October 6th, 2017

Mad Minute Marksmanship — The One-Minute Lee-Enfield Drill

Lee Enfield Mad Minute one-minute rifle drill British Army Gary Eliseo Dennis Santiago
British Lee-Enfield Model SHT’22/IV Rifle, courtesy www.iCollector.com.

Our friend Dennis Santiago was a technical advisor for History Channel’s Top SHOT TV show. One of the notable Top Shot episodes involved the “Mad Minute”, a marksmanship drill practiced by the British Army in the decades preceding World War I. Dennis observed that the Top Shot competitors didn’t fare too well in their “Mad Minute” attempts, not scoring many hits in the alloted one-minute time period. That prompted Dennis to give it a try himself — seeing how many hits he could score in one minute with an authentic Lee-Enfield rifle. So, a while back, Dennis ran the drill at a range in California.

Dennis, an active high power rifle competitor and instructor, enjoyed his “Mad Minute” exercise, though he assures us that this takes practice to perfect. Dennis tells us: “Here is a ‘Mad Minute’ drill, done using a period correct Lee-Enfield (SMLE) No.1 Mk III rifle and Mk VII ammo. I got to the Queen’s Regulations (15 hits in one minute) on the second run and put a good group on the target at 200 yards. This is ‘jolly good fun’ to do every once in a while. This is ‘living history’ — experiencing a skill from a time when the sun never set on the British Empire.”

Dennis Does the Mad Minute

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IV
British Lee-Enfield Model SHT’22/IV Rifle, courtesy www.iCollector.com.

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IVLee-Enfield No. 4 Rifle (1943), courtesy Arundel Militaria.

“Mad Minute” was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits onto a 12″ round target at 300 yards within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits. (From WikiPedia.)

Want to See More “Mad Minute” Action with a Modern Tubegun?
In 2012, Gary Eliseo ran a “Mad Minute” exercise using a modern, .308 Win Eliseo RTM Tubegun of his own making. Gary ended up with 24 hits on a bull target set at 300 yards. (Gary actually had 25 hits in 25 rounds fired, but the last round hit just after the 60-second time period expired.) Note how Gary pulls the trigger with the middle finger of his right hand. This allows him to work the bolt faster, using his thumb and index finger. CLICK HERE for Eliseo Tubegun Mad Minute story.

Watch Gary Elesio Shoot the ‘Mad Minute’ (Starts at 4:47 on Video)

NOTE: In an interesting coincidence, Dennis Santiago was actually in the pits pulling targets for Gary during Eliseo’s 2012 “Mad Minute” exercise.

History of the Mad Minute
Commentary by Laurie Holland
The original military requirement of the “Mad Minute” saw the soldier ready to fire with a round in the chamber, nine in the magazine, safety on. This course of fire is still followed by the GB Historic Breechloading Arms Association and other bodies in their recreated “Mad Minute” competitions.

The first 10 would go quickly, but reloads were critical, this not done by a magazine change as Gary did with the RTM or in a modern tactical or semi-auto rifle, but through slick use of ‘chargers’. It is this aspect which fouls so many of my colleagues up as it is very easy to cause a jam and a large part of 60 seconds can go in sorting it out!

Charger clips were selected for those that just held the rounds firmly enough to stop then falling out, were sand-papered and polished with a stove / fireplace polish called ‘Zebrite’ so that the rimmed rounds would slip through the clips like corn through a goose.

lee enfield 1916 rifle

If you’re unfamiliar with the cock-on-closing Enfield action, it seems clumsy. With intensive practice it is very smooth and can be operated incredibly quickly. The trick is to whip the bolt back onto its stop and initiate a rebound movement that takes it and the cartridge well into the chamber thereby reducing the effort required to close the bolt and chamber the round.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills, Tactical 2 Comments »
June 17th, 2016

Stangskyting — Amazing Bolt Action Rifle Speed Shooting

How fast can you shoot a bolt-action rifle? We doubt you can out-pace the ace “Stangskyting” shooters from Scandinavia. Some of these guys can run more than two rounds per second, including mag changes! That’s impressive. Bulletin reader C. Lemmermann from Denmark told us: “In Scandinavia we have this competition called ‘Stangskyting’. It’s similar to the ‘Mad Minute’ but we only have 25 seconds to hit the target [at] 200-300m distance with a 6.5×55 [target rifle].” In the Stangskyting video below a shooter named Børklop puts 16 rounds on target in just 25 seconds. (He starts with a round in the chamber and cycles through three, 5-round magazines). Børklop’s performance, with just a sling and iron sights, is impressive. He’s shooting a Sauer 200 STR target rifle with 5-round magazine. Note that Børklop manipulates the Sauer’s bolt with his thumb and index finger, while pulling the trigger with his middle finger. As good as Børklop is, some Stangskyting competitors are even better. Roy Arne Syversrud from Oslo, Norway tells us: “The best shooters in Norway can do 21 shots in 25 seconds, changing the mag three times.”

This Guy Could Break the “Mad Minute” Record
Børklop’s rate of fire, 16 rounds in 25 seconds, is the equivalent of 38.4 rounds in 60 seconds. That’s a notable number because the record for the “Mad Minute”, a British Army marksmanship drill, is 38 rounds in one minute. That record was set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, and still stands. So as you watch Børklop, keep in mind that Snoxall shot that fast for a full minute with a Lee-Enfield nearly 100 years ago!

Børklop has an average cycling time of 1.56 seconds per shot, starting with a round in the chamber. To beat the record of 38 rounds, he would need to make seven mag changes in sixty seconds. All those mag swaps could reduce his average time per shot, making it difficult to achieve 38 hits in a minute. But, if Børklop could use 10-round mags with his Sauer STR, this guy has the skills to break the record.

Sauer 200 STR Target Rifle

To emphasize the capabilities of the WWI-era British shooter who set the record, Snoxall shot as fast as Børklop does, but Snoxall reloaded with stripper clips. Snoxall’s SMLE (Lee-Enfield) rifle also had relatively crude open sights and the stock was far less ergonomic than Børklop’s Sauer STR stock.

Here’s another Stanskyting video showing John O. Ågotnes shooting rapidfire with his Sauer 200 STR (Scandinavian Target Rifle) chambered in 6.5×55. By our count, Ågotnes manages 17 shots within the 25-second time period. That rate of fire (17 in 25 seconds) equates to 40.8 rounds in one minute!

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 10 Comments »
January 24th, 2016

Dennis Santiago Shoots the Mad Minute with a Lee-Enfield

Dennis Santiago mad minute
British Lee-Enfield Model SHT’22/IV Rifle, courtesy www.iCollector.com.

This past week, at SHOT Show, we met up with our friend Dennis Santiago. We chatted about Dennis’s experiences as a technical advisor for History Channel’s Top SHOT TV show. One of the notable Top Shot episodes involved the “Mad Minute”, a marksmanship drill practiced by the British Army in the decades preceding World War I. Dennis observed that the Top Shot competitors didn’t fare too well in their “Mad Minute” attempts, not scoring many hits in the alloted one-minute time period. That prompted Dennis to give it a try himself — seeing how many hits he could score in one minute with an authentic Lee-Enfield rifle. So, a while back, Dennis ran the drill at a range in California.

Dennis Does the Mad Minute:

Dennis, an active high power rifle competitor and instructor, enjoyed his “Mad Minute” exercise, though he assures us that this takes practice to perfect. Dennis tells us: “Here is a ‘Mad Minute’ drill, done using a period correct Lee-Enfield (SMLE) No.1 Mk III rifle and Mk VII ammo. I got to the Queen’s Regulations (15 hits in one minute) on the second run and put a good group on the target at 200 yards. This is ‘jolly good fun’ to do every once in a while. This is ‘living history’ — experiencing a skill from a time when the sun never set on the British Empire.”

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IVLee-Enfield No. 4 Rifle (1943), courtesy Arundel Militaria.

“Mad Minute” was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits onto a 12″ round target at 300 yards within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits. (From WikiPedia.)

History of the Mad Minute
Commentary by Laurie Holland
The original military requirement of the “Mad Minute” saw the soldier ready to fire with a round in the chamber, nine in the magazine, safety on. This course of fire is still followed by the GB Historic Breechloading Arms Association and other bodies in their recreated “Mad Minute” competitions.

The first 10 would go quickly, but reloads were critical, this not done by a magazine change as in a modern tactical or semi-auto rifle, but through slick use of ‘chargers’. It is this aspect which fouls so many of my colleagues up as it is very easy to cause a jam and a large part of 60 seconds can go in sorting it out!

Charger clips were selected for those that just held the rounds firmly enough to stop then falling out, were sand-papered and polished with a stove / fireplace polish called ‘Zebrite’ so that the rimmed rounds would slip through the clips like corn through a goose.

lee enfield 1916 rifle

If you’re unfamiliar with the cock-on-closing Enfield action, it seems clumsy. With intensive practice it is very smooth and can be operated incredibly quickly. The trick is to whip the bolt back onto its stop and initiate a rebound movement that takes it and the cartridge well into the chamber thereby reducing the effort required to close the bolt and chamber the round.

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
May 29th, 2014

Santiago Does the ‘Mad Minute’ with Authentic Lee-Enfield

Our friend Dennis Santiago recently recreated the “Mad Minute”, a marksmanship drill practiced by the British Army in the decades preceding World War I. Dennis, an active high power rifle competitor and instructor, enjoyed his “Mad Minute” exercise, though he assures us that this takes practice to perfect. Dennis tells us: “Here is a ‘Mad Minute’ drill, done using a period correct Lee-Enfield (SMLE) No.1 Mk III rifle and Mk VII ammo. I got to the Queen’s Regulations (15 hits in one minute) on the second run and put a good group on the target at 200 yards. This is ‘jolly good fun’ to do every once in a while. This is ‘living history’ — experiencing a skill from a time when the sun never set on the British Empire.”

Dennis Does the Mad Minute

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IV
British Lee-Enfield Model SHT’22/IV Rifle, courtesy www.iCollector.com.

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IVLee-Enfield No. 4 Rifle (1943), courtesy Arundel Militaria.

“Mad Minute” was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits onto a 12″ round target at 300 yards within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits. (From WikiPedia.)

Want to See More “Mad Minute” Action with a Modern Tubegun?
In 2012, Gary Eliseo ran a “Mad Minute” exercise using a modern, .308 Win Eliseo RTM Tubegun of his own making. Gary ended up with 24 hits on a bull target set at 300 yards. (Gary actually had 25 hits in 25 rounds fired, but the last round hit just after the 60-second time period expired.) Note how Gary pulls the trigger with the middle finger of his right hand. This allows him to work the bolt faster, using his thumb and index finger. CLICK HERE for Eliseo Tubegun Mad Minute story.

Watch Gary Elesio Shoot the ‘Mad Minute’ (Starts at 4:47 on Video)

NOTE: In an interesting coincidence, Dennis Santiago was actually in the pits pulling targets for Gary during Eliseo’s 2012 “Mad Minute” exercise.

History of the Mad Minute
Commentary by Laurie Holland
The original military requirement of the “Mad Minute” saw the soldier ready to fire with a round in the chamber, nine in the magazine, safety on. This course of fire is still followed by the GB Historic Breechloading Arms Association and other bodies in their recreated “Mad Minute” competitions.

The first 10 would go quickly, but reloads were critical, this not done by a magazine change as Gary did with the RTM or in a modern tactical or semi-auto rifle, but through slick use of ‘chargers’. It is this aspect which fouls so many of my colleagues up as it is very easy to cause a jam and a large part of 60 seconds can go in sorting it out!

Charger clips were selected for those that just held the rounds firmly enough to stop then falling out, were sand-papered and polished with a stove / fireplace polish called ‘Zebrite’ so that the rimmed rounds would slip through the clips like corn through a goose.

lee enfield 1916 rifle

If you’re unfamiliar with the cock-on-closing Enfield action, it seems clumsy. With intensive practice it is very smooth and can be operated incredibly quickly. The trick is to whip the bolt back onto its stop and initiate a rebound movement that takes it and the cartridge well into the chamber thereby reducing the effort required to close the bolt and chamber the round.

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills 17 Comments »
December 12th, 2013

Greatest Hits: Rockin’ the ‘Mad Minute’ with Gary Eliseo

We were talking with TubeGun builder Gary Eliseo recently, and the subject of his “Mad Minute” fun match came up. A while back, at our suggestion, Gary re-created the one-minute rapid fire marksmanship training drill done by British riflemen. Using a Competition Machine TubeGun, Gary managed 24 hits in 60 seconds on a 300-yard target. Gary told us that people often ask about his “Mad Minute” experience, so today we’re reprising the story (with video) for those guys who missed it the first time around. Forum member Laurie Holland, who hails from Great Britain, also contributes a brief history of the “Mad Minute” and the Lee-Enfield (SMLE) rifle.

Mad Minute Gary EliseoLast year, the Top Shot TV show featured the “Mad Minute”, a high-speed drill requiring shooters to place as many hits as possible on a steel plate set at 200 yards. The time limit was one minute, and shooters were using historic Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles. Top Shot’s “Mad Minute” was based on a British Army training drill. Soldiers were expected to get at least 15 hits on an bullseye target at 300 yards. Top Shot cheated a bit, placing the target at 200 yards (instead of 300 in the real British Army “Mad Minute” drill). Still the two Top Shot shooters managed only six (6) shots each in one minute. Consider that a “passing score” for a Brit soldier was 15 hits, you have to give credit to those WWI-era Tommies.

Watch Gary Eliseo Shoot the ‘Mad Minute’ (Starts at 4:47 on Video)

Eliseo Gets 24 Hits on 300-yard Target in One Minute
Using an Eliseo RTM Tubegun chambered in .308 Winchester, Gary Eliseo attempted the “Mad Minute” last weekend. Gary ended up with 24 hits on a bull target set at 300 yards. That’s four times as many hits as the Top Shot competitors. Gary actually had 25 hits in 25 rounds fired, but the last round hit just after the 60-second time period expired. Note how Gary pulls the trigger with the middle finger of his right hand. This allows him to work the bolt faster, using his thumb and index finger. The straight-through (inline stock) design of the Tubegun allowed Gary to maintain his cheekweld and head position throughout the minute-long drill.

Gary Eliseo Mad Minute

Gary told us: “This isn’t easy. I came away very impressed with the training of the Tommy soldiers if they could make 15 hits in one minute. We had some skilled shooters who brought their own Lee-Enfields and they only did as well as the guys on Top Shot — making six or seven hits in a minute. The problem is that, with the cock-on-close operation of the Lee-Enfield, the gun would push away when the shooter closed the bolt, so the shooter would lose his sight picture, and have to re-center the rifle. I am truly astounded that the record for the ‘Mad Minute’ is 38 shots. That is hard to do with an AR, much less any bolt gun.”

Gary Hopes to Beat the ‘Mad Minute’ Record in the Future
The record for the “Mad Minute” — 38 shots on target at 300 yards — was set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall*. In the subsequent 98 years, that record has never been broken by any shooter with a conventional bolt-action rifle. Gary told us: “As long as that record still stands, I’m going to keep working at it. I know I lost a few seconds with mag changes. I think with some additional training, I can increase my score. Still, 38 hits is phenomenal. I am very, very impressed at what that guy did — it’s really mind-boggling to do that with an Enfield. Contrary to what has been written, those old Enfields are not that easy to shoot fast. Our club shooters found that out.”

* There is some uncertainty concerning the size of the target used by Snoxall. Some internet reports say the target was 12″ x 12″. Other posts, from England, suggest the target was 36″ by 36″. If the target was a 12″-diameter bull, Snoxall’s achievement is even more amazing.

‘Mad Minute’ and British Marksmanship with the SMLE (Lee-Enfield)
Commentary by Laurie Holland

The original military requirement of the ‘Mad Minute’ saw the soldier ready to fire with a round in the chamber, 9 in the magazine, safety on. This course of fire is still followed by the GB Historic Breechloading Arms Association and other bodies in their recreated ‘Mad Minute’ competitions.

The first 10 would go quickly, but reloads were critical, this not done by a magazine change as Gary did with the RTM or in a modern tactical or semi-auto rifle, but through slick use of ‘chargers’. It is this aspect which fouls so many of my colleagues up as it’s very easy to cause a jam and a large part of 60 seconds can go in sorting it out!

As well as the training Gary mentions and commends, there were pay incentives / penalties for certification or failure, and there were valuable monetary and kudos benefits in achieving very high hit counts in the 20 + range. Tommies could draw their rifles from the armory any time when off duty and spent hours in barracks practicing using inert rounds and dry firing. For instance, a common practice was to balance a halfpenny coin on the foresight blade between the sight protecting ears and take shot after shot prone on the barracks floor until the trigger was pressed and the ‘shot taken’ without the coin falling off its perch.

Charger clips were selected for those that just held the rounds firmly enough to stop then falling out, were sand-papered and polished with a stove / fireplace polish called ‘Zebrite’ so that the rimmed rounds would slip through the clips like corn through a goose.

If you’re unfamiliar with the cock-on-closing Enfield action, it seems clumsy. With intensive practice it is very smooth and can be operated incredibly quickly. The trick is to whip the bolt back onto its stop and initiate a rebound movement that takes it and the cartridge well into the chamber thereby reducing the effort required to close the bolt and chamber the round.

lee enfield 1916 rifle

None of this is to detract from the skill many of these guys had and the fantastic results they got both in rate of fire and accuracy out to 500/600 yards. That came from long days of live firing at full distances — far more practice than I’ll warrant US doughboys got at that time. The result was when the small British Expeditionary Force acted a blocking force against two advancing German infantry corps in Belgium in the autumn of 1914. Kaiser Wilhelm predicted confidently that his highly trained ‘Landsers’ would sweep this ‘contemptible little army’ aside. Instead, the Germans advancing in the open at ranges they felt was safe from rifle fire ran into a wall of lead of such a rate and accuracy that regimental commanders explained their failure to advance and massive casualties through the British having far more automatic weapons than their intelligence had briefed. The British survivors of that period adopted the self-styled title of ‘Old Contemptibles’ as an ironic rebuke to Wilhelm, one still used today. By Christmas 1914 that small and highly professional British army had been destroyed through attrition and army rifle competitions aside never achieved those riflecraft standards again — but of course that’s what a machinegun is for and it was criminal that BEF battalions (600-1,000 men) went to war with an establishment of only two Vickers-Armstrong machine-guns — a fraction of that in the opposing German units.

Permalink - Videos 5 Comments »
April 30th, 2012

Scandinavian Bolt-Rifle Speed Shooting — Stangskyting

Our story on Gary Eliseo’s “Mad Minute” drill drew comments from readers worldwide, including C. Lemmermann from Denmark, who wrote: “In Scandinavia we have this competition called ‘Stangskyting’. It’s similar to the ‘Mad Minute’ but we only have 25 seconds to hit the target [at] 200-300m distance with a 6.5×55 [target rifle].” In the Stangskyting video below a shooter named Børklop puts 16 rounds on target in just 25 seconds. (He starts with a round in the chamber and cycles through three, 5-round magazines). Børklop’s performance, with just a sling and iron sights, is impressive. He’s shooting a Sauer 200 STR target rifle with 5-round magazine. Note that Børklop manipulates the Sauer’s bolt with his thumb and index finger, while pulling the trigger with his middle finger.

This Guy Could Break the “Mad Minute” Record
Børklop’s rate of fire, 16 rounds in 25 seconds, is the equivalent of 38.4 rounds in 60 seconds. That’s a notable number because the record for the “Mad Minute”, a British Army marksmanship drill, is 38 rounds in one minute. That record was set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, and still stands. So as you watch Børklop, keep in mind that Snoxall shot that fast for a full minute with a Lee-Enfield nearly 100 years ago!

Børklop has an average cycling time of 1.56 seconds per shot, starting with a round in the chamber. To beat the record of 38 rounds, he would need to make seven mag changes in sixty seconds. All those mag swaps could reduce his average time per shot, making it difficult to achieve 38 hits in a minute. But, if Børklop could use 10-round mags with his Sauer STR, this guy has the skills to break the record.

Sauer 200 STR Target Rifle

To emphasize the capabilities of the WWI-era British shooter who set the record, Snoxall shot as fast as Børklop does, but Snoxall reloaded with stripper clips. Snoxall’s SMLE (Lee-Enfield) rifle also had relatively crude open sights and the stock was far less ergonomic than Børklop’s Sauer STR stock.

Here’s another Stanskyting video showing John O. Ågotnes shooting rapidfire with his Sauer 200 STR (Scandinavian Target Rifle) chambered in 6.5×55. By our count, Ågotnes manages 17 shots within the 25-second time period. That rate of fire (17 in 25 seconds) equates to 40.8 rounds in one minute!

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Shooting Skills 19 Comments »
April 29th, 2012

Gary Eliseo Runs ‘Mad Minute’ Drill with Modern Tubegun

Mad Minute Gary EliseoThe Top Shot TV show recently featured the “Mad Minute”, a high-speed drill requiring shooters to place as many hits as possible on a steel plate set at 200 yards. The time limit was one minute, and shooters were using historic Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles. Top Shot’s “Mad Minute” was based on a British Army training drill. Soldiers were expected to get at least 15 hits on an bullseye target at THREE hundred yards. Top Shot cheated a bit, placing the target at 200 yards (instead of 300 in the real British Army “Mad Minute” drill). Still the two Top Shot shooters managed only six (6) shots each in one minute. Consider that a “passing score” for a Brit soldier was 15 hits, you have to give credit to those WWI-era Tommies.

Watch Gary Elesio Shoot the ‘Mad Minute’ (Starts at 4:47 on Video)

Elesio Gets 24 hits on 300-yard Target in One Minute
Using an Eliseo RTM Tubegun chambered in .308 Winchester, Gary Elesio attempted the “Mad Minute” last weekend. Gary ended up with 24 hits on a bull target set at 300 yards. That’s four times as many hits as the Top Shot competitors. Gary actually had 25 hits in 25 rounds fired, but the last round hit just after the 60-second time period expired. Note how Gary pulls the trigger with the middle finger of his right hand. This allows him to work the bolt faster, using his thumb and index finger. The straight-through (inline stock) design of the Tubegun allowed Gary to maintain his cheekweld and head position throughout the minute-long drill.

Gary Eliseo Mad Minute

Gary told us: “This isn’t easy. I came away very impressed with the training of the Tommy soldiers if they could make 15 hits in one minute. We had some skilled shooters who brought their own Lee-Enfields and they only did as well as the guys on Top Shot — making six or seven hits in a minute. The problem is that, with the cock-on-close operation of the Lee-Enfield, the gun would push away when the shooter closed the bolt, so the shooter would lose his sight picture, and have to re-center the rifle. I am truly astounded that the record for the ‘Mad Minute’ is 38 shots. That is hard to do with an AR, much less any bolt gun.”

Gary Hopes to Beat the ‘Mad Minute’ Record in the Future
The record for the “Mad Minute” — 38 shots on target at 300 yards — was set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall*. In the subsequent 98 years, that record has never been broken by any shooter with a conventional bolt-action rifle. Gary told us: “As long as that record still stands, I’m going to keep working at it. I know I lost a few seconds with mag changes. I think with some additional training, I can increase my score. Still, 38 hits is phenomenal. I am very, very impressed at what that guy did — it’s really mind-boggling to do that with an Enfield. Contrary to what has been written, those old Enfields are not that easy to shoot fast. Our club shooters found that out.”

* There is some uncertainty concerning the size of the target used by Snoxall. Some internet reports say the target was 12″ x 12″. Other posts, from England, suggest the target was 36″ by 36″. If the target was a 12″-diameter bull, Snoxall’s achievement is even more amazing.

‘Mad Minute’ and British Marksmanship with the SMLE (Lee-Enfield)
Commentary by Laurie Holland

The original military requirement of the ‘Mad Minute’ saw the soldier ready to fire with a round in the chamber, 9 in the magazine, safety on. This course of fire is still followed by the GB Historic Breechloading Arms Association and other bodies in their recreated ‘Mad Minute’ competitions.

The first 10 would go quickly, but reloads were critical, this not done by a magazine change as Gary did with the RTM or in a modern tactical or semi-auto rifle, but through slick use of ‘chargers’. It is this aspect which fouls so many of my colleagues up as it’s very easy to cause a jam and a large part of 60 seconds can go in sorting it out!

As well as the training Gary mentions and commends, there were pay incentives / penalties for certification or failure, and there were valuable monetary and kudos benefits in achieving very high hit counts in the 20 + range. Tommies could draw their rifles from the armoury any time when off duty and spent hours in barracks practising using inert rounds and dry firing. For instance, a common practice was to balance a halfpenny coin on the foresight blade between the sight protecting ears and take shot after shot prone on the barracks floor until the trigger was pressed and the ‘shot taken’ without the coin falling off its perch.

Charger clips were selected for those that just held the rounds firmly enough to stop then falling out, were sand-papered and polished with a stove / fireplace polish called ‘Zebrite’ so that the rimmed rounds would slip through the clips like corn through a goose.

If you’re unfamiliar with the cock-on-closing Enfield action, it seems clumsy. With intensive practice it is very smooth and can be operated incredibly quickly. The trick is to whip the bolt back onto its stop and initiate a rebound movement that takes it and the cartridge well into the chamber thereby reducing the effort required to close the bolt and chamber the round.

lee enfield 1916 rifle

None of this is to detract from the skill many of these guys had and the fantastic results they got both in rate of fire and accuracy out to 500/600 yards. That came from long days of live firing at full distances — far more practice than I’ll warrant US doughboys got at that time. The result was when the small British Expeditionary Force acted a blocking force against two advancing German infantry corps in Belgium in the autumn of 1914. Kaiser Wilhelm predicted confidently that his highly trained ‘Landsers’ would sweep this ‘contemptible little army’ aside. Instead, the Germans advancing in the open at ranges they felt was safe from rifle fire ran into a wall of lead of such a rate and accuracy that regimental commanders explained their failure to advance and massive casualties through the British having far more automatic weapons than their intellignce had briefed. The British survivors of that period adopted the self-styled title of ‘Old Contemptibles’ as an ironic rebuke to Wilhelm, one still used today. By Christmas 1914 that small and highly professional British army had been destroyed through attrition and army rifle competitions aside never achieved those riflecraft standards again — but of course that’s what a machinegun is for and it was criminal that BEF battalions (600-1,000 men) went to war with an establishment of only two Vickers-Armstrong machine-guns — a fraction of that in the opposing German units.

Permalink - Videos, Competition 24 Comments »