Service Rifle – SR (a)
This is in essence a rifle in ‘as issued’ state, i.e. as it would be expected to be after leaving an ordnance factory. In competition, the general course of fire for these rifles closely follows the military discipline of the day i.e. relevant to when they were issued to British and Commonwealth armies. As well as using current military courses of fire altered to suit bolt action rifles, we have adopted modified timings to accommodate the fitness of those of us entrusted to shoot them today!
This section covers the range of Lee Enfield training rifles, many of them having started out as service rifles but being converted at a later date by sleeving the barrel to take the ˑ22 long rifle cartridge. Within the Lee Enfield family there are also purpose made trainers which, to the collector as well as the shooter, provide many happy hours of research and economic shooting.
Target Rifle - SR(b) and Transitional Target Rifle
Military target rifle shooting has been with us since the volunteer movement had their first meeting in 1860 on Wimbledon Common. In truth, target shooting competitions have been going in military establishments since the days of the matchlock rifle.
Even before the Great War the Bisley Bible of 1913 mentions service rifle as a ‘target rifle’ but also refers to ‘Sights as issued’ competitions, which today we would call SR(a).
In the years after the Great War, service rifles with purpose made target sights were referred to as Service Rifle ‘b’ – SR(b), the idea being that a SR(b) rifle could have the target sights easily removed ready for it to be used in the SR(a) form if the owner was called upon for military service or by possible government requisition.
SR(b) was dealt a blow in 1968 when the NRA announced that from that year all target rifle shooting would take place using the relatively new 7.62mm NATO round. (It is worth noting that the match rifle fraternity had switched to 7.62mm in 1963!) At this time the British Isles, and indeed the Commonwealth, shooting communities were awash with .303 rifles and many of them were subsequently converted to the new NATO calibre. The Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock produced their own target rifle, the Envoy, in this calibre for commercial sales. They also produced the L39A1 for tri service competition and a kit for the Enfield No.4 rifle so it could be converted by civilian gunsmiths. The No.4 rifles converted to 7ˑ62mm are known as ‘Transitional Target Rifles’ and have their own unique class in competition shooting and in shooting history.
In truth, the Lee Enfield design of 1888 has now been far outclassed by modern target rifles with forward locking designs, but to the casual observer of rifle shooting, for a design that goes back 130 years it hasn’t done too badly!
And then there is the collecting and research of the Lee Speed and Parker-Hale game rifles…!
Competitions for the whole range of Lee Enfield rifles are arranged by the Shooting Coordinator and team on military ranges and at Bisley. These will generally make use of Fig 11, Fig 12 and Fig 14 targetry or their civilian equivalents.