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Were they really?
02-08-2019, 01:49 AM
Post: #1
Were they really?
Often times we see someone say how much better the ODG's were than todays shooters.. Ok, but were they really?
If you take a look at the plots from their targets in Creedmoor, and then translate the hits into the targets we shoot today, I'm not convinced they were that much if any better than what we see today. Keeping in mind their targets were huge by comparison to what we shoot today. The bullseye was 36 inches in diameter, which is almost the 9 ring in todays targets. The centers went to 54 inches, which is just short of todays 7 ring. Outers went to 6 ft, which is where our targets today end with a score of six.
Granted they shot 15 rounds, no sighters and no spotter/coach, but when you start breaking things down we're looking at scores somewhere around the equivalent to mainly 70's and 80's and occasional 90 (rare then and now)in todays 10 shot matches, or something around 120-130 in todays occasional but really rare 15 round relay.

A wise man can always be found alone. A weak man can always be found in a crowd.
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02-08-2019, 09:14 AM
Post: #2
RE: Were they really?
I’ve had this internal discussion several time in the past few years. At first I used to say that the ODG’s couldn’t compete with our top shooters of today. When you really break it down though I think they could hold there own against today’s shooters. Think about everything, and I mean everything, they they were using as compared to today’s supplies and equipment.
Let’s break it down a little.
Barrels are made better with better steel, machining and tolerances.
Chambers are cut with better reamers and to stricter tighter tolerances.
The same thing goes for the sights and the triggers.

Bullet components are better.
Lead composition has better materials, more consistent hardness.
Moulds are awesome. Again, way better made.
Brass has to be more consistent and better made today.
Paper for wrapping bullets has to be more uniform and better made.
Cleaning materials and equipment.
Powder of today is better.
The list goes on and on.
When you truly break the equipment and supplies down with the technology used today in the manufacturing process and the technology to test it and supply your test results around the world to everyone, it creates this huge Petrie dish of results, and we learn from it and evolve in real time.

The ODG’s were true marksman in there day at that given point in history, as is ours is of today.
I know that if you could bring back one of the top shooters from the 1874 Creedmoor match and give him the equipment and components we have today he would even be a better shooter, I’m sure of that.
Then if you take, let’s say Dave Gullo, and send him back to 1874 and he can ONLY use what was available then for equipment and supplies, would he be unbeatable?
I just don’t know. He’s a darn good shot, way better than I am, but let him put on a pair of 1874 bifocals and see how he does with that equipment.
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02-08-2019, 09:56 AM (This post was last modified: 02-08-2019 09:58 AM by Kurt.)
Post: #3
RE: Were they really?
In the past it was the shooter and his rifle on line. Now days we have a shooter and a coach on line. Take away the spotter the scores now days would be lower with most shooters.
When you look at the scoring hits those guys shot in the past, they sure looked good.
Tooling.....yes, now days tooling is good but I had rifles that had very good bores. Some times the softer iron used in the past for barrels had some benefits.
Also now days we use a rest to lay the barrel on something they didn't use back then.

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02-08-2019, 10:22 AM
Post: #4
RE: Were they really?
Kevin, I don't know about the rifles being better now than then. Keeping in mind that the target rifles offered by Remington and most especially Sharps were what we would call "blue printed" rifles today. Those target rifles were built by the master craftsmen in the factory. Sharps assembled ammunition specifically for each target rifle, and spec'd it out, so that the new owner could order components specifically for that rifle. I will say that I do believe todays production rifles from Shiloh and Zimmerman, and C Sharps are the same hand assembled quality of the target rifles today.
I will concede the better quality brass. Another quite interesting read on that is HD Dodges articles he wrote about the work he and the Winchester and Springfield Armory did on making the Krag a viable long range rifle.
But I don't know if I would go so far as to better lead. Also keeping in mind that the bullets sold for target use were swaged from castings. Winchester and Remington both would supply bullets to the configuration and wrapped in the manner with the weight of paper that the customer requested.
Sights today are superior in that the soul sights we use are a much better option, than the limited wind adjustment on the rear sights, and the windguage fronts used back then.
One thing that really strikes me is the vertical those ODG's managed to keep with in just a few minutes. Their biggest bugaboo was the wind, and that shows in the horizontal plots of the targets. We can also credit that to the lack of a spotter. This is one of the things that really becomes apparent when you shoot in something like the Creedmoor Cup match at Lodi or the High Plains Challenge match at Byers. It will be interesting to see how many accept that challenge and compete in the Rifleman class of the BPTRA matches.
The use of cross sticks and wrist rests today is a definite advantage over the no artificial support rules of back in the day.
One of the things that might show how they were getting the good results of the day with the heavy/longer bullets, is the number of shooters that shot by muzzle loading their rifles. Perry's book indicates that those guys were basically using their rifle barrels for a drop tube, and that many that muzzle loaded did not use any sort of wad, due to them pouring more powder down the tube than the case would hold. It sort of took balls of steel or an almost death wish to put a primed case in the action close the breech and pour the powder charge down the muzzle. I can only imagine the hew and cry coming from every direction is someone tried that at one of today's matches. Smile

Along with Dave, I can think of a handful of shooters today that would include names like Taylor, Schuenke, Gregg, Kluskens, Porter, Ahmer, Rix, and Moritz and more that all have the mind set and ability of those of Bodine, Gildersleeve and Hyde's ability.

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02-08-2019, 11:23 AM
Post: #5
RE: Were they really?
I think that the old time shooters were basically the same skill level as our current top shooters. I don't think the passage of time has changed anything to do with skill.

I think that there are some advantages that modern shooters have over the old dead guys, but then, the old dead guys were quite young and probably had better eye sight :-)

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02-08-2019, 03:59 PM
Post: #6
RE: Were they really?
One thing the 1879 Creedmoor and today's Creedmoor national match is both had 30 shooters.

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02-08-2019, 06:26 PM
Post: #7
RE: Were they really?
I think they did quite well changing from cap locks to cartridge rifles in the short 10-15 year time span. Some of us have been doing this for 65 years and still changing how we do it Smile

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02-11-2019, 01:43 AM
Post: #8
RE: Were they really?

I don't believe that everything today is better than it was then.
Yes, we can do much tighter machine work.
I believe lead and lead alloy quality and consistency was pretty good: Refining of lead has been going on for thousands of years, and it has been dialed in for quite some time.
I believe the older powder was better: It actually developed more velocity than new powder does.
Somewhere along the line, tribal knowledge in powder making was lost, and we haven't figured it out again yet.
Manufacturing is where Art meets Science, and there is a lot more going on than just getting the proportions right and wantonly grinding the powder.

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02-11-2019, 07:58 AM
Post: #9
RE: Were they really?
I truly believe that everything we us today is better, when I say better I mean more consistent.

The lead composition we can test, with absolute certainty, what it is down to the thousands of a percent with a hand help device that gives you the answer in seconds.
How did they test their lead in 1800s? How did they test for hardness? After they tested for hardness, how did they determine how much tin was in it? When they added tin how did they know it was 100% tin with no additives.

You don’t think moulds are better today?
You don’t think brass is better?
You don’t think primers are better?
You don’t think barrels are better made today?

There is no proof that powder is better. Just a higher velocity is not better. How did they deduce their velocity back in 1870 vs how we deduce ours of today? That method is better today.

I am not saying what was made back then was junk, I’m just saying that the top of the line shooting equipment and materials used today goes through more precise method of manufacturing and testing.

It’s easy for everyone to say, the old ways we’re better, but we have no proof.

Agree to disagree.

I’m probably a little biased as I work in the advanced technology field of today and it changes every day. Most people over 50 have no clue what’s going on and let me tell you it’s down right scary.
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02-11-2019, 08:24 AM (This post was last modified: 02-11-2019 08:25 AM by Kevin Alexander.)
Post: #10
RE: Were they really?
Back to the original question of the ODG vs today’s top Creedmore shooters. I’m saying that today’s top Creedmoor shooter given a 10 pound rifle with a 3 pound trigger pull and using no rest would surprise me if they beat the ODG’s score. I’m not saying that today’s shooter aren’t crazy good shots, what I am saying is the ODG were good enough to put tuff stricter rules in place to weed out the chaff.

It’d be easy to test that theory.

Just saying.
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