March 17th, 2017

Top Ten Reasons Why Shooting is Tougher than Basketball

hap rocketto march madness basketball Top 10 hoops tournament

We are in the midst of “March Madness” — the annual NCAA college basketball tournament. Here’s a clever piece by Hap Rocketto that examines the game of B-Ball and explains why shooting targets is actually more difficult than shooting hoops. This story originally appeared in the Hap’s Corner section of Pronematch.com. Hap is a rare talent in the gun world — a serious shooter who also has unique insights, and a great sense of humor. We recommend you visit Pronematch.com to enjoy the many other interesting Hap’s Corner postings.


by Hap Rocketto
I know shooting is tougher than basketball…. Come on, just how difficult is it for five tall guys to help each other toss a big ball into a basket? Granted basketball is more physically demanding than shooting a rifle, but I think that blasting a quarter-size group into the center of the target at 100 yards all by yourself is a far more difficult task than working as a team to dunk a ball.

Therefore, in the style of Late Night talk show host David Letterman, I have constructed a list of ten reasons why rifle shooting is tougher than basketball.

TOP TEN REASONS Why Rifle Shooting is Tougher Than Basketball

10. When you get tired in basketball the coach just calls time out and replaces you with someone fresh. Not so in shooting.

9. When’s the last time a basketball player had to make a shot with the sun in his eyes?

8. How often does a basketball player have a perfectly good shot blown out by the wind?

7. If a basketball player places a shot a little higher than intended, no problem. The backboard causes the ball to bounce into the basket. No such luck in shooting.

6. Rifle matches commonly run all day. When was the last time you saw a basketball game run more than an hour or so?

5. If you’re not making your shots in basketball, you can just pass the ball to someone who is hot. No such convenience in shooting.

4. Rifle bullets travel faster than the speed of sound (roughly 300 meters per second). Basketballs top out at around 15 meters per second.

3. A basketball player can shoot from anywhere on the court that is convenient and comfortable. All riflemen shoot from the same distance.

2. A basketball player may shoot as often as the opportunity arises and is not limited to the number of shots taken. A rifle match requires that each rifleman shoot the same number of record shots. If they shoot more than allowed, then a penalty follows.

1. And the Number One reason why shooting is tougher than basketball is that, if you miss a shot in basketball you, or a team mate, can just jump up, grab the ball, and try again. Try that in shooting.

The only real similarity between the two sports is that a competitor attempts to score points by shooting. In rifle it is through a hard-hold and easy squeeze in prone, sitting, kneeling and standing; while in basketball it is via hook shots, jump shots, lay-ups, or the dramatic, ever crowd-pleasing, slam dunk.

About the Author: Hap Rocketto is a Distinguished Rifleman with service and smallbore rifle, member of The Presidents Hundred, and the National Guard’s Chief’s 50. He is a National Smallbore Record holder, a member of the 1600 Club and the Connecticut Shooters’ Hall Of Fame. A historian of the shooting sports, his work appears in Shooting Sports USA, the late Precision Shooting Magazine, The Outdoor Message, the American Rifleman, the CMP website, and Pronematch.com.

Credit John Puol for finding this article and communicating with Hap Rocketto.

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July 23rd, 2016

Maggie’s Drawers at Camp Perry

Ever wonder what “Maggie’s Drawers” means? Well, in the shooting community it means a complete miss on the target, as originally indicated by a large red flag. In this 1957 photo, the U.S. Army brought the targets to the students at the annual Small Arms Firing School. Wheeled carts with “demo” targets were positioned at the firing line, between shooting stations, so trainees could better see the procedures. Soldiers demonstrated firing a shot, scoring the target and scorecard on the Camp Perry firing line. Targets in use at the time were the “V” type. In this demonstration shot, the pit worker waves a red flag, known as “Maggie’s Drawers”, signifying a miss. This old photo comes from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Archives.

CMP Maggie's Drawers Camp Perry AccurateShooter.com

If you click the gray tab to view the photo full-screen, you can see something extra. Look carefully at the horizon below the muzzle of the M1 Garand held by the shooter in the foreground. If you look carefully, you can see a crane being used to erect the beach tower that now watches over Lake Erie and the ranges when they are “hot”.

Origin of ‘Maggie’s Drawers’ Term
CMP Maggie's Drawers Camp Perry AccurateShooter.comHap Rocketto, noted shooting historian, has explained the etymology of “Maggie’s Drawers”. This term “refers to the red flag waved vigorously across the face of the target to signify a complete miss of the target during practice”. The term came in use in the early 20th Century (prior to WWI) when flags were used to signal shot locations on long-range rifle targets.

Hap writes: “Since [the early 20th Century] the target has changed to the decimal bull and the marking system has been revised several times. Flags are no longer used, being replaced by value panels and chalk boards. However, one term from the flag days has held on with a tenacity that is indicative of the strong traditions of the high power community. If a shooter had the misfortune of firing a miss a red flag was waved across the front of the target. The flag is commonly known as ‘Maggie’s Drawers’ giving us the term now generally used to refer to a miss. The term ‘Maggie’s Drawers’ seems to be based on, as many things are in the military, a bawdy song. Prior to The Great War there was an old music hall song entitled The Old Red Flannel Drawers That Maggie Wore which [was creatively altered], as things tend to be by the troops, into something less delicate than might have been sung in vaudeville in the United States or in British music halls of the day.”

Visit Southwest Rifle Shooting Blog, to read the full story about the origin of Maggie’s Drawers. Hap even includes the naughty lyrics of the old music hall song that gave rise to the expression.

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March 24th, 2016

March Madness — Why Shooting Is Harder Than Basketball

Basketball Hap Rocketto March Madness

We are in the midst of “March Madness” — the annual NCAA college basketball tournament. Here’s a clever piece by Hap Rocketto that examines the game of B-Ball and explains why shooting targets is actually more difficult than shooting hoops. This story originally appeared in the Hap’s Corner section of Pronematch.com. Hap is a rare talent in the gun world — a serious shooter who also has unique insights, and a great sense of humor. We recommend you visit Pronematch.com to enjoy the many other interesting Hap’s Corner postings.


by Hap Rocketto
I know shooting is tougher than basketball…. Come on, just how difficult is it for five tall guys to help each other toss a big ball into a basket? Granted basketball is more physically demanding than shooting a rifle, but I think that blasting a quarter-size group into the center of the target at 100 yards all by yourself is a far more difficult task than working as a team to dunk a ball.

Therefore, in the style of Late Night talk show host David Letterman, I have constructed a list of ten reasons why rifle shooting is tougher than basketball.

TOP TEN REASONS Why Rifle Shooting is Tougher Than Basketball

10. When you get tired in basketball the coach just calls time out and replaces you with someone fresh. Not so in shooting.

9. When’s the last time a basketball player had to make a shot with the sun in his eyes?

8. How often does a basketball player have a perfectly good shot blown out by the wind?

7. If a basketball player places a shot a little higher than intended, no problem. The backboard causes the ball to bounce into the basket. No such luck in shooting.

6. Rifle matches commonly run all day. When was the last time you saw a basketball game run more than an hour or so?

5. If you’re not making your shots in basketball, you can just pass the ball to someone who is hot. No such convenience in shooting.

4. Rifle bullets travel faster than the speed of sound (roughly 300 meters per second). Basketballs top out at around 15 meters per second.

3. A basketball player can shoot from anywhere on the court that is convenient and comfortable. All riflemen shoot from the same distance.

2. A basketball player may shoot as often as the opportunity arises and is not limited to the number of shots taken. A rifle match requires that each rifleman shoot the same number of record shots. If they shoot more than allowed, then a penalty follows.

1. And the Number One reason why shooting is tougher than basketball is that, if you miss a shot in basketball you, or a team mate, can just jump up, grab the ball, and try again. Try that in shooting.

The only real similarity between the two sports is that a competitor attempts to score points by shooting. In rifle it is through a hard-hold and easy squeeze in prone, sitting, kneeling and standing; while in basketball it is via hook shots, jump shots, lay-ups, or the dramatic, ever crowd-pleasing, slam dunk.

About the Author: Hap Rocketto is a Distinguished Rifleman with service and smallbore rifle, member of The Presidents Hundred, and the National Guard’s Chief’s 50. He is a National Smallbore Record holder, a member of the 1600 Club and the Connecticut Shooters’ Hall Of Fame. A historian of the shooting sports, his work appears in Shooting Sports USA, the late Precision Shooting Magazine, The Outdoor Message, the American Rifleman, the CMP website, and Pronematch.com.

Credit John Puol for finding this article and communicating with Hap Rocketto.

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