Summer 2017: Our new Historic Rifle Day

Summer 2017 News: Launch of the WMS Historic Rifle Day

We’re delighted to announce the launch of the WMS Historic Rifle Day, a new and unique experience day which adds a further level of rifle shooting to our existing WMS Sniper and Sniper Plus Days. The Historic Rifle Day will appeal to anyone with an interest in military history, who wants to shoot the rifles their fathers/grandfathers shot in combat in the First and Second World Wars, and who would like to test their shooting skills with open-signed firearms.

Our Historical Rifle Day will be run by Andrew Venables, Lead Instructor and Owner at WMS Firearms Training, who will be providing the practical rifle shooting instruction, and Mark Khan, a keen rifle shooter and military historian who will talk you through the background, history and context of each historic rifle you shoot.

Mark joined the army in 1979 and served in the Royal Artillery in Germany and Northern Ireland. In 2006 he was part of the team that formed the UK’s biggest selling military history magazine, “Britain At War”. He has a specialist interest in the technical aspects of 20th/21st century warfare, focusing on weapons and ammunition, an area on which he has written widely.

Andrew has been shooting rifles since he was eight years old, shot with his school’s rifle shooting team and competed on the ranges at the National Shooting Centre at Bisley. He is now one of Europe’s best known rifle shooting instructors and regularly provides training to private clients from the UK, Europe and beyond, along with government departments, zoos and wildlife parks and NGOs.

Background to the day
DSC_0223In Great Britain, rifle-shooting excellence waxed and waned over the centuries. But never did the country need good riflemen to take up arms more than in the Great War of1914-18 and the Second World War of 1939-45.

During the initial stages of the First World War in 1914, Allied forces lost huge numbers of men on the Western Front to Germany’s highly efficient and superior snipers. This unnecessary loss of life prompted British army officer, Major Hesketh Vernon Hesketh-Pritchard (1876-1922) to promote and advance sniping practices, which led to the implementation of brand new sniping methods by the British Army.

Hesketh-Prichard’s background prior to war in 1914 was chiefly as a big-game hunter and he was regarded by some as the world’s best rifle shot. Securing a commission in the British Army with the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 he was given the post of “sniping expert” to the British Third Army in 2015 and immediately set about improving what he regarded as the deplorable standard of talent in British Army sniping. He initiated the inaugural sniper course “The First Army School of Sniping, Observing and Scouting”, and in 1920 wrote his critically acclaimed “Sniping in France”.

It was the new shooting practices defined and instigated by Hesketh-Prichard that contributed to the reversal of fortune of the Allied forces, tipping the balance in their favour towards victory in the sniping war.

Format of the WMS Historic Rifle Day

We start with a meet and greet at WMS HQ at 09.30 before travelling to the shooting area. The morning session includes shooting .22LR scoped and open sighted rifles as an intro. These rifles are the font of learning in relation to rifle shooting skills and clients will be encouraged to appreciate the difference, strengths and weaknesses of scoped versus non-scoped rifles.

We then move on to shooting our 45/70 Lever Action, an example of an early military rifle, with period 405gn loads. You will have five shots to experience of the old principle of big slow bullets, open sights and the first steps from volley fire to direct aimed fire.

The first afternoon session involves shooting a classic line up of European military rifles including:

• Lee Enfield .303 No.4
• Mauser 48 8x57JS
• Schmidt Rubin 7.5×55
• Mosin Nagant 7.62×54
• S1 AK 47 7.62×54

These rifles have the appropriate bayonets available for fitting and testing. Clients will be able to fire five shots with each rifle at 100m and then 10 shots at 200m enabling each firearm’s performance and handling to be contrasted and compared.

We then move on to the final session of the day shooting a scoped 7.62×51 sniper rifle versus a choice of the Lee Enfield or the Mosin Nagant. This session will be a five-shot challenge at 600-900m depending on the weather and overall ability of the group.

The two rifles, one with a rifle scope and one with open sights, will be shot side-by-side in a final comparison by clients. We may at our discretion add two further rifles if the group sizes requires more kit and we need time for barrels to cool!
The day will finish around 4.30pm when we return to WMS HQ for tea, cake and debrief.

The day is available to anyone over the age of 17 years old and no previous shooting experience is necessary. The maximum group size for the day is eight people (our first three days however will run with six), with two instructors and the cost includes use of our rifles and equipment, all ammunition (50 rounds of .22 and 40 rounds of centrefire), full instruction, insurance, historical information throughout the day, hot drinks, debrief over tea and cake, and certificate of attendance. Cost: £325 per person including VAT.

Dates available

Saturday 9th September (three places out of six left)
Sunday 24th September
Sunday 1st October

We will be setting more dates shortly. To book or find out more please contact Helena on or call 01974 831869.