18th-CENTURY TARGET SHOOTING
Any true gentleman would never presume to take the field without first having tested his skill with his fowler. Firing at marks is yet another activity enjoyed by the Society of 18th-Century Gentlemen, and a variety of challenging shooting games are being devised at this very moment. Shooting of target clays, period targets and mock duels are all on the schedule and will be further expounded upon here in the future.
FIRING AT MARKS
Please pardon the redundancy of the visual at right, but as it illustrates the point so well it has been left in place.
Firing at marks is a simple gentlemanly sport that both entertains and helps develop proficiency with firearms. Regularly firing a smoothbore flintlock fowler can actually improve your aim and performance with modern weapons as well.
For firing at marks, the Society uses a simple target similar to that shown in the 18th-century engraving at right. The official Society target is based on this engraving with detail of the color and placement of scoring rings taken and a 1777 archery target. Original targets of this type often had additional artistic embellishment on them, but as this practice was not widespread in either England nor the Colonies, only the basic target will be used in our competitions. The target is laid out as follows:
The whole to be mounted upon a pole or stake, no wider than two inches with the narrowest dimension placed so as to face the shooters. The whole is to be driven into the ground so that the center of the "bull's eye" is approximately five feet above than the level of the ground at the firing line.
The firing line, that is, the point from which the targets are fired upon, is to be no less than twenty paces (about 50 feet) from the target for smoothbores, forty paces (about 100 feet) for rifles no matter their caliber. Only round lead balls are to be used, but they may be either patched or wadded according to the shooter's preference.
As we have found no period-correct scoring method to date, for the time being a scoring will be loosely based on an early 19th-century target from the Netherlands.
As the first to fire has a distinct advantage in shooting at an unspoiled target, that is, there are no holes in it to distract the shooter's aim, the range officer will walk down field to take the score, after which he plugs each hole with a tapered peg made expressly for the purpose. The shooter's initial or number (assigned beforehand) is inscribed on the peg as a way of settling any disputes. Thus filling the holes should help minimize confusion and distraction to future shooters.
While the range officer is at the butts performing his function, no shooter shall suffer to either load, prime, work on his flint or handle his firelock in any manner other than to support it by his side, hammer down, pan open and muzzle upward. Any who disobey this safety directive shall be disqualified from competition, forfeit any prize money and quite possibly receive a right proper spanking!
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