Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


This is coolbert:

From the blog entry on the SMLE rifle:

"The current world record for aimed bolt-action fire was set in 1914 by a musketry instructor in the British Army — Sergeant Instructor Snoxall — who placed 38 rounds into a 12" target at 300 yards in one minute."

As a person who does know military weaponry with more than a passing fancy, my instantaneous intuitive reaction was that this was not possible. NO ONE could fire a bolt action rifle that fast with such accuracy over such a distance! NOT possible.

The British Army in the years prior to World War One [WW1] was very professional and promoted to a high degree marksmanship with the SMLE rifle. Ability to fire the SMLE rifle with accuracy and speed [a contradiction] OVER DISTANCE was stressed. It seems that marksmanship of the quality as demonstrated by Sergeant Snoxall was NOT unique among English soldiers of the time. What the good sergeant did WAS indeed possible.

"The original feat was performed by Sergeant Instructor Snoxall in 1914. I [It] was 38 shots into a 12" bull at 300 yards. Prone, iron sights, no sling, loading with 5 round chargers."

"A Sgt. Instructor Snoxall at the British School of Musketry set the record in 1914 with 38(!) hits. Scores of 34- 35 hits were not uncommon."

Demonstrations and exhibitions of superlative skill with the SMLE rifle were periodically held to validate techniques of "musketry" as to taught to the pre-WW1 British "Old Sweats"??

I am making some basic assumptions regarding the "world record" of Sergeant Snoxall:

* Prone position. Prone position assumed prior to the minute starting.

* NO sling used.

* Metallic open sights only. No rear peep sight or telescopic allowed

[early pre-World War One versions of the SMLE would not have had a rear peep sight anyhow.]

* Rifle pre-loaded with ten shots loaded in magazine. [as it would be in combat!]

[I would assume too the rifle was ZEROED for 300 yards!!]

* 300 yards [274 meters]. Four foot by four foot target with 12 inch center bulls eye.

* One minute [“Mad Minute”]. Target raised, up for sixty seconds, then lowered. Fire, continue to fire, reloading as needed. Hit target as often as you can, with accuracy as great as possible.

[when reloading, two five round clips would have been used to fully charge the magazine prior to resuming fire!]

* Thirty eight hits in one minute within the 12 inch circle [# 4 ring?].

[exactly how many rounds Snoxall fired, how many hit the 4’ X 4’ target but were not within the #4 ring, all this is not made clear!?]

The standard for the common English infantryman of the era was 15 hits on the target in one minute. Target not totally defined! The 4’ X 4’ square alone?

[two charger clips of five rounds each to fill the ten round magazine!!]

"The British Soldiers were taught to positions their heads far enough back on the butt that they could work the bolt without having to break their spot weld. One of the training drills they used was a "race" between two man teams. One man would have the rifle, and the other would have a pile of dummy rounds and chargers. The object was for the rifleman to load and "fire" faster than the other man could fill the chargers. The trick was, that an instructor with a mirror would be observing the shooter's sight picture to ensure that he was actually AIMING correctly!"

"Cheek Weld [spot weld]

Consistency in sighting begins with proper 'cheek weld', positioning the cheek at the same place along the stock. Besides fore and aft placement of the 'weld', it also determines the height of the eyes in relation to the sights"

"A point of clarification here, the '15 aimed shots a minute' is the requirement for the 'average' British soldier. It is not unusual to have experienced soldiers and instructors aimed to get 30 shots, or more, off in the Mad Minute . . ."

"The criteria for 'aimed shot' is putting the bullets in a 4 ft X 4 ft at 300 yds. A shooting test devised by Lord Frederick Sleigh Roberts had this target pop up at that distance and the shooter has 60 seconds to get off as many aimed shots as possible. The criteria for 'aimed shot' is putting the bullets in a 4 ft x 4 ft at 300 yds. . ."

[a 4' by 4' target with a 12 inch bulls eye evidently!!]

[not just hits, but hits within the 12" bull!!!]

"A number of other features of the SMLE also helped increase the rate of fire."

* "The bolt handle of the SMLE was 'turned down'"

* "the SMLE was cocked when the bolt handle was pushed forward."

["Most people find it easier to push than to pull with greater effort. Therefore, combining the chambering the new round with the cocking would probably take less effort and be marginally faster."]

"Techniques were developed to maximize the rate of fire."

* "The shooter holds the bolt handle with his thumb and fore finger while pulling the trigger with his third finger."

* "polishing stripper guides . . . to enable quicker and easier insertion and extraction"

Such a demonstration of "musketry" is possible by moderns? One group of American shootists HAVE tried the "Lord Roberts Match" with less than favorable results! Read for yourself. NOT firing the SMLE. And NOT having the training and knowledge to replicate the feat of Sergeant Snoxall. The old ways are always the best ways!!??

The human being IS ABLE to accomplish feats that mere mortals DO NOT THINK POSSIBLE!! With the proper combination of innate ability, desire, will power, lots of practice, proper coaching and TIME, what might seem impossible becomes possible. YES, IT IS SO!!




Anonymous Term Papers said...

Your instantaneous intuitive reaction was that this was not possible. NO ONE could fire a bolt action rifle that fast with such accuracy over such a distance! NOT possible and certainly you was right.

12:36 AM

Anonymous N/|\Z said...

Snoxall's achievement is a well-documented result. Please note that he was a musketry Sergeant Instructor, not an average squaddie (english for "grunt"). In 1914, he would have been using a Rifle, No 1 or a Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee Enfield (more commonly known as an SMLE). This rifle is the reason that, early in World War I, German troops were convinced that the British had machineguns.

Your qualifications for stating that this was "NOT possible", please?

4:43 PM

Anonymous Shoneyboy said...

First hand account from my Grandfather who was a rifle instructor in 1916 was that 15 rounds was easy, he could mange 21. It was at 300 yards but a 6' target and a hit anywhere on the screen counted. It was also shot standing in a trench on a fire step. Personally I've managed 20 on a 18" board at 100 yards and 30 rounds rapid with about half missing the board. So it is possible. Use a 20 round mag and its easy.

6:09 AM


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