The Equipment: rifles and pellets


With practise and competition the standard of shooting improved, demanding more powerful and accurate air rifles.

Lincoln B.S.A. Militia and Original air rifles.

The early Gems and Britannias came to be replaced by Lincoln Jeffries and B.S.A.

Also available were imported German models, Haenal and Militia.

These were followed by the Webley and Scott Mk. III sporting version in .177 calibre, fitted with match sights.

Then, as now, harder competition demanded better and more advanced sights. The early air rifles relied on the simple vee and blade. But the orthoptics clamped under the caps and hats of the .22 men, and their adjustable backsights, would not be lost on the bell target fraternity. They had one of the best sight manufacturers in the world on their doorsteps and it was not long before adjustable peep sights were being fitted to their Lincoln and B.S.A. rifles: A.G. Parker, "old Alf", a well known marksman with the full-bore rifle, was making first class sights for the Wimbledon, and then Bisley, competitors.

Miss E. R. Parker, (Eleanor, his daughter), still runs the firm. One of the publications to be found on my bookshelf is her excellent book "A Century of Sights and Shooting Aids", signed by the good lady herself, showing again the impact that the Midlands has had on British shooting and the tools of the trade, as well as the excellence of marksmanship.

I am not the world's tallest chap but, in the left photo, you get an idea of how small and light the old bell target rifles were.  On the right, again standing in the Museum of Marksmanship, I am demonstrating the position the old bell target shooters would have adopted.
The stance used by the air gunners was the standard one for those days. The weight of the body was thrown slightly forward, the marksman leaning towards the target with the stock of the rifle held in the cup of his hand. This stance served them well, especially when they were using very lightweight rifles for short periods. But with heavier rifles and longer shooting sessions this stance soon caused tiredness and thus unsteadiness. In the modern stance, which bell target shooters would adopt to-day along with everyone else, has the body upright, so that the whole frame, not just the arm and shoulder support the weight; and the stock is supported on the fist.


Early pellets and their cardboard box container and an early tin of pellets.

Pellets, from a number of makers, were widely available in shops. But every shooting pub had a "penny in the slot" machine that dispensed so many pellets per coin.

It was more convenient to the poorer club shooter to purchase his pellets this way as the best "Arrite" pellets cost 1 shilling (5p) per thousand.

They were hand cast and examined for flaws or damage in the same way as a participant would in the higher echelons of today's National Squad membership.

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