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The Lee-Enfield "Mad Minute"

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rb67mustang View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rb67mustang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2022 at 7:39am
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

Every now & then the topic of the "real" Mad Minute comes up. There are U-tube videos, countless wittering posts & so on, but the rather sad truth is that most of the information on it is lost, missing or was simply passed down by word of mouth a bit like tribal histories.

FWIW here's everything I've been able to find, dig up or read up on it. Enjoy!

“Mad minute” was a term used by British riflemen during training to describe scoring 15 hits onto a target at 300 yd (274.3 m) within one minute using a bolt-action rifle. It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. Many riflemen could average 30+ shots, while the record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall was 38 hits.

[ Ian V. Hogg, The Encyclopedia of Weaponry, Sterling Publishing, New York 2006.]

 

The magazine and repeating bolt action of the Lee Enfield, adopted at the very dawn of the 20th century, allowed for an unprecedented volume of fire. The fast-operating Lee bolt-action and large magazine capacity enabled a well-trained rifleman to perform the "Mad minute" firing 20 to 30 aimed rounds in 60 seconds, making the Lee-Enfield the fastest military bolt-action rifle of the day. The Lee-Enfield Resource website has a video of 15 rounds in one minute, aimed, but no reference to the methodology & techniques used originally. It was not uncommon during the First World War for British Empire servicemen to beat this record! On average a rifleman could fire twenty-five shots, and some could even make it to forty shots.”

 

Supposedly there is a formal “Mad Minute reenactment” annually in the U.K.

During the 'mad minute' British riflemen were required to hit a target 300 meters away, with at least fifteen rounds fired in sixty seconds; one round every four seconds. A modern-day, semi-trained guerrilla soldier with a semi, or fully automatic assault rifle can easily top that, although not with the same accuracy, but the Lee-Enfield was a bolt action rifle, requiring the soldier to rotate and cycle a bolt with his hand between each shot. The rifle fired the powerful .303 British cartridge, which had a hefty recoil, and the magazine could only hold ten rounds, requiring several reloads during the minute.

Reloading a bolt-action rifle of the time involved sliding bullets from 5-round Chargers (stripper clips) down into the magazine from above. The Lee Enfield required two five-round clips, and debate still rages as to the best method for ensuring high-speed fire; polishing the clip guides, flipping the bolt with the thumb and forefinger of the right hand whilst firing with the middle finger, or even reloading with the Lee-Enfield's detachable magazine (not usually recommended due to manufacturing imperfections which could cause each magazine to be of a slightly different size).

The mad minute turned out to be extremely useful in the early stages of the Great War, when the lightly-armed British Expeditionary Force was on the defensive; the BEF's soldiers could put up a tremendous, murderous volume of fire against advancing close-formation German troops, many of whom reported that they were facing machine-guns. The upper limits of aimed fire in the mad minute were 30-35 rounds per minute, slightly more than one round every two seconds, including the time taken to cycle the bolt and stuff several clips into the rifle.

Here is probably the best-documented methodology available, but most of the documents & records from the period are destroyed so even this is speculative! Remember this was a "set up" World Record attempt, so there was a lot of manipulation & setup involved!

Targets

On military ranges, where most full-bore shoots take place, targets are chosen according to the distance and course of fire. The most commonly used target is known as a Figure 11. This is 44 inches high by 17 inches wide and depicts a charging infantry soldier.

The drill happened during WW1 so we can assume it was done from a trench standing with the rifle supported on a sandbag. A bench & bag is a reasonable substitute if you don't feel like digging a bloody great hole in the range firing line!

Load up at least 8 chargers with 5 rounds each!

The rifle is not slung & (this is vital) the buttstock never leaves the shoulder. Resist the temptation to "look at the bullets going in". Use tension from the left forearm to keep the buttplate in position firmly pressed into the shoulder pocket throughout. Try to keep the muzzle pointed at the bullseye as well, this is why the positioning setup is so important, the rifle should recover from recoil almost naturally if you do it right.

The bolt operation is done by butting the bolt knob in the bent right hand's "trigger finger" & held in place by the right thumb. That finger/thumb never leave the bolt handle, except when grabbing another loaded charger from the right front of the shooter's position. The second finger is used for the trigger operation exclusively. If you get it set up just right (which needs practice) you'll find as the bolt is "whipped sharply" into the closed & locked position the second finger presses the trigger without you doing anything except keeping it rigid. This takes a bit of practice but is almost instinctive when you get it down pat.

 

Now you're set up here's the actual firing drill.

 

Get prone or benched & rested & set up position so you naturally point at the life sized silhouette target at 300yds. (You can use a reduced size one at 100yds if you like.)

LOAD 11 rounds. (2 chargers & one "up the spout").

Fire 6 rounds as quickly as you can re-acquire the target. Time (1 Minute) starts here at the sound of the first shot.

Breathe!

You have fired 6 rounds & have 5 rounds left, DO NOT close the bolt on round #7, just whack in a charger with 5 more rounds & snap the bolt forward to eject the empty clip.

You have 10 rounds loaded.

Fire 6 rounds as quickly as you can re-acquire the target.

Breathe.

Keep repeating the "fire 6, charge 5" until either the minute is up or you run out of bullets after 38 rounds fired! Once you’ve fully emptied the magazine (assuming you’re still going) just dump in 5-round chargers & fire them off to complete the one minute time frame.

If you fire 38 congratulations you beat Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall’s World Record! Most can fire 15~20 aimed shots in a minute with just a day or two's practice, but the world record set in 1914 was 38!

Some rules for the course:

From Small Arms Training Volume No1, pamphlet No1.

No sling is permitted.

Pp28, 27, I

No sighting shots permitted

Pp28, 27, ii

Misfires. If the cap is proven struck round replaced & time to use allowed.

Pp28, 27, iv(a)

Forfeiture of rounds: Failure to fire in time is scored as “miss”

Pp28, 27, v

Firing after time allotted. Highest possible score for round is deducted.

Pp28, 27, vi

 

“Rested” is a sandbag supporting the forearm & wrist, no contact with weapon.

Pp28, 28, (a).

Now I'm not claiming this is the perfect dead nutz on 100% accurate "Manual of Arms" for the Mad Minute, but if anyone wants to try it its a good starting point culled from several sources.

Thanks for sharing this detailed information about the "Mad Minute." When I knew I had found my first Enfield Rifle, even before I paid for it; I watched as many videos with the N05 I found on YouTube. That's when I heard Ian of Forgotten Weapons speak of the "Mad Minute." Sadly, the outdoor 100 yard range I use doesn't allow rapid fire, and the indoor range I use during the winter is only 30 yards in length and they also don't like rapid fire unless they know you well and that you're safe & qualified to do so.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rb67mustang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2022 at 7:53am
Originally posted by Von Gruff Von Gruff wrote:

This is a chap on another forum I visit who has done a video on the mad minute. Rob is a guy who is as authentic in everything he does so I would expect this is very close to the original method.
 
This is his second attempt.
 

Thanks for sharing both of Rob's "Mad Minute" videos. The second video is close to what Shamu shared with us.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rb67mustang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2022 at 10:23am
Originally posted by Pukka Bundook Pukka Bundook wrote:

Very good Shamu,
 
Only one point I want to bring up;
 
In the book, "The Elements of Rifle Shooting" by Major J.A. Barlow, (West Yorkshire Reg't)
 
 
Major Barlow teaches rapid fire  using the normal or index finger to fire the rifle.  He states that 30 to 35 aimed shots can be got off in one minute, in this manner. 
 
I believe that "holding the bolt" is a newer idea, not taught at this time, as it was viewed as most important to renew the vise-like grip with the right hand for accuracy's sake.
Major Barlow insisted  that the thumb must wrap around the grip in the usual manner.
 
So! If we get good at doing it with the "short-cuts", we can then humble ourselves and try it as it was taught by the good Major, between 1932 and 1941.  (These dates are the dates of editions of his book)
 
Major Barlow was no theorist, being winner of the Army Championship, 1930 & 31, The King's Medal, 1930,
Queen Mary's Prize, 1924, King's prize  1934 & '38.
Also a member of the Army Rifle V111, in 1924, 1926, to 1934, 1936 to 1939.
 
Well worth a read, In fact, worth it's weight in gold I would say. Not too hard to find either!
 
Best,
Richard.
 

Thanks for mentioning this book, Richard! I did a quick search and found it on Evil-bay and it was in the US (less S&H), so i sanpped it up!!! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rb67mustang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2022 at 10:27am
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

I'm not sure of the bolt handling as practiced officially. Sometimes "Field Expedient Techniques" are adopted by the squaddies even though it may not be "the way God & The RSM did it, the right way".
I do remember my grandfather (who was an RSM in the 13th Gloucesters), teaching me two things. Firstly you never "palm the bolt" with the Lee Enfield, that's a Mauser/P14 technique that will get the ball of your thumb sliced neatly by the rear sight edge, & secondly to use the middle finger in rapid fire ONLY. You still used the crooked index finger & thumb bolt knob grip, but "unhooked" it to fire in slow & timed fire.
Incidentally we were taught specifically to NOT grip the wrist of the stock at all firmly! We were taught to use the Left hand & arm to grasp the forend & pull it tightly into the shoulder pocket to position & sight. One exercise was to intentionally release the right hand completely (holding it up so the instructor could see it was away from the stock) while checking our Point Of Aim hadn't changed.

 

WOW!!! There's some very Good & Free teaching in this thread. Thanks for sharing your experience, Shamu.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rb67mustang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 14 2022 at 10:33am
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

His name was "Will"!
Confused
"31 rounds,
rapid fire,
in your own time,
FIRE AT WILL"
Censored
(Actually I have no idea, sorry)

OMG!!!LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here lies, William, shot 31 times in 1 minute, May he RIP.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Strangely Brown Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 22 2022 at 2:02pm


Apologies I thought this was a new post about the mad minute to which I've already posted earlier. 




Mick
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote britrifles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 22 2022 at 5:00pm
Yes, an old thread, but an interesting topic.  The LE is without question the fasted bolt rifle of it’s time, maybe still the fastest bolt action service rifle of all time. 

We should keep in mind though that these achievements by pre WWI instructors are not at all typical of the skills of the soldiers sent into battle, particularly as the war progressed and new recruits were pressed into service as replacements.   This is where the US had an advantage with the M1, a recruit becomes proficient with well aimed rapid fire with an auto loading rifle much faster than with a bolt rifle.  There is a reason that present day infantry don’t carry a bolt action service rifle. 

I’ve done a lot of shooting with both the M1 and No. 4 and I can’t achieve the same rate of well aimed fire (under 4 MOA) with these two rifles.  I could shoot the 15 shots in 60 seconds with my No. 4, but probably would not hold 4 MOA with it.  Pretty easy to shoot three 8 round clips with the M1 in 60 seconds. 

By the way, I would want to practice this “Mad Minute” exercise much, it’s a definite barrel burner.  

I suppose guys like Snoxall might find the M1 gas system too slow to operate and would prefer a bolt action rifle …Pinch
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 22 2022 at 5:06pm
There's a "Zombie Shoot Mad Minute Video" out there.
Is shot standing, unsupported & at about 35 Yds.
You have to stoop to the dirt to pick up a charger & of course dismount to do it.
Now I get its a fun shoot, rather than a Historical re-enactment, but the loading, gun-handling in general & short stroking because of rim jams is horrible.
If you're gong to do a "Mad Minute Drill"
I'd hope for much better!
Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)
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