The hills near the St. Paul Fish and Game Club’s shooting range were booming with a familiar old sound on Sunday.

The club, in partnership with St. Paul Branch 100 of the Royal Canadian Legion, held its 12th annual “.303 British” shooting match on the weekend. Organizer Russell Whitford said there’s a lot of the old rifles—which were introduced in 1892 and served Commonwealth armies into the 1950s—still to be found in personal collections.

And there’s something special about them.

“These are antiques almost,” Whitford said. “We have the opportunity to come out and talk about our different models of firearm and do a little shooting. Some folks have more passion and maybe more skill than others,
but it’s all about getting out and talking about things and visiting and being active.”

Eighteen shooters competed. There are four categories to the competition, reflecting the different configurations of the rifle. Some of the guns are relatively modern, while others are definitely vintage pieces.

Whitford said the oldest rifle at the shoot was a Ross rifle from 1910. The Canadian-made Ross was issued to Canadian troops in the First World War, but it frequently failed on the battlefield.

“It had a bad reputation, only because it was so well-machined in Canada, it could not accept the dirt of the battlefield and variations of the British-contracted ammunition,” Whitford said. “It got a bad reputation but it was truly a fine firearm.”


Any Stock/Any Sights: Dallas Petry, 155/200

Any Stock/Iron Sights: Russell Whitford, 166/200

Original Issue: Russell Whitford, 183/200

Team event (Two shooters—one must be 60 years or older, and one rifle must be original issue): Myles and Russell Whitford, combined 360/400.

It was fun giving the old rifles a workout, Russell Whitford says. JEFF GAYE