On most long-range rifles, the rear is made with a vernier scale operated by a screw, by which an alteration of one-hundreth of an inch, and even of half that amount, can be made in the elevation, the result being exact, and recorded in figures—the only way in which a correct record of elevations can be kept. On the Remington rifle the divisions on the vernier are termed degrees and minutes, and on the Sharps decimals of an inch. On the former each minute is 1-92 of an inch, and corresponds upon a 34-inch barrel with 1 1-18 of an inch, at each 100 yards. On the Sharps rifle each sub-division is 1-100 of an inch, corresponding theoretically to 1 1-2 inch to every one hundred yards. As no man can hold or sight a rifle at 1,000 yards within ten inches, the elevation on both rifles is practically the same, or about two inches to each 100 yards for each sub-division on the vernier that is, twenty inches at 1,000 yards. The sub-divisions upon the wind-gauge of both the Remington and Sharps rifles are about 1-40 of an inch, and are equivalent in practice to two inches at each 100 yards, or 20 inches at 1,000 yards, on the 34-inch barrel.
As the errors incident to aiming at long range will, in most cases, increase the effect of any alteration in the sights, care should be taken to keep well within the elevations which would be mathematically correct. It must also be recollected that the velocity of a bullet decreases with the distance, and as it loses its velocity it becomes more likely to be affected by currents of air. Consequently the effect of any change upon the sights is greater proportionately at long than at short range. The effect of wind, etc., increases in a still greater proportion, that which would require an alteration of 2 points in the elevation at 800 yards, requiring 2 1-2 at 900, and 3 at 1,000. The proportions of the trajectory represented in the above sketch are exaggerated with respect to the size of the rifle. In estimating the carrying power of any bullet, it is customary to give, as the measure of its trajectory, the mid-range height of the bullet above the straight line from the muzzle of the rifle to the point where it strikes the target. The best riflemen prefer to have the peep-hole of the rear sight of considerable size, as affording more light, and consequently allowing a better sight to be taken. In the Metford rear sight, discs having different sized apertures may be used; and it has been stated by some of the Irish team that they have, in foggy or dark weather, done good shooting by removing the disc entirely, so as to leave an aperture of nearly a quarter of an inch. Every rifleman should, therefore, have an extra disc, with a large aperture, to use in dusky weather. The vernier sight is usually placed upon the small of the stock. General Dakin and others who shoot on their backs, have it placed upon the heel of the butt. When the latter is the case, it makes the distance between the two sights nearly a third greater than when placed upon the small of the stock, and consequently a proportionately greater allowance both for elevation and wind will be required.
In order to acquire a correct manner of aiming with the various sights adapted the following directions given for Winchester repeating and single shot rifles should be observed: The rifle should be held with its butt placed firmly against the shoulder, yet not so tightly as to cause any muscular strain or tremor, and its muzzle brought to point in the direction of the target, but somewhat below the bull's-eye; care being taken to keep the sights perfectly upright. The center of the notch in the rear sight should then be brought into direct alignment with the front sight; and when correctly held the tip of the front sight should appear about 1-32 of an inch above the bottom of the notch of the rear sight, or so much as may be distinctly seen without blurring. With a bead or pin-head front sight the whole of the bead should be seen. Keeping the sights in this same relative position, the muzzle of the rifle should be raised until the tip of the front sight reaches the bottom edge of the bull's-eye, but does not quite touch it; a small space intervening just perceptible to the eye without straining. With aperture front sights, the aperture in the bead should "ring" the bull's-eye, allowing a thin white ring to show equally around the bull's-eye.
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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