muzzle of the shell, without expanding it. The round bullet presents but very little bearing surface to the rifling, so it should be as large as possible, to prevent escapement of gas, and if hard, instead of soft, they will be more liable to hold to the rifling. If too much powder is used with round ball, they will be apt to jump the rifling and lead the barrel. The cause of dissatisfaction to many who have tried the round bullet has been the use of too much powder, and the bullets too soft. Insert the bullet in the shell about one-eighth of an inch below the muzzle, and run a drop of melted lubricant around the bullet and the shell where they come in contact.
Some shooters believe the bullet should be seated away down in the shell on a small charge of powder, while others prefer loading as described above. We think, in many cases, the accuracy may be impaired by having a bullet seated too far in the shell, for it necessitates the movement of the bullet the length of the shell before it strikes the rifling, and it may not enter on a true axis with the barrel, especially if there is a space to jump between the end of the shell and the rifling. It is an acknowledged fact that a bullet, perfectly seated in the rifling before discharge takes place, approaches nearest to perfection. Hence, the use of the barrel bullet seater for fine target work. We think the nearest to that method would be to keep the bullet as close to the rifling as possible.
The target here illustrated is actual size, and it bears strong testimony on the subject in hand. Number of shots, 26; distance, 100 feet; rifle, .30 cal. Govt., Winchester model '95; twist, 10 inches; powder used, DuPont's smokeless rifle No. 1; quantity, 10 grains, no wadding; primer used, No. 2\ W. Winchester; bullet used, .32 S. & W., as cast in Ideal Mould; size, full .313. The bullet being .313, could not be set within the .30 cal. shell, which is snug for a bullet .308, so it was simply placed on the muzzle of the shell, and tapped lightly, so as to make it hold, while being inserted in the chamber. Lubrication on the outside. Bullet was cast of metal, one part tin to 19 of lead. Shot from a rest.
There is no portion of rifle practice more important than understanding how to estimate distance, but the question of how such a knowledge shall be acquired and imparted, forms a very difficult problem for an officer of the National Guard. In the country, facilities for the purpose can be easily obtained; but in the cities, officers, in addition to requiring their men, when upon the range and not firing, to practice in this exercise must urge them to accustom themselves to judge distances the best way they can, impressing upon them that, no matter how accurate marksmen they may be at a fixed target, they are worthless if they cannot calculate the distance of an enemy. In estimating distances, the following suggestions may be valuable: At 50 yards the observer can name any one of his comrades readily, as the age, complexion, height, and figure can be determined at that distance. At 100 yards he should notice those parts which are clearly visible, and his attention drawn to the indistinctness of other portions. The lineaments of the face are no longer visible, the buttons down the front of the coat appears one continuous line. The movements of the men individually, and the form and color of the uniform, are, however, perfectly visible. At 225 yards, the colors of the uniform, cartridge boxes, etc., are still visible; but the face now resembles a light-colored ball under the cap. At about 250 yards he can distinguish only the different parts of the body and the rifle. At about 450 yards, the direction of the line of march and the movement of the rifles can be detected, and in cavalry the helmet, cuirass, bright colors of the uniform, etc. At 600 yards the head looks like a small round ball, and the shoulders sloped off. At 700 or 800 yards the body has a dwindled appearance, but the legs of men in motion or extended arms are still distinguishable. At 900 and 1,000 yards the separate files and direction of march are still apparent. At 1,200 yards infantry can be distinguished from cavalry. At 2,000 yards a man, or even a horse, looks like a mere speck or dot.
Individual practice should be encouraged by all officers, and particularly in the case of the National Guard, to whom every inducement should be made to visit any available range for private practice. To prevent accidents and insure the enforcement of the prescribed rules, every man should be required to enter his name on arriving at the range; those men who are the first to arrive should have the right to determine the distance at which they wish to fire. As the men arrive, they will form themselves into squads, each squad electing a captain, who will keep the score and enforce the rules of the range. All arriving subsequently are to obey his orders. If no markers or look-out men are employed, each captain must make a detail from his squad for such purposes, and see that those detailed are properly relieved. The firing is to be conducted according to the principles above laid down, and every shot fired in rear of the firing point, whether accidentally or otherwise, unless fired into the pit provided for the purpose, shall be entered as a miss. The men last at the ground must see that the danger flag I hauled down, and the appurtenances belonging to the range replaced where they belong, or returned to the keeper. Practice upon the range is only intended to find out and apply what has been learned at drill, and acquire a practical knowledge of elevations and the allowances required for wind and weather. In all cases, therefore, extreme deliberation should be used. No advantage is gained by firing more than 10 shots at a distance; and the habit beginners have of expending ail the ammunition they can procure as fast as possible, is a positive detriment. Each shot should be fired with a definite purpose, and its results noted and remembered. The captain of each squad, or of a team, should give special attention to this subject, as not only will the expense of the practice be greatly reduced, but the quality of the shooting greatly improved.
The first point to consider in regard to a range is its safety, and too much pains cannot be taken in the selection of the ground in order to protect the public from danger, as well as to prevent unnecessary expense in the erecting of butts, etc. While it is impossible to lay down precise rules for every feature of a country, the following suggestions will be found sufficient under ordinary circumstances. No ground is to be selected which does not afford a range of at least 300 yards, and it is most important that the ground behind the targets should be thoroughly commanded from certain points sufficiently clear of the line of fire to insure safety to the look-out men who are to be placed there in order that the fire may be easily stopped when necessary; hence a range down hill is generally to be preferred, as being more easily commanded to one uphill. The targets upon a range should, where the ground permits, be established by pairs, with an interval not less than 10 yards between each target, and with a margin of at least 40 yards at the sides; the minimum breadth of ground for a pair of targets should be 90 yards, and all the targets should be on the same line. When, however, the number to be exercised in rifle practice is large, and the breadth of ground limited, a number of targets may be established, with an interval of 10 yards between each, to be used as if for a pair, a margin being left at the sides of the outer targets of at least 40 yards. In these cases the number of each target should be conspicuously placed upon the butt in rear of it so as to be plainly seen from the firing point, and the firing should be stopped at all the targets whenever the danger signal is shown at any target within 40 yards. The breadth of ground in rear of the target at each side of the outer ranges, should gradually increase from 40 to 80 yards, in those cases when the ranges are parallel; but when they converge toward the targets, the breadth may or may not be required, according to the degree to which the ranges are made to converge. The distances at the targets must never be less than 10 yards between ranges in pairs, and 80 yards between pairs of ranges, whether they are laid out parallel to each other or converge toward the targets. If no butts are erected, and the ground is level, the space behind the targets should be about 1,500 yards. A less distance may, however, answer, if butts are erected, or if a steep hill rises in rear of the targets. Before steps are taken to procure grounds for ranges, it is essential to secure the right to fire over the land behind the targets to the extent required, should it not be desirable to purchase it. Generally this distance cannot be obtained, and a butt must be erected in rear of the targets, to arrest stray shots. The height of this must differ according to the nature of the background. If the range be on a plain, the regulation size of the butts is from 35 to 40 feet high, provided the distance behind the target is less than 1,500 yards. Under ordinary circumstances, however, the height of the butt need not be more than 20 feet, and when firing toward water a butt of 12 feet in height will be sufficient. On some ground there are found natural butts for the targets to rest against. To be of use in stopping stray bullets and thereby insure the safety of the public, the hill should incline 45 degrees, at least; if a smaller angle than this, it would, instead of acting as a stop, incur the chance of a ricochet, and therefore be unsafe. A few furrows from a plough will frequently lessen the chances of ricochets. The length of the butt for a pair of targets should not be less than 45 feet, measured along the top. They are far inferior to natural obstacles, and are expensive to erect and keep in repair. The number of each target should be placed on the butt directly over it in large figures, so as to be conspicuous from the firing points. Where there are a number of targets these numbers should be painted red and black alternately. At long ranges Roman figures, made by laying rails on the butt, are more easily discerned than numerals. In crowded localities, where the range is short, and the danger of injury to the public great, a series of shields or screens may be thrown across the practice ground at different distances containing apertures of such a height and width as to permit the passage of all properly directed bullets, and to arrest random shots. These are sometimes high arches of cast-iron, and sometimes upright barriers of stout plank. Two or three sheds with plank roofs, made to slope toward the target, form a cheap and convenient screen, provided the ground between them is furrowed so as to prevent the ricocheting of the bullets which strike the sheds and glance downwards. In the longer ranges, these shields are objectionable, not only because the high trajectory of the bullet makes it difficult to place them properly, but because they confine the firing to a single distance, and render the appearance of the target as visible through the apertures so different from what it presents in the "open" as to deprive those using them of many of the advantages that should be derived from target practice, and particularly from acquiring a practical knowledge of distance. If care be taken that none be allowed to practice with ball who have not been through a course of "position and aiming drill," the danger of random firing will be reduced to a minimum, and the prescribed butt be found amply sufficient for all practical purposes. Every range is to be carefully and accurately measured, and the distances defined by a line of small pegs, at intervals of 50 yards, commencing at 100 yards from the target, and continuing to 900 yards, or to the extent of the ground, if under that distance. These pegs also serve as guides to prevent firing on a wrong target—a fruitful source of accidents. To avoid the sun, the targets must be placed at the northern end of the range; or if that is not practicable, at the eastern. In using the ranges the firing parties commence their practice close to the targets and gradually retire. Consequently, as there is not likely to be as much practice at the extremely long ranges as at the shorter ones, a piece of ground, of a triangular shape may be selected for an extensive range, the targets being placed at the broadest part, and the firing points being reduced as the distance is increased. Several flag-staffs should be placed in such positions upon the range as to make the danger signal conspicuous.
Farrow, Edward S. American Small Arms; a Veritable Encyclopedia of Knowledge for Sportsmen and Military Men. New York: Bradford, 1904. Print.
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