by Tom Kelley

Before I start this months column, I want to thank the great guys and gal of The Alleghany Artillery for allowing me to fall in with them at the 138th Battle of Gettysburg. It was a great reenactment, and I know that the Confederate Artillery certainly had fun performing and talking with the attendees. I think we had 20 guns in the Confederate Artillery camp, and fielded 18 or 19 guns for each scenario. Thanks Dave, Vince, Barry, Muzzy and Linda. We had a good, safe time.

This month, I want to talk about what separates North-South Skirmishing from all others types of shooting - blackpowder or smokeless. Skirmishing is a Team Sport. You compete as a member of a team of three to eight shooters all working towards the same goal - the quick elimination of breakable targets. There is certainly no other shooting sport like it in the world. Take away the historical arms, the black powder propellant, the uniforms, and you still have a team sport. It is the very core of skirmishing. Our championship teams are comprised of individuals who have developed methods for dealing with the team concept of skirmishing and are successful as a team. Maybe we should start at the beginning, which for most skirmishers is the team approach to shooting.

Every skirmishing team has as it's main objective the elimination of x number of targets by y number of shooters. For example, a pistol team at a regional skirmish would face the challenge of eliminating 6 water filled soda cans by 3 shooters, or a musket team at a national skirmish would face the challenge of eliminating 32 clay pigeons on a cardboard backer by 8 shooters. In a perfect world, in both examples each shooter would accomplish the elimination of x / y targets.

How does a shooter know which targets to break? Most teams assign their targets to each shooter in some way, but not all teams use the same method. The more targets in the situation, the more variation there seems to be in the assignment of which targets to break. For instance, earlier this year, I witnessed a team that assigned the 32 pigeons on a backer in a very unorthodox manner. Most teams allocate the pigeon board by dividing the board into 8 vertical rows of 4 pigeons each, and assigning the vertical rows by line position. The shooter on the far right shoots the far right vertical row of pigeons, etc. This team, however, divided the pigeon board into 8 horizontal rows of 4 pigeons each. The top row of 8 targets was assigned to the two shooters on the far left and far right, and the horizontal rows were divided among shooters until the bottom two rows were assigned to the two center shooters. Given the fact that more than once I have faced the situation where I was punching the tabs out of the top two rows but couldn't hit a bottom pigeon to save me (or the team), I could see the value in this kind of system, as long as the team is happy with doing it that way. And, again, in that perfect world where each shooter breaks his assigned targets, there shouldn't be a problem. But alas, even skirmishing is not a perfect world.

2001 by Tom Kelley

return to homepage

go to Tony Beck index

go to Joe Bilby index

go to Tom Kelley index