The Mad Minute Challenge: A TFB Contest

To fully immerse yourself in history, sometimes you have to go out and make some yourself. With this in mind, we at TFB are announcing our Mad Minute Contest. Rules will for the contest will be laid out below, but first what is a Mad Minute? For that, we turn to Matt of Historical Firearms:

The Mad Minute

Marksmanship training in the British Army involved an exercise known as the ‘Mad Minute’ in which a soldier was expected to fire at, and hit, a 12″ target 300 yards out at least 15 times.   A trained rifleman could hit the target 30+ times with his Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle.   At the turn of the century the British Army was the most professional in the world with each soldier trained to be an expert marksman.  During the musketry classifications shoots of recruits there were three stages, one being the Mad Minute, shot at various ranges if this was completed with a high enough score the soldier would be classified a Marksman and given a crossed rifles badge and a 6 pence a day increase in pay – so it paid to be a good shot.

As such when the First World War began the average British rifleman could out shoot his German and French counterparts.  At the Battle of Mons it was well documented that German infantry believed they were facing British battalions heavily equipped with machine guns rather than riflemen.

The first and confirmed record for the most hits on target during a ’Mad Minute’  was set by Sgt-Major Jesse Wallingford – 36 hits at 300 yards in 1 minute in 1908.  However, this was allegedly bettered in 1914, by Sergeant-Instructor Alfred Snoxall with 38 hits in 60 seconds.  It has not been beaten since although there is little documentary evidence of the feat readily available. Hitting the target 38 times would require him to fire the 10 rounds pre-loaded in the SMLE’s magazine and then reload 6 times with 5 round stripper clips.   Add onto this that the rifle was a single shot, bolt action rifle which required the user to push up and retract the bolt and then return it forward pushing a new round into the chamber, then aiming and fire.  All while maintaining his cheek weld and line of sight.  This means Snoxall must have averaged around 1.5 seconds per shot to hit the target 38 times in a minute. Quite a feat.

Watch the above video if you have not already.

The competition rules ….

  1. You must use a bolt-action Enfield rifle (any variant listed on this Wikipedia article is allowed).
  2. The rifle must have a fixed 10 round (or lower capacity) magazine. The magazine cannot be removed during the course of fire.
  3. You must use a 12″ target.
  4. You must be no closer than 100 yards from the target.
  5. Any shooting position is allowed, but rifle cannot be supported. The use of a bench is not allowed. A sling is allowed to be used.
  6. You must use iron sights.
  7. The winner is the shooter with the most rounds on target during a 60 second interval.
  8. If there is a tie, the shooter with the least misses will win, and if there is still a tie, the shooter with the most accurate shots will win.
  9. You must submit a video showing you attempting the challenge, a separate photo of the target and a separate photo of the rifle used.
  10. We will make a compilation videos showing contestants attempting the challenge. The video and photos you submit may be used in this video or on TFB.
  11. The competition is open to readers worldwide.
  12. Your entry must be submitted before 15 June 2015.
  13. The winner will receive an original copy of the Musketry Regulations (Steve found it at a bookstore in the UK).
  14. To enter the competition fill out the form below. We will email all contestants in June explaining how to submit your video and photos.


Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Cal S.

    Where’s Jerry Miculek when you need him?

    • There are legends of many men firing SMLEs fast enough that it fooled opposing forces into believing more machine guns were present than there actually were: Jerry can accomplish this alone.

    • Zebra Dun

      On the range, having a good day.

  • Budogunner

    Matt of Historical Firearms needs to look up what “single shot” means.

    • Pedantry.

      • Budogunner

        Wrong is wrong. We get plenty of trouble because the media confuses semi- and full-auto. We don’t need a media scare about “single shot” rifles that can put 36 rounds in 12 inches at 300 yards in 60 seconds.

        Besides, ultimately this is what editors are for. It isn’t too much to ask for accuracy and professionalism from the pro-gun media. We have too much stacked against us by mainstream media as it is.

        • “Single shot” colloquially can mean “manually operated”. Technically speaking Matt is wrong in calling the Lee-Enfield a single shot, but meaning is still properly conveyed through the colloquial definition which may not distinguish between single-shot weapons and magazine-fed repeaters.

  • anon

    can i use a nugget?

    • Patrick R.

      Enfield rifles only for the competition, but if you would like to try with a Nagant I sure would like to see how you fair.

      • marathag

        I’d like to see some guys with straight pull rifles accept the challenge. They are also supposed to be fast, like the 1895 Mannlicher or a Ross

        • Marlon

          They’re not fast from the prone position at all – you have to shift your body and break your natural point of aim every time you work the bolt.

  • Riot

    Glorious!! I say it will be marvelous to sit back and watch all these chaps give it what for!
    It’s grand to see traditions kept up somewhat – shame those of us on dear old Albion can’t take part!

    • I chuckled, but you do know that one can legally obtain a proper rifle for this contest in the UK right?

      • Riot

        Not really and it is getting harder and harder.
        Like the reason to own one – well normally that means being part of a gun club and they don’t exist in a lot of areas because there are not enough people.
        So it is more people in certain bits of the UK, also in plenty of areas the police chiefs just flat out refuse.

        • I have quite a few friends in the UK with firearm certificates that are avid sportsmen and competitive shooters. They will admit that it is a pain, but not impossible.

          • Tom – UK

            Limited to certain areas? Within reasonable driving distances perhaps but if you can’t get range permission you get permission over ground.

          • Riot

            I know a few guys with them. (though they are hundreds of miles away.)
            It is basically up to your “local” police chief.

          • Graham2

            You’re talking utter rubbish and simply don’t know what you’re talking about! There are rifle clubs in every part of the UK and many people shot just a few miles from home. Others travel far and wide to shoot the centre fire rifles they own, it’s not hard at all.

            Shooting is doing very well in the UK and getting an FAC is easier than you think. Being a member of a club is obviously going to help in getting a licence, as it shows you’re actually going to be using a rifle for target shooting on a range. The other route is to have permission to shoot vermin, deer etc.

          • Riot

            It’s not utter rubbish.
            I know people from all over the UK, from london to aberdeen. Out of them the ones with licenses ARE hundreds of miles away from me.

          • Graham2

            I was replying to your general tone, that it is-
            A. It is not possible for people in the UK to take part in this competition- utter rubbish, of course people can take part in this competition if they wish.
            B. It is getting harder and harder to shoot- utter rubbish, shooting is very easy to get into in the UK, there are clubs and ranges all over the country and new members are always welcome.

            C. Police chiefs flat out refuse- utter rubbish. If you are refused an FAC, the police have to have a reason and if you are a member of a Home Office approved club, you have a very good reason to be granted an FAC. If you were refused an FAC, one of the UK shooting associations would probably take up the case if the police had been unreasonable.

            I’ve been shooting for over 40 years, starting out with airguns and now regularly shoot, shotguns, rimfire and centre fire rifles on farms and rifle ranges. You are obviously not a shooter, know nothing about shooting in the UK and appear to be a troll.

  • iksnilol

    Would have tried this if I had a SMLE.

    • Patrick R.

      Try it anyhow! Just a grab a mil surp bolt action and film it, we would love to see how you do.

      • GearHeadTony

        ???? *the sound of me and my Swiss K31 bolting out the door*.

        • MichaelZWilliamson

          “Except for anything Swiss.” 😉

      • iksnilol

        Will check out if I can do that during the summer. 100 meters, .22 LR (because shooting 30-06 as fast as you can is bad for your wallet), Sauer STR 200 (because all the milsurps I have access to have been converted to single shot training rifles).

        I know, maybe not in the spirit of the thing but that’s the best I can do.

    • Tassiebush

      Me too

  • glutius maximus

    I have a lovely No 1 Mark III made by Enfield in 1918. Great bore and very little wear.
    I would not however, subject the old girl to a “mad minute” unless the Boche were
    in my perimeter.
    The SMLE had the smoothest operating bolt of any military rifle and it was the first rifle I ever shot as a wee cadet in The Rocky Mountain Rangers.
    I weighed about 120 lbs and in the prone position, the recoil was…exiting.

    • iksnilol

      Smoothest bolt?

      *cough* Krag Jørgensen *cough*

      Have to defend the Norwegians a bit.

      • I would have to agree and say that the Krag is the smoothest I have felt (well, out of military rifles).

      • glutius maximus

        I’ve handled both, it’s a matter of perception.

        • iksnilol

          BECAUSE THE AMERICANS F***** UP THE KRAG! Chambered it for an inferior cartridge and removed a locking lug.

          Though Krags have a small issue with rain (it changes POI a bit, though it is a consistent shift so it is all about learning to compensate for it by adjusting the sights).

          • marathag

            .30-40 is not all that different from 7.62 Nato……

          • iksnilol

            6.5×55>7.62Nato>.30-40

            .30-40 has usually much worse trajectory due to most bullets being loaded with round nose bullets.

          • marathag

            Buy something in 30-40 Krag.

            Load some 180 gr. Spitzers with 44gr of ‘modern’ 1950s era powder like 4350, rather than 32 gr. of DuPont #1 and a 220 gr RN

            Now how is that round so bad again?

            You put a 220gr in the Nato and you wouldn’t be happy with that either

          • iksnilol

            You can make anything amazing by making a good handload,

            Still, 6.5×55 is way better than 7.62 Nato.

          • glutius maximus

            6.5 Swede is a great cartridge but, it is limited by bullet weight.
            I will agree though, that many an African Elephant was taken by Karamojo Bell with a 6.5 Mannlicher.

          • iksnilol

            “Where we are going, we don’t need bullet weight.”

            -inventor of 6.5×55, probably

            There are some heavy 6.5 bullets (10 grams) but they aren’t as heavy as other bullets (308 has heavier bullets, then again it is less efficently shaped). Then again they get better penetration with less weight than other cartridges due to the sectional density and all.

          • marathag

            wasn’t talking about that cartridge, though.

            Just tired of people thinking that the 30-40 is pathetic or something.

            It’s a powerful round, close to 7.62 Nato or 303 Brit, that you don’t get tags like ‘ineffective’ on it. It’s still more than what’s needed for an infantryman.

          • iksnilol

            Not saying it isn’t powerfull, it just lacks range. Though that can easily be solved (somewhat) by loading with spitzer bullets.

            Never said it was ineffective, just vastly inferior to 6.5×55.

          • glutius maximus

            Are you kidding !
            7.62 nato loaded with a 150 grain bullet at 2900 fps has a 500 fps advantage over the .30/40 round.

          • marathag

            most 150 gr loads in the 308 are below that, though: around 2750 is more common

            Yeah, the 30-40 does have a bit less powder capacity, but ‘close enough’

            It’s not a 30-30.

          • glutius maximus

            I have to admit, I love the “lunchbox” magazine of the Krag.

          • iksnilol

            I like it too, it just annoys me how people who never use one says that it is bad because you have to load one round at a time. Mainly because the magazine is designed to automatically align the rounds correctly as long as they are pointed the right way (AKA, just dump 5 rounds in pointed the right way and shut the magazine door thingy)

          • glutius maximus

            I worked in a gunshop in Vancouver back in the early ’90s and we got a couple of crates of Krags in from some place.
            Still kicking myself for not picking up a couple. I think they were $100 or so.You don’t see workmanship like that
            anymore.

          • iksnilol

            I have always wanted to work in a gunshop. It sounds like fun but it also sounds boring because of all the fudds (in Norway 80% of guns are either bolt actions or shotguns).

          • glutius maximus

            We had some pretty interesting guns come through the door.
            I now have a small shop in my home where I can merrily tinker away.

          • iksnilol

            Sounds very interesting. What was the weirdest/coolest guns you had through the door?

          • glutius maximus

            Once, we had a few crates of Mausers come in from an unidentified, South American country.
            The rifles were clearly, battlefield pick-ups.
            A lot of them showed signs of some heavy fighting, including bullet damage and rather gory evidence of some close quarters combat.
            We pulled the barrels,bolts, sights and anything else that was salvageable.
            I was told to destroy all the receivers with a hammer.
            If only those old rifles could talk.

          • 2hotel9

            I bought my Enfield around that time, for $94, and it was covered in cosmoline. Cleaned it up and it was an absolutely perfect rifle, only one mark from another rifle’s safety lever in the wood. Were Krags available at same time for same price, I just always liked .303Brit cartridge.

          • glutius maximus

            Yes, there’s just something about the Lee. Every time I take my No 1 Mk 3 out to the range, I have to remind myself that I’m shooting a 93 year old veteran. She never disappoints.

          • 2hotel9

            I love taking mine to a group shoot, always makes me money off the over optimistic optics crowd who can’t conceive of iron sights being accurate beyond 25 feet. And people love to check it out, so many have no knowledge of older weapons that it is a great educational opportunity. I have made a few converts over the years. Once you shoot one nothing else will really do. 😉

          • glutius maximus

            I get a kick out of the “operator” types with $600 AR clones that have $2000 worth of “tactical” gear stuck on a rifle that was meant to be light and quick handling.
            Stoner would have a good laugh.

        • iksnilol

          I am familiar with that technique. I just can’t see whether he is using middle or ring finger to operate the trigger.

          The name of that guy is Finn Amundsen, he became “shooter king” (the title given to the winner of the landsskyterstevnet). He is probably one of the best guys with a rifle in Norway. He won the stangmedaljen 9 times.

          • You can see some vintage and modern footage of his technique in this video. He is using his middle finger.

            https://youtu.be/4cnAwRJc7Sw?t=11m16s

          • iksnilol

            I just couldn’t see it clearly. I do use the middle finger technique when I want to fire quickly. It is a good technique when you are “entrenched”.

  • KestrelBike

    Ohhhh this is so awesome haha. Ugh, need to find a decent range in NOVA that wouldn’t have people wringing their hands as they called the police because of such rapid, 1shot-2second strings. (Oh, and I don’t have any bolt actions with me nor their requisite ammo, let alone an SMLE)

  • UCSPanther

    The Lee Enfield is not as strong as the mauser, but their bolts are very well suited for swift cycling and the old .303 British hits like a ton of bricks.

  • Tassiebush

    Great idea Firearm Blog!

  • Shawn Thompson

    may try this. May I also suggest a future contest, the 20/20/20 1K. ? I been getting closer to acheieving this ever year. 20 rounds, in 20 seconds on a 20 inch target at 1000 yards

    • phil

      I can’t even see that far! How about 15 rounds in 15 minutes at 15 feet? For us old guys with developing cataracts, y’know. ????

    • CZFan

      id love to see a video of that!

  • The_Champ

    Search YouTube for ‘Mad Minute Myth’. There is an excellent video that pretty much convinced me that these “records” are a myth, or at least very exaggerated.

    • iksnilol

      http://onetapheating.blogspot.no/2015/03/the-mad-minute-myth.html

      Here’s a counterargument to that video. The guy in the video got some things wrong (“småen” means “small one”, and it isn’t 30 inches by 20 inches for obvious reasons).

    • Tassiebush

      I’ve seen a few videos on that theme (discrediting it) or JFK theories but they tend to be folks who aren’t very proficient with working bolt actions.

  • CZFan

    I have a different understanding of the “Mad Minute” a colloquial term for the ” 300yd rapid application of the classification practice (table B part 3 of the 1914 regs) Shot with 5 rds loaded one in the chamber (for a total of 15) with 2 loadings with “charger clips”

    The target was not 12″ it was a “Second class target with a No. 5 figure (man behind cover, which was an odd shaped hourglass looking figure ) ” so 48″x48″ with a 24″ inner ring and a 36″ outer ring . Any hits on the target counted.

    the 12 inch target first gets a mention in the Ian Hogg book. There is nothing to back it up as the truth.

    Not to mention that modern rapid fire bolt gun competitions use beyond match grade service rifles with buttery smooth actions or new manufacture guns specifically designed for the sport, and modern peep sights on all the rifles, the target they use at 150m is 12″x20″ and the best those guys do is roughly 15 shots in 25 seconds lets double the time and assume those guys could get 30-35 hits with those guns at that range . They are still using far better rifles, sights, and ammo and they are doing it at half the distance with a larger target than the “record” and with an 80% or so hit rate.

    I have no problem believing someone could get very very good with the enfield and shoot 38 rounds in 1 minute thats 1 round roughly every 1.5 seconds and wen you add reloads its even faster.
    When you add the true target size on top of it (meaning a 4ft by 4 ft square it becomes more plausible but still an amazing display of marksmanship and weapon handling.

    But lets get past the internet rumors and innuendo and stop spreading information that isnt true.

    I cant remember when, or what magazine but a long time ago (late 90’s?) a magazine studied the “mad minute” and the supposed record of 38 hits in one minute on a 12″ target at 300 yards and debunked that myth

    As with anything unless it is documented at the time finding the “truth” from witnesses is pretty unreliable, especially when the account is written about long after the event.

    Its pretty easy to go from “man dave shot his enfield 38 times in one minute!”
    To “Man dave shot his enfield 38 times in one minute and at 100yds hit the qualification target target every time!”

    To ” MAN! Dave shot his Enfield 38 times in one minute and at 300 yds he scored all Bullseyes!”

    Long story short I call BS on the 38 hits 300 yds 12″ target record, and so do other people who have looked at the subject at all past what you hear in a gun store.

    • Budogunner

      This man speaks truth. Google Historical Firearms (dot) info for an article with correct target sizes that also includes links to sources.

      Perhaps the article and contest rules should be amended with notation of errata. Being wrong is only a problem when you don’t own it.

      • CZFan

        I would love to see the article and the contest amended, either do it with a 12″ ring on a 24×48″ target at 100yds or a 36″ outer ring on a 48″x48″ target at 300yds.

        Think about it 48″x48″ isnt that large of an area, someone crouched in front of a 4 foot by 4 foot target would take up quite a bit of that space, so if you can fire 15-30 rds per minute from a bolt gun and land them all within that area that is absolutely effective fire, at the very least its accurate suppressive fire.. Add two or three other guys shooting at the same thing and you have multiple rounds landing per second. That certainly could be mistaken for machine gun fire as the accounts from the First World War state.

        the whole point of the “mad minute” drill was to train soldiers for combat effective rapid fire with bolt guns, A kneeling man isnt that much smaller than 24″x48″ add the 10rd Magazine capacity,something that is standard for military bolt guns to this day, the proximity of the bolt to the trigger allowing you to keep your hand on the bolt and use your middle or ring finger to fire , and the Enfield certainly is a formidable bolt gun we dont need to embellish its history to appreciate it. It can stand on its own merit without the fairy tales.

  • TGM

    Can you start with a round chambered?

    • Good question, I would say yes, but the challenge is Alex’s baby, so I’ll let him have the final word.

    • Sure can.

  • Just Sayin’

    Great idea TFB! I hope you folks with Enfields have fun trying. If you’ve ever shot in a CMP Garand Match with a bolt action then you already know how difficult this is. There, you get 80 seconds to get 10 rounds off (prone from standing, bolt open over a full mag). Usually I can barely get all 10 off and get them within the 8 ring with my M39 Finn, including a reload with a stripper clip. I do a little better with my K31 Swiss with an actual mag change. Over 30 rounds in a minute is unimaginable to me.

  • Just Sayin’

    Can’t help but wonder about the economic implications of this challenge. Come Monday will all the usual on-line ammo vendors be sold out of surplus .303? Will all Enfields on Gunbroker be bid up over $700?
    (Hint for the savvy buyer: The Indian-made Ishapores shoot 7.62 NATO)

    • Riot

      That’s only conversions (like all rifles) and 2A1 s
      Plenty of Ishapore rifles are .303 – so you can’t just see Ishapore and think 7.62 nato.

  • Tenacious221

    Awwwww. Wish it was open to any period bolt gun. I don’t have an enfield, but i do have a mosin.

  • Y-man

    I just registered! Does shooting a $3,000 equiv Mossberg 500A with home made slugs and home-fabricated sights at 35 yards count?

    Oh s**t! I just read the rest of the rules!

    Oh well, a man can dream, can’t he?

  • 2hotel9

    “Mad minute”? Last one I participated in was immediately followed by the firing of 9 claymores and 6 minutes of 4duece mortar fire, whilst we un-a$$ed the position.

    Think I will get in on this one! My smelly and me loves to burn ammo.

  • Will

    Here’s my entry:
    Remington Rand, 1903A3, 30 rounds fired( okay, 10) prone position, 100 yards, 12″ target. Hit it three times in one minute.
    No video or photos. You just have to take my word.
    I also caught a twenty pound rainbow trout.
    ????????????????????
    My grand daughter made me put those things in.

  • glutius maximus

    Thank you for the history lesson. It was darned interesting.

  • petru sova

    If you read McBride’s book “A Rifleman Went to War” he speaks of how inaccurate the WWI British Enfield was and that the average gun was not capable of being used as a precision long range sniper rifle. The British Military agreed and issued a variety of substitute rifles as snipers during the WWI. These problems were largely corrected in WWII although the guns continued to be made with a very heavy 7 1/2 lb trigger pull which few men could master even though the guns were indeed extremely accurate because of a partially floated barrel and a barrel that was deliberately made heavier than the WWI weapons.