Before a man goes on the range to fire, three things are absolutely necessary. He must know (1) How to set the sight; (2) How to sight or aim; (3) How to hold the rifle in all positions and the general principal for all shooting, such as squeezing the trigger, not canting the rifle, etc. If he does not know these things, it is worse than useless for him to fire. He will not improve and the more he shoots the worse he will shoot, and it will become more difficult to teach him. It is not sufficient merely to tell him or show him these things, he must be required to do them him-self and to show his instructor that he thoroughly understands them.

U.S. Marine Corps Score Book, 1916


The instructor, before men are marched to the range, should inspect rifles, see that sights are blackened, shoulders and elbows padded, and that the men have pencils and score books. He should read aloud the IMPORTANT RANGE RULES in this book. Before falling out at the range he should assign scorers, coaches and men to tar-gets. He should announce before beginning fire at each range the value of a change of a quarter of a point of windage and of 25 yards in elevation, also the force and direc-tion of the wind, the direction of the sun and the windage required.

U.S. Marine Corps Score Book, 1916


After three or four weeks at the Maneuver Grounds, the "noncom" gathers his company, now out-grown the awkward period, and hikes them five miles to the Can-onment (Training) Camp. From there they are scheduled to make daily walks to the Rifle Range, three miles away, spending their days at the range, and hiking back every evening to their new quarters. Before the actual firing begins, the recruits first practice "snapping in." They set the sights according to directions, making allowance for windage and distance, and "snap" at the targets. During this practice they are drilled in "extended order," run down the field deployed as "skirmishers," and snap their rifles from the standing, kneeling, sitting & prone positions.

The Recruiters' Bulletin, October 1917


"Important Range Rules" should be read to the assembled coaches, scorers and firing party before they fall out of ranks.
~When on the range the bolts of all rifles must be drawn fully back and the chambers kept open at all times when the firer is not at the firing point, and the rifle must not be loaded until immediately before it is to be fired.
~Blacken your sights.
~Have your rifle clean.
~Have pencil and score book.
~Study the diagram target in the score book before shooting at each range.
~Ask an experienced shot what windage to start with.
~Tell scorer your name and initials and watch him write it.
~Do not snap behind the line. If you wish to snap at target get fully abreast of the firers. You are welcome on uncrowded firing lines, except in matches.
~Keep rifle unloaded when not on firing line.
~Keep your ammunition clean and in the shade.
~Keep muzzle to the front whe-ther loaded or not.
~Squeeze the trigger and get each shot off without a jerk.
~Try to maintain aim during firing. This will cure flinching.
~Call each shot aloud at once. If you have no coach, call it aloud to yourself.
~Pay strict attention to the scorer when he announces your name and value of your shot.
~When your score is finished, examine your score and total on the score board.
~When you leave the range go at once to the cleaning rack.

U.S. Marine Corps Score Book, 1916


We had early mess the next morning & marched out to the rifle range. We were assigned 16 men to an instructor, teaching the fine points. How to hold & aim our gun & adjust the leather sling on our left arm; how to load & unload & to squeeze the trigger & not pull it. It was real interesting. We were taught how to fire standing, sitting, squatting, or from standing position to fall on our stomack & not get hurt, & fire 10 rounds in 10 seconds & hit the targets. We had a week of this training.
J.E. Rendinell, One Man's War.


....Then the first day of real firing. Each recruit had a coach. We started shooting at 200 yds slow firing, the first day. My first shot I missed the target completely. The coach sat on my back & said "Squeeze that trigger, don't pull it. Keep your eyes open, too. Now fire." I did better. Back to 300 yds, a little better still, for I was getting to know my gun. That was all for one day. The next day rapid firing at 200~300~500 yards & slow firing at 600 yards. We had two weeks of steady firing on the range every day.
J.E. Rendinell, One Man's War.


The coach should be on the firer's right. He sees that the sights are black and are set properly, requires the firer to explain the line of sight and how to aim, requires the firer to take the proper position with the strap the proper length, the jaw hard against the stock, thumb not across the stock; requires the firer to snap at least twice and that he squeezes the trigger properly; requires the firer to call the shot immediately, even in snapping. He advises the firer how to change the sights to bring the hits to the bull's-eye, and inspects sights each time they are changed. He watches every detail carefully and corrects all faults, and gives any necessary instruction. He requires the firer to keep his score book properly. He sees that the rifle is unloaded before the firer leaves the firing point. A coach is indispensable at each firing point. There should always be one on duty at each firing point even in record practice, when he is not to assist the firer, after he has taken position at the firing point to see that the requirements are carried out, and to guard against acccident and delay.

U.S. Marine Corps Score Book, 1916


Paris Island S.C. Aug - 19, 1917

Dear Bro, will write you a few lines, as we are on the rifle Range now and we have more time to our selves. We get up at 5.00, have physical exercise under arms for 30 or 45 minutes. That is all till Breadfast at 7.00, then we must clean up our selves, our quarters, rifles and every thing around the Barracks, and wash our dirty clothes. We are on the range at 11.00 o'clock and leave at 2.30, march back to dinner at 3.00 and due back at the range at 4.00, and stay till dark, supper at 7.30 or 8.00. Its 2 miles to the range. We are just snapping in this week, learning how to ajust our sights, and wind gauge. We shoot 60 shots a day.

10 from 200 yd line, rapid fire
10 from 300 yd line, rapid fire
10 " 500 " " " "
10 " 600 " " slow fire
10 " 500 " " " "
10 " 300 " " " "

Then we have several different possitions to fire from, as kneeling, sitting, and laying down. We don't fire a shot standing. Marksman: 202 points, Sharpshooter: 237 points, Expert rifleman, 255 points, out of a possible 300. Those are the different qualifications a man can make, and believe me, a 8 inch Bulls eye at 600 yeards is a dam small thing to shoot at. A target is 4 ft square. Bulls eye counts 5 and a hit anywhere on the target counts 2. No difference if you hit the parapet in front and glance. Rapid fire at 200 yds must fire 10 shots in 1 minute standing up till the word to kneel. Rapid fire at 300 yds we get 1.10 sec, standing up till the order to lye down, and at 500 we get 1.20 sec, so you see it takes some quick work and very few misses to make good, but I am not afraid but what I will make it for when I get laying in my possition with that sling around my shoulder and left hand, my rifle is almost as if it was in a vice. Our rifles are sighted for 3 miles and a 1/4, and are supposed to shoot thru a man at that distance.... Had a letter from Dubs and he says you are talking strong of joining the Army or Navy. Now Chink, take my advice and don't join any branch of the service till you have to. Everybody here, Captain, sargents, corporals, privates and the Chaplin all say to urge the farmers to stay at home. I think the Marines are the best branch of the service but are the most strict every way. They have more training than the army and Navy both to-gether and sure are strict with their men. The Marine must know a soldiers duty and a saylors duty, besides his own. Now Chink, if you will stick to the farm you can be your own boss in every thing... I think I can get a furlow before I report for service but don't know. We will have 3 or four weeks more on the Island, I think, then 4 or 5 months more training before we are Marines....

("Chink" did not heed his brother's advice but joined the Army that December, serving with the 21st Field Artillery, 5th Division, on the Western Front.)


At one point in the U.S. Marine Corps Score Book, the instructions read: "In case of more than 10 hits on a target, the target will not be marked, but the firing line will be notified." At least one such in-stance occured during August of 1917 when 86th Company was on the firing line. At a certain point during a round of firing, several targets were hit with more than 10 shots within a short space of time, most of the extra shots, as it happened, being bull's-eyes. Evidently, someone with a sure eye was hitting targets not his own. The mystery shots ceased abruptly when a ser-geant's boot tromped down squarely on the butt of a recruit who was firing in the prone position, the sergeant barking out ferociously, "All right, Appenheimer!"


Then came record day (early August 1917). I blacked my sights so the sun would not reflect on the middle. That morning was wonderful, an ideal day. We got our instructions & down we went to 200 yards. Qualified. 300 yds, same. 500~600 yards, same. At 1000 yards I missed one and got nine bull's eyes & qualified as a sharp-shooter, 251 out of 300 points. I sure was one happy boy. That meant three dollars more a month.

Rendinell, One Man's War


Thus far, I was getting along fine as a sharpshooter. July 27 (1917) was the last day of the shoot. It was very windy and many of the boys fell down on their scores. I fell down on the 200-yard slow fire kneeling, and on the 500-yard rapid fire. But I made 222 out of a possible 300, giving me marksmanship.

Gulberg, A War Diary


How did the Inspectors say your house looked?.... I would sure hate to be that fellow who must live 30 days on bread and water.... I suppose you have shot for record already.... I can't write much longer for I am expecting 3 men for dinner and have got to churn and work over about 12 lbs of butter, so you see I havn't any time for play....


....I am sorry you felt disappointed about your shooting but you have something to be thankful for, and that is that you didn't do like some and not qualify. There wasn't many that did better than you anyway. It must have been awful laying down and shooting in the rain....


26 Aug 1918 Dear Julia, We shot for record today and I qualified as "Marksman" which gives me a free pass overseas and a raise in salary of $2 per month. Unless a Ma-rine is a Marksman or better he can't do overseas duty, so I have qualified in the first test. As soon as NCO school is over, I am hoping for overseas duty, but may have to train a company of re-cruits before going over. At any rate, I have started and from now on hope to be of service to my country. Next week this life changes for me and there is a possibility that NCO School will be held at either Quantico, Chicago or Philadelphia. This is only the latest ru-mor so means but little. "Private Mac"


It takes a hard working, alert Co. of Marines to bring back with them from the rifle range such a record as the 82d made last week on re-cord day, and we, the men of that company, are justly proud of it. Believing that our record will be of interest to many in the training camp who have preceeded us on the range or are about to follow, we submit our figures for comparison. From among the 65 members of the company, fourteen of them qualified as Expert Riflemen. That in itself is very remarkable as few companies have more than seven or eight men in that class. The total points of all the men in th company were taken and the score of an average man of the 82d was figured. This average score was 232 points, only six short of the Sharp Shooter mark. Considering that 202 points qualifies a man for Marksman, we consider our record very good. We would like to hear of the prowess of some of our brother companies on the Range. Come on Ye Riflemen!

The Marine, March 6, 1918


Paris Island
in the
World War