Late Evening Shooting With the Small-Bore
 
By C. S. Landis        THE AMERICAN RIFLEMAN           April, 1930
 
ENGLISH shooting journals are giving quite a bit of space to accounts of night shooting with small-bore rifles, which is becoming fairly popular in Great Britain. It is a sport which has never been pushed in the United States, but there is no reason why it should not be, because weather conditions are so absolutely ideal as a rule for accurate small-bore shouting in late evening or the for part of the night that it is a wonder that American .22 cranks have never taken up the idea.

There is no rifle range in this country to my knowledge that is properly fitted up with electric lights for outdoor night shooting. If there is such a place it should be written up for this magazine, because our small-bore shooters should know what can be done with the .22 outdoors in those hours between quitting time at the office and bedtime at home  or that hour in the morning when the man of the house quietly sneaks in and upstairs.
 
The targets shown with this article may, I hope, help to impress small-bore shooters with the extraordinary degree of accuracy with which a small-bore rifle will shoot, between the hours of 5 p. m. and midnight. Whether you shoot by daylight or by artificial illumination makes very little difference.  Conditions as they affect the shooter are ahout the same. The light is nearly always uniform, and whatever change there is is due to a slowly fading light which has but one effect upon the target, and that is to make your group fall slowly out of the 10-ring at 6 o'clock.  If you are not shooting directly east or if there is a wind blowing, your group will probably slide out at 5 o'clock or at 7, due both to a decrease in the amount of light and a gradual falling off in the wind. The group will slide out in the direction of your absolute zero for that range as the wind decreases.

evening

Late evening shooting is practical at any time of year at which the shooter can fire in comfort. Late evening shooting in winter or early spring or late fall means, of course, before 5 o'clock in the evening on account of the short evening, Late evening shooting by daylight in summer may mean anything from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and, of course, that whole period from 4:30 up until this time. After that period you must use artificial illumination or quit. As most of us get through work at 4 to 5 p. m., there is ample opportunity for late evening small-bore shooting almost all over the United States. From the time one arrives at the range until at least 7 or 8 o'clock a person can shoot every evening except when there are thunderstorms; and it is possible to do very accurate work from 7 to 8 p.m. by dayight when using a telescopic sight, provided you are not in a dense wood, and you can often shoot up to 7:30 p.m. with iron sights with comfort and great accuracy.

As the longest day is about the 21st of June, June and July will of course give the longest evenings. The period for late daylight shooting will gradually decrease as the summer passes, and then about September 22 days and nights will be equal again and one can not see to shoot later than 5.30 to
7 p.m.. The actual time of stopping will of course depend upon the light of the range in question, the direction in which one is shooting; the amount of shade, if any, on the target, the kind of sights one is using, and whether it happens to be a clear or cloudy day.

About 1922, I believe, the reentry matches at the Sea Girt Tournament were arranged so as to form 100-shot competitions.  There was a special prize; and, of course, the attending honor of winning high score for the whole 10 targets in the iron-sight match at 100 yards; and the corresponding prize for the whole 10 targets which could be fired in the telescopic reentry at I00 yards. I determined to win those matches, if possible, and was successful in both because I fired 5,000 shots in practice previous to the matches, shooting 200 to 500 per afternnon or evening in strings of 100. There is no more similarity between the effort to shoot a 100 shot match and a 20-shot competition than there is between running a 2-mile race and a 100-yard dash. The reason these competitions are mentioned here is because they gave me the best opportunity I have ever had to see exactly how much a shooter's average will rise as the evening progresses. The decrease in the size of the groups, especially at 100 yards, is often astonishing.  The reasons they affect the average shooter are about as follows:  First, the heavy 3 o’clock mirage dies down. The result is a smaller vertical and a very much smaller horizontal. Next, the wind dies down. It often drops off quite sharply at about 4.30 in the summer, and from then until it is too dark to see (eliminating the evenings, of course, when there are  thunderstorms),  conditions are almost constant.  You don’t have to dope anything, except, of course, a slight and continuous decrease in ihe amount of illumination. This can be easily remedied by coming up a half minute or so in elevation as the shoot progresses. You may be using two or three more inches of elevation by the time you quit, but just the same you make more 10's.and The targets shown with this article may give a little better idea to those who have not tried it of the kind of 10-shot scores it is possible to shoot at 100 yards in the late evening.  The two groups which are numbered 68 were made by L. J. Miller, Captain of the Frankiord Arsenal Rifle Club, at one of the Sea Girt Small-Bore Tournments.   He was using iron sights, and finished at 100 yards during that period which is commonly known as the "golden hour" on the Sea Girt range.   The light was practically perfect. There was very little wind. The targets speak for themselves. Anyone who has shot on the Sea Girt range knows what a beautiful light there is on the targets late in the evening. No further explanation is necessary. For iron-sight shooting this pair are hard to beat. The othcr 20-shot score is one made between  7:30 and 8 p.m. on the 10th of August some years ago, Wind and light conditions were practically perfect. The range was along the southeastern edge of a very dense wood
. The timberr was high, and consequently the targets lookud much darker than on the average range at this time in the evening. Had I been firing on the 50-yard shooting point of the same range, similar light conditions would have existed for about an hour longer on the same evening. The mosquitoes, however, were frightful. It was necessary to get up and walk around five times during this 20-shot score to get rid of them. The sixth shot was pulled out. The other 19 will give an idea of The average accuracy obtainable with telescopic sights from a good rifle and good ammunition at this time in the evening. After the thirteenth shot it was impossible to spot the bullet holes with either the rifle scope or spotting scope, a fact that may have helped considerably in keeping them well within the 10-ring. These targets are no better and no worse than what many other shooters have done and can do under similar circumstances. They will be bettered occasionally, but, they may help to illustrate the idea that American small-bore shooters are overlooking a golden opportunity, and that is to do more late evening shooting. After 4 p.m. on the average day is when our Dewar matches ought to be shot, and it is when most of us will do our best shooting with either iron or scope sights. And as long as we work eight to ten hours a day it will be when the most of us wiil have the opportunity to do any kind of rifle shooting, except at the National Matches.

tele

There is absolutely nothing at all, except the lack of initiative, to keep us from having outdoor ranges illuminated for night shooting. The scores which are made each year in the Metropolitan Championship on the 100-yard indoor range in Brooklyn could be duplicated and in some cases even excecded, because the shooter would not be bothered by the smoke and poor illumination on the target. It would surely give an opportunity for small-bore shooting to a great many people who do not have it now and who are not likely to get it as long as the family likes to go out in the car on a Saturday afternoon, and as long as the average male gets hungry about 5:30 in the afternoon, especially after shooting, instead of going out and beginning about that time. The question of evening small-bore shooting is surely one that needs discussion in this publication.   Scores and groups are often the most convincing argument to the hard-shell small-bore shooter who is seldom convinced by anything else. Evening shooting in the open has, as a rule, but one discomfort, and that is mosquitoes at certain periods. It is much cooler and more comfortable than middle-of-the-day shooting in summer. The scores run higher and, therefore, the interest should be sustained better. It would be available to more people; and for the fellow who hasn't tried it… it is worth trying.

Article submitted by Donald G. MacChesney

Vintage Benchrest Historian