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 02nd May; Shooting Competition
Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:06 PM
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5/60th Rifles; Captain's servant
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Cotton slung his rifle and walked out to the field where he and Hagman had agreed to meet for their friendly competition. He'd had several people from his company tell him to beat the man for the honour of the 60th, but he didn't really mind if he lost. It was only a friendly rivalry, after all, and a test of skill.

The weather was perfect for what they were planning; not too hot, but with little enough breeze that they would not have to aim off. He'd managed to acquire a couple of targets from the 60th's quartermaster, on payment of a bottle of brandy (supplied by his Captain, on learning what was afoot) and he busied himself setting them up while waiting for Hagman and any spectators to appear.

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:06 PM
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Williams had no experience with rifles, and little contact with Riflemen, but he knew they were increasingly an important part of the Army. Very proud of their skills they were, too, as shown by this competition, organised in time that could have been spend drinking or relaxing, far from soldiering. He watched Hagman confer with the younger man - from the 60th - and relaxed.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:07 PM
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Hagman had slept quite soundly last night, no wonder after the amount of brandy he had. He was in a cheerful mood, looking forward to the little competition with Cotton. The lad seemed to be quite confident and he always took pleasure in competiting with a fellow rifleman. If he was a match for him he wouldn't even mind losing, but he would give his best to prevent that though.
As he arrived at the field he saw that Cotton was already there and preparing for the targets. Looking around he saw the red-coat Williams being there aswell. He made his way over to Cotton.

"Damn fine day for a shooting competition, eh Cotton? What do ya suggest how we should proceed?"
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:08 PM
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Cotton finally had the targets set up to his satisfaction. The wind would not matter to either firer, and he'd been careful to ensure that neither of them would be blinded by the sun either. He saw Hagman approach, followed by a redcoat.

"Afternoon," he called cheerfully. "I was thinkin', best of five shots wins. And if it's a draw, it's a draw. Will your man here judge for us?"

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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:09 PM
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"I'd be pleased to do that for you. It'll be a change from musket drill." Both men radiated confidence, and yet the outcome was clearly important to them. It would be interesting to see how well they did.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:09 PM
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"Aye, five shots each then. And 'course a draw's a draw."

He turned around to face Williams. He was thinking that the man wouldn't be a bad choice as umpire, as he probably would be quite unbaised not knowing either of them well and not being a rifleman himself.
"What say ya, Williams? Will ya call the shots for us?"
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:09 PM
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"If you wish. Do you want to toss for who goes first?"
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:10 PM
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"You go first if you like, Dan, I don't mind."

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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:10 PM
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"Right then, Cotton. Let's get a move on" He held out his hand to the lad "May the best shot win!"
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:11 PM
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"Aye. May the best shot win!" He shook Hagman's hand.

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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:11 PM
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They went to stand at fifty paces from the targets. Hagman decided to keep standing. He took another moment to look at the target again then started to load his rifle. After a slight tap to the ground he brought it to his shoulder to aim.
He whispered "now lass, make it good" and fired.
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:12 PM
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Cotton carefully replaced the ramrod and took his favourite position, kneeling. He sighted down the length of the barrel, lining up the sights with the target and squeezed the trigger.

The flint fell and the bullet was away in a cloud of smoke.

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:12 PM
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Williams left his stand by the two men and walked to the targets. He examined them, measured the distance from the centre, and marked the holes.

"Close, barely a blade's difference. But by an edge, Cotton's closer this one."

He stepped away from the targets and took up a waiting position.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:13 PM
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Hagman prepared for the next shot. He didn't mind Cotton winning this one. There were still four to come and he wasn't a Chosen Man for nothing.

He took up his rifle loaded it, again just gave it a slight tap to the ground and took aim. He fired.
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:13 PM
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Swiftly, Cotton reloaded, the movements practised and precise. A shake of powder into the pan, the rest down the barrel, followed by wadding and ball, then out with the ramrod, thrust it home and replace the ramrod.

Slip the ramrod back into its place and bring the butt up into the shoulder for the second shot. Again, a squeeze of the trigger to fire her.

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:14 PM
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Again the shots were almost central, one just nicking the edge of the previous shot. Williams checked carefully. With men such as these it would be best to be certain.

"As nicely balanced as a pair of scissors, the two of you," he said cheerfully. "That one is for Hagman."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:22 PM
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Grinning at Williams' words he shot a side glance at Cotton. The lad wasn't bad at all.

Taking up the rifle Hagman went through the loading process again. He brought his lass to his shoulder, queezed the trigger and the bullet hit home.
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:22 PM
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He was starting to get into the rhythm now that was there during battle, only without the continuous need to get it done quickly. He was glad he'd changed his flint the previous day, he thought, slipping the ramrod home after loading his third shot.

He brought the butt smoothly up to his shoulder and fired again.

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
"Who'll be a soldier for Wellington and me?" ~ The Rochester Recruit, trad.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:23 PM
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There was no doubt. Both shots lay exactly half way across the edge of the bull. The standard was good, and halfway through the competition things were dead level.

He raised his voice. "A dead heat. I wouldn't like to stand against either of you."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:24 PM
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He was completely taken now by the loved routine of firing. He really had missed it during the last couple of days.

Agian pouring the powder, spitting the bullet, a slight tap to the ground.
He aimed and fired the fourth shot.
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:31 PM
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Taking another cartridge from his pouch, Cotton forced away the excitement that started to bubble up inside him. This was no time to get excited and lose his head. Things could go either way now, and he couldn't afford to throw this shot away.

Again he reloaded, his movements calm and deliberate, though swift. He took a breath before sighting down the browned barrel of his rifle. "Good girl," he whispered, and squeezed the trigger again.

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
"Who'll be a soldier for Wellington and me?" ~ The Rochester Recruit, trad.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:32 PM
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Would their hands be that steady if facing an enemy? Riflemen did not stand in squares, where the steadiness of your stance was perhaps more important than the accuracy of your aim. But these two, against targets at least, were steady as a rock - or as two rocks.

"Dead heat again, gentlemen," he called. It would all depend on the last shot.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:32 PM
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Hagman couldn't supress a chuckle. It all depended on the next shot. He had to give it to Cotton, he really could stand his ground.

He reloaded the rifle carefully again, tapped it to the ground and brought it to his shoulder. He took a deep breath "You can do it, lass."

He aimed and released the last bullet.
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:33 PM
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The final shot. This was where it was won or lost, then. Cotton was sure he was starting to shake a little from the tension as he took another cartridge and primed his rifle, before again pouring the powder down the barrel. Again the wadding and ball went down and were sent home with the ramrod.

Bringing the gun back up into his shoulder, he was almost surprised to see he was holding it as steadily as ever. Letting his breath out a little, he squeezed the trigger.

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
"Who'll be a soldier for Wellington and me?" ~ The Rochester Recruit, trad.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 01:34 PM
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It was close - but not as close as the last two rounds had been. He rechecked, and looked back down at the two Riflemen. They were staring up at him, as intently as he had looked at the target.

Well, it wouldn't be fair to keep them in suspense. He started to walk towards them.

"I have rarely enjoyed an afternoon more. A splendid display of control. It would look good between the pages of one of those novels - a battle to the last shot."

By now he was aware that he was pushing his luck, so he held out his hand to Rifleman Cotton. "That last shot did it and you're the winner, Cotton. But lads, I'll be honoured to serve with you any time.

"Or to drink with you."
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