The Mad Minute
Marksmanship training in the British Army involved an exercise known as the ‘Mad Minute’ in which a soldier was expected to fire at, and hit, a 12” target 300 yards out at least 15 times. A trained rifleman could hit the target 30+ times with his Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle. At the turn of the century the British Army was the most professional in the world with each soldier trained to be an expert marksman. As such when the First World War began the average British rifleman could out shoot his German and French counterparts. At the Battle of Mons it was well documented that German infantry believed they were facing British battalions heavily equipped with machine guns rather than riflemen.
The record for the most hits on target during a ‘Mad Minute' stood at 38 hits in 60 seconds, set in 1914 by an Instructor Sergeant Alfred Snoxall. It has not been beaten since. Hitting the target 38 times would require him to fire the 10 rounds pre-loaded in the SMLE’s magazine and then reload 6 times with 5 round stripper clips. Add onto this that the rifle was a single shot, bolt action rifle which required the user to push up and retract the bolt and then return it forward pushing a new round into the chamber, then aiming and fire. All while maintaining his cheek weld and line of sight. This means Snoxall must have averaged around 1.5 seconds per shot to hit the target 38 times in a minute. Quite a feat.
Here is a short video of a SMLE owner attempting a very fast ‘Mad Minute’, he managed to fire 10 rounds in under 10 seconds. It certainly gives you some idea of what Snoxall and other professionals could achieve.