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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
When I hear about folks trying to put together a modest collection of Enfield rifles and what they have to go through to find even well used examples at not all that low prices, it is kind of sad. 20~25 years ago Enfield collecting was in its salad days, with all of the released war reserve rifles (and parts) and the opening of information provided by the Internet. But not only military rifles, it was a golden age for collecting target regulated versions.

After attending the 1997 and 1998 Full-bore matches at Connaught, I got kind of interested in the 303 Enfield target rifles, as even in 1998 a few of the 308 conversions were still on the long line and in the commercial area used ones were darned cheap. In the next few years work took me to the UK (1999), Australia (2002) and New Zealand (2000), and visiting both ranges and gun shops opened up an entire range of possibilities. Worn .303 target rifles were pretty cheap in that era, as were the target sights. Every trip back to the US saw my baggage loaded with target sights and bits that were not regulated. After visiting and making contacts with the Collin's brother from the north island, Robbie Tiffin of the south Island, Laurence ordnance of NSW, and a few other smiths I cannot now recall, I found I could import retired target rifles sets/parts/bits that were at the time not really wanted or valued, folks there were restoring such rifles to military format. Combined with the information from the internet and books purchased such as Sweets, Fulton's target rifle books and various armorer rebuild procedures, it meant I could put together some really nice examples, such as 1938 regulated 1916 BSA MKIII H barrel with Mues sight, 1960 H rebuild, almost new, with Central sight and several range rifles all with H barrels. Heck new replacement H barrels could be had from Laurence ordnance and got a few in that manner.

Range rifles on antique pre 1899 actions were shipped to my door. Managed to get TZ,, TZ plus, PH 5, 5A, 5B, 5C, 5E, TZ 3/49, 4/47, 4/68, several No 9 sights (B, C, F, G) all that way. Cost definitely went up approaching 2005 and sometime around 2005 (maybe as late as 2007?) the door snapped shut when unregulated parts imports (think barrels) ended.

The supply of cheap sporters in the US meant the parts sets could be assembled and where bits were missing the parts needed were cheap and readily available. Forends were 35 to 45 dollars from Springfield Sporters, bolt bodies 10 dollars, new old stock, so one could assemble a correct regulated pattern target rifle without molesting a military rifle. It also meant I was able to spend a decade learning all of the technics or regulating the SMLE, long lee range rifles (band packing) and a No 4 target variations (mostly center bedded but not every target rifle).

Of course the end of the era came with the gradual rise in sight prices, parts disappearing (especially forends) and most importantly the ignition difficulties of the old MK VII ball ammo all these rifles were regulated to shoot. Some of these rifles really only shoot well with cordite these days. Then graduated tot eh 7.62 variations, as they were cheap for a time, only to have those get too pricy as well.

Went through the remaining stock, still have three No 4 stock sets , 2 MK III H barrels new in wrap, one heavy barrel 7.62 ( external military profiled) from Canada and one stainless 27.6 inch H barrel 7.62. Along with nearly compete set of parts for a Parker Hale 86 Target rifle, complete set of parts to finish off a No 5 action. Also vials of graphite, asbestos replacement pads, engine cork gasket bits (several types), old petroleum jelly vials, waxed paper, medal draw inserts, all of the material one needs.

All sitting waiting for my son to show some interest, should he ever. Which I doubt, as he so far has not gotten the bug at least yet.
 

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Take him to some high power matches and have him shoot a few. He'll get the bug fast enough.
 
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Take him to some high power matches and have him shoot a few. He'll get the bug fast enough.
hopefully,

tho I know a few shooters who's kids could care less, and have shot a few matches, (and were coached correctly,)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
He is a bit young yet, but I am afraid that things are different now

When I finally got to go to full bore matches (my father was not into shooting, though he had arms and was an ex-serviceman), it was the closest thing one could find to military shooting, a more precise version of KD training , which was how all the pre -1957 service men qualified. Service rifle shooting, especially at the club level was a bit rough and tumble as were the guys who ran the clubs, mostly vets of WWII and Korea, even in the 1980s.

Now it is a precise event, a variant of ISU shooting. Very equipment centric and frankly it has nothing at all to do with service rifle shooting. Nada. The rifle is not a service rifle, doesn't look like one, only the grip is military pattern (literally). The M1907 sling has not been issue for 65 years. A black sling configured as I have seen it is some line units...is not legal. Kneeling and snap stages do not exist. Sitting which is a major part of the NMC is not taught anymore in ARM or BRM. The standing stage is now the difference between wining and page 2 scores, which means standing is over 80% of your practice......for a stage that is completely not practical, no hasty sling, heavy coat, sweatshirts in summer, etc.

None of this takes away from the skill of the shooters, they are more skilled than the pre 2015 shooters no doubt, the match scopes have made shooter skills much better, scores reflect that. Scopes let shooters remain into their 70s, when early 60's were the cut off before. But it is not service rifle and as a result the only folks shooting it are old guys who buy points with all of the artificial supports. None of the young guys that shoot in club matches bother with it, they will show up for vintage events, but CNP/NRA service rifle...even though they all own AR15 rifles....is dead to them.

Which is sad as it was an integral part of my competitive life. But the endless seeking of points at the expense of practical events has killed the popularity of the sport, once the old guys who came in decades ago quit, it will be like long range black powder.
 

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very astute , and honestly depressing to me ( I shot for 12 yrs or so, stopped due to the job,) observations,
 

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My son is 38 or so and although he likes guns, he didn't get the bug - although to be honest, I didn't get into actual collecting until I left the army in 2000 (I was almost 40) and then was introduced to a couple guys who got me interested.
I do think we've had several golden ages - for me, I wished it was today when all those lugers came in and the P38's. A couple friends i knew bought a lot of variations that were very hard to get.
 

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There is still hope. Plenty of younger guys out there and children being introduced to shooting sports. But I will agree its not how it used to be. So many people view guns as bad and "dangerous" things now and there is a large societal mindset against guns and shooting that its the hardest now than ever to introduce anyone into guns. I know guys in their early 20s who are really into shooting, and show interest and appreciation in older firearms. Also I know guys my age 30s-40s who's kids have been shown shooting but couldn't really care less don't want anything to do with it. Would rather play with computers and shooting military video games. But when you show them an M1 in real life surprisingly they shrug and say No thanks. I have a Newphew I can only hope will want to inherit the many family heirlooms of Great Grand Dad's and Grand pa's from both sides of the families firearms. If not, when I die one day they will get sold off and sadly have to find a new family to take care of them.
My personal collection I don't expect anyone but myself to have any real sentimental connection with. I will sell them off when it comes time, as I've gotten my enjoyment out of them. But the family guns that have been passed on since 1890s, would be a real shame. This is world now, and we can only hope to try our best to fight the stigma against firearms and recreational shooting sports and hunting.
 
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@Edward Tinker I visited Simpson Ltd. in Galesburg, IL over the weekend and they had an amazing collection of Lugers. I am not familiar with the nuances of Lugers, but just in case you are not aware, may be worth checking them out as apparaently they are the biggest collector of Lugers in the USA. It was a fascinating place. The company founder and namesake discovered President George Washington's pistols in France many years ago and bought them back to the USA where they are now in a museum. As I said, a lot of stories.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I think the collecting bug such as it is, has a lot to do with an individuals appreciation of history and a sense of connection with it.

Edward T, I think you and I are within a few years of each other and I would bet your fathers generation was of the WWII/Korean war era, and your Grandfathers of the WWI era, great Grandfathers in the 1989 to 1902 conflicts (Spanish American war, Boer war, Philippine insurrection, Omdurman expedition, Boxer rebellion). History was all around us in our relatives and many popular movies were seen on Saturday night in the "million dollar movie slot", such as Zulu, 55 days at Peking, Gordon of Khartoum, The longest day, Bridge at Remagen, etc. Add the BBC "World at War" which an entire generation of boys saw in the mid 1970s and, well cartoonish heroes such as dominate kids culture today held no sway as we were surrounded by the real thing. The tools of their service were very interesting and bolt action rifles did not seem that outmoded.

That is a big difference, one I see in my kids generation. Most of the parent peers come from the post Vietnam generation and well, they do not want young boys exposed to war films.
 

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I have never made it to Galesburg, but Brad Simpson published 3 of my books, so I know them well, but never been there!
My parents had me young, he was just a bit too old for Vietnam, and my grandfather served in WW2 - but I agree with what you said :)

Ed
 
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I'm not sure how well this is "going to sit", but whatever.
Back In The Day
You showed up with whatever you had.
You threw down a groundsheet (because of sheep poop)
& You shot. You shot the absolute best you could shoot. (it was, in reality you trying to meet or beat your best) then you'd go have a few drinks & eat with the other competitors & go to "The Wailing Wall" to see how you'd been scored.
After lunch you'd swap ends. The Trench Monkeys & The Shooters swapped ends.
Then you'd accuse the judges of (whatever) & argue it out with those caliber-specific pointy things with a magnifying glass on them.
We went, we laid in the dirt ,& we tried to out-shoot each other.
It was fun, although quite serious.
At the end of the day you all met in the bar, drank beer (sparingly) there was a match tomorrow after all. & parted with mutual respect. Now its equipment & "The aggregate of three point moving averages after factoring in last year's rankings".
The thrill is gone, baby.
I've shot against some serious shooters.
When my rifle was "taken in for Ballistics comparisons" & then "lost" One of my more serious rivals lent me a rifle so I could continue to compete. (against him).
Those days seem to be gone for ever.
 
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I'm not sure how well this is "going to sit", but whatever.
Back In The Day
You showed up with whatever you had.
You threw down a groundsheet (because of sheep poop)
& You shot. You shot the absolute best you could shoot. (it was, in reality you trying to meet or beat your best) then you'd go have a few drinks & eat with the other competitors & go to "The Wailing Wall" to see how you'd been scored.
After lunch you'd swap ends. The Trench Monkeys & The Shooters swapped ends.
Then you'd accuse the judges of (whatever) & argue it out with those caliber-specific pointy things with a magnifying glass on them.
We went, we laid in the dirt ,& we tried to out-shoot each other.
It was fun, although quite serious.
At the end of the day you all met in the bar, drank beer (sparingly) there was a match tomorrow after all. & parted with mutual respect. Now its equipment & "The aggregate of three point moving averages after factoring in last year's rankings".
The thrill is gone, baby.
I've shot against some serious shooters.
When my rifle was "taken in for Ballistics comparisons" & then "lost" One of my more serious rivals lent me a rifle so I could continue to compete. (against him).
Those days seem to be gone for ever.

the local club I still belong to,

relaxed NRA\CMP rules,
shoot what you bring

if you do well, you may get an invite to use a loaner next time you show up if you don't have a 'Proper Rifle'

do good, and after that you may get an invite to shoot with the State Team

don't do good, you get a pat on the back and an invite to the next match, and possibly some coaching

need something? usually someone will have a spare,

we (rrpc.org) are very accommodating to new shooters,

some of the hardcore hard holders can be a bit stuck up , but the rest will bend over backwards to get new blood interested in the sport, (and the State Team uses the range and matches for practice)
 

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Here in Oz we no longer have access to military semi-automatics, so all service rifle matches are with pre-Vietnam bolt action rifles which is a great leveller. Most of the Club rules specifically prohibit modified rifles - they have to be substantially "as issued". And yes, they are generally shot from a mound covered in sheep / cow / kangaroo poo in all weathers, and followed by a few beers.
 

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"Those were the days my friend" (1968)

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way


 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Mary Hopkins,

Recall hearing that song on the radio as a kid. The big question: Did she understand indoor plumbing? My wife always wanted to know.
 

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Here in Oz we no longer have access to military semi-automatics, so all service rifle matches are with pre-Vietnam bolt action rifles which is a great leveller. Most of the Club rules specifically prohibit modified rifles - they have to be substantially "as issued". And yes, they are generally shot from a mound covered in sheep / cow / kangaroo poo in all weathers, and followed by a few beers.
The day’s of the late 50’s-60’s for us younger snotty nose kids watching (learning & using) the No1 Mklll’s (22’s thru HB’s) Cobar,Nymagee & the Gong harbor rock sea wall range OZ where interesting day’s gone by time’s. 🤢👍
 

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Well the move has to take priority right now & it looks like I'll be moving another 2 1/2~3 Hours away from Virginia.
* sigh* we'll see.
 
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I remember selling any kind of 303 military rifle that did not have a reciever bridge (scope mount) for $2 over the counter at Baumanns......I wasnt interested ,and spent my first weeks pay on an Eddystone in grease....lots of grease...$12.
 
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