Mad minute

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A British sergeant instructor with the Royal Scots Fusiliers trains a recruit on how to fire the SMLE Mk III Lee–Enfield in prone position, 31 August 1942.
The Lee–Enfield bolt action rifle is known for its smooth operation and often associated with the "mad minute".

The mad minute is best known as a bolt-rifle speed shooting event, stemming from a pre-World War I exercise used by British Army riflemen training at the Hythe School of Musketry, usually using Lee–Enfield or Lee–Metford rifles. Within one minute each rifleman would have to score a minimum of 15 hits on a round 12 or 18 in diameter target[citation needed] at 300 yards (3.8 or 5.7 moa), equivalent to a 30.5 or 46 cm target at 270 meters (1.1 or 1.7 mils).

It was not uncommon during the First and Second World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score, and many of the best riflemen could average 30 plus shots. During the Battle of Mons, there were numerous German accounts of coming up against what they believed was machine gun fire when in fact it was squads of riflemen firing at this rate.[1]

World record[edit]

The first and only confirmed Mad Minute record was set by sergeant major Jesse Wallingford in 1908, setting a record of 36 hits on a 12 in target at 300 yards.[2] Allegedly another world record of 38 hits, also on a 12 in target at 300 yards, is said to have been set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall,[3] but there is little documentation and it is unsure whether it was actually accomplished or British propaganda.

A new world record attempt is planned to be held in Soknedal, Norway, on May 30, 2015, featuring some of the best stang shooters in the country.[4] The competition is called the "Mad Minute Challenge"[1], and will be shot at a round 40 cm in diameter target at 200 meters (6.9 moa / 2 mils), making the target slightly larger than original.

Target sizes[edit]

The tables below are based on the original Mad Minute target sizes (12 or 18 in diameter target at 300 yards), and show the same relative target sizes for different ranges. Keep in mind that wind drift also will become a factor at longer ranges. Genereally wind drift will barely be noticeable at 100 m, while already at 200 m and especially at 300 m the wind will start to become a significant factor, depending amongst other on caliber, wind speed and direction.[citation needed]

Relative size 100 yd (91 m) 200 yd (183 m) 300 yd (270 m)
3.82 MOA (1.11 mil) 4 in (10 cm) 8 in (20.3 cm) 12 in (30.5 cm)
5.73 MOA (1.67 mil) 6 in (15.3 cm) 12 in (30.5 cm) 18 in (45.7 cm)
Relative size 100 m 200 m 300 m
1.11 mil (3.82 MOA) 11.1 cm 22.2 cm 33.3 cm
1.67 mil (5.73 MOA) 16.67 cm 33.34 cm 50 cm

Other uses[edit]

Early use[edit]

Firing line using muskets.

The term was originally used as a description of the time it took to reload a musket during combat in the 18th and 19th century. Enemy formations would be lined up standing shoulder to shoulder, facing each other in ranges from fifty to several hundred meters with relatively inaccurate and slow-loading muskets. After firing a shot each soldier would race to reload his musket as fast as possible, while the enemy was doing the same. Due to the muskets limited accuracy the description was especially relevant at close ranges.

Vietnam War[edit]

In the Vietnam War, the "mad minute" was used to describe a drill involving intense automatic weapons fire, intended to flush out infiltrators or ambushes.[5]

Military use today[edit]

"Mad minute" has remained as an expression in military terminology to describe any short period of intense weapons fire.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Lomas (2012). Mons 1914: The BEF's Tactical Triumph. Osprey Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 1782004440. 
  2. ^ Historical Firearms - The Mad Minute
  3. ^ Ian V. Hogg, The Encyclopedia of Weaponry, Sterling Publishing, New York 2006.
  4. ^ Soknedal Skytterlag - Norgescup stang og felthurtig 2015
  5. ^ V24N3 - Battlefield Innovation
  6. ^

External links[edit]