..800, 900,1,000 yards, with open sights. Long range shooters at Creedmoor were the real deal.
The above photo shows the first shot high and right. Today, we'd call it a flyer. We don't know if it was a clean bore or not. Some records weren't as meticulous as we now keep. Knowing all of their projectiles were lead, did they recognize lead fouling? Did they clean the bores frequently?! Were there lead solvents strong enough to keep bores from lead fouling? So many unanswered questions.
Some bullet placements, especially during competitions were better than most of us 21st Century shooters can muster with a high powered scope, custom barrels, shooting adjuncts and meticulous reloads, hundreds of yards closer!
The Sights and Accessories...
Even after laying out thousands of dollars in technological adjuncts to assist us, including maybe a thousand or two for instruction in all of the long range shooting schools that have sprouted up these days, we would match, the best open-sights shooters in 1876--that's all they had--No, actually some first generation rifle scopes made it onto Civil War era rifles.
I know, don't be so uptight, but I feel that adjuncts take away from the "skills" possessed in the day. I get using a range-finder to take an animal, where ethics takes over for the humane shot. But like the "new" archers of today, taking 80 yard or longer shots, there is a lot that can happen to an arrow or a bullet in the long flight path travelling to the target. What is it, archery, or long range shooting?
Long range has always been fringe, and was adopted during WWII, and even Civil War documents talk about scoped round-ball guns. The French-developed minie-ball immediately created accuracy. It was an elongated bullet that was an instant game changer. The "bullet of the day", the Round-ball, faded faster than a gut-shot whitetail.
The Creedmoor targets were also of great design. An attendant would seat himself securely in-ground facing the target and raise a flag when a hit would occur. The 1,000 yard Bull being about ONE-FOOT in diameter.
The schematic for the target face shows the entire target rings to be just under five feet across. From 1,000 yards with the naked-eye, through the shooters' peep sights the target looks like a period at the end of this sentence.
Most of the scrapbook are cut-and-paste articles from newspapers of the day: The Globe, the New York Times, The Spirit of the Times, The Rod and Gun and American Sportsmen, the National Guardsmen, the Stamford Advocate, Forrest and Stream, The World, New York Herald, were a mix of statistics, like baseball scores printed in the Sports Sections of the few remaining newspapers today.
There is mention of dozens of matches each year, with various shooting positions for each distance; 200, 300, 400 yards. Then the big shooting contests were 500, 600, and graduations of 800, 900 to 1,000 yards.
So, the fastest way to becoming a better shot, isn't money--unless you have a lot of it, but practice, a lot of practice!
IF, just IF, you've read the book, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, the results of lots of doing (AKA, practice) can be a result of near-perfection. Shoot for an accumulated 10,000 hours, I guarantee you'll be good!
The farthest I ever shot open sights was a 400 yard gong, at Central Oregon's Shooting Sports complex on a chance visit there years back when a friend handed a buddy and me his '03 Enfield, specially set-up for long range shooting. I managed hitting the gong 3 out of 4 shots.
Words like "Bracketing" aren't common much anymore and accompanying words from a time long gone. That's how I took my 2011 bull elk in Hells Canyon, at 406 yards, through the heart. And, my black bear in spring of 2016, by ranging and using the cross hairs to estimate hold over--No BDC dial to turn; know the height between heavy Duplex at a given power, and Voila'.
Truth be told, until 2011 I hadn't used a range finder. It worked well. Once I knew my distance, I knew how to "bracket" the animal with my Leupold, VXIII 4.5 x 14, Sans Leupold BCS dial. It was simple. The Belgian made, Browning, BAR 1, in .338 Winchester Magnum. Using Hornady SST's in 225 gr. The first shot parted his head laying down flat asleep. The second shot was delivered into the pumphouse of said Bull Elk, after he stood broadside; only plasma leaked back out the bullet hole. This ended things quickly and humanely. See: https://oregonpackworks.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/the-deadline-bull-by-karl-j-findling/
Coming Next, Part Three...
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