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How Good Were Indians as Shooters??


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Interesting topic. Vestal, the author of the article wrote books about the Sioux back when some of the warriors from the Little Big Horn were still alive.

 

Most Indian boys were taught how to shoot arrows, throw rocks, and throw sticks to kill small game from the time they were old enough the walk. I read a story about the ability of one that killed ducks with rocks as they were taking off from water. The Hopi had rabbit sticks that they used to throw and kill rabbits. Judging distance and trajectory would become second nature so I would think transitioning to firearms would be an easy thing. Even though he didn't seem to act like it Custer had a great deal of respect for their ability with firearms.

 

I have read that the army limited practice with firearms to conserve ammunition. I have also read the soldiers didn't like the Springfield Trapdoor as it put a hurt and the person on both ends (their words). I suspect Indians had limited ammunition and wouldn't waste it on practice. But, how many shots would it take to figure out where a gun was shooting and adapt? It would be interesting to know who actually had more practice with their firearms. My guess would be the Indians.

 

While I have not read anything about long distance shooting among the Indians, that may have been more of a cultural thing as many of the Plains Indians wanted the honor of counting coup which meant getting close or even touching their opponent. Battle was a mostly individual thing to gain honor and respect in their tribe, not a massed frontal attack thing like us Anglos liked so well. Every account I have read that were written by the Sioux or Cheyenne told of riding among the bison and shooting point blank as they ran them.

 

 

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“How good were Indians as shooters?“


>>>>>>>> THE ANSWER IS.......

 

.....”Probably not as good as Billy Dixon at the Second Battle Of Adobe Walls.

 

Cat Brules

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That was one heck of a shot!!!!  

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I doubt they had enough ammo to practice. They probably were terrible shots. Maybe a few here and there were blessed with good hand eye coordination but you still have to practice! 

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From what I heard, the Indians didn't care for their weapons very well. Bore cleaning was one area that seemed to be neglected. 

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I Was really intrigued by this question.  So I went in search of answers.  Sometimes I do that.  I was unable to find anyone with a "first person" account of Native American practice nor skill with Firearms.  Couldn't find anyone who was there to provide comment.  So speculation and supposition are moot.

 

The only documented example I could fine was The Little Big Horn.  Seems Custer and his command didn't fare too well.

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Couldn't find any results from a competitive match but anyone with the stones to take on a buffalo with a bow and arrow/spear is a good enough shot in my book!

Regards

:FlagAm:  :FlagAm:  :FlagAm:

Gateway Kid

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Reno and Benteen's troops were pinned down by some Indian sharpshooters at LBH, which would have been at a fair distance to the target.  As the archeological dig indicated the Indians had more repeating rifles than Custer's battalion had men,  the Sioux and Cheyenne must have been pretty effective at close/medium range, although the most effective "fire" would have been high trajectory projectiles that could reach behind downed horses...arrows!  

 

Target practice among Army troops, especially cavalry was limited to 3 rounds per man per month of .45-70 or .45-55.  Depending on the post and the inclination of company commanders to have their troopers to target practice, after 1874, when the Trapdoor Springfield replaced the Sharps carbines in .50-70, some of the units retained a few of the Sharps which were used to arm their civilian employees in the field with the troops, but also for target practice and hunting to supplement their rations.  There were around 50,000 rounds of .50-70 ammo and five Sharps carbines at Sidney Barracks, NE, in the mid-70's.  How much actual practice occurred, I haven't been able to document.  However,  during the Rosebud Battle, Sidney's component of Crook's force, consisting of Companies C, G & I were able to hold off the Sioux who were attempting to take the high ground south of the creek.

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Thanks for posting that entire magazine. Everyone should read the first letter to the editor from the NYC veteran complaining how he was, even back in 1956, unable to own a handgun.  
 

Seamus

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8 hours ago, Go West said:

From what I heard, the Indians didn't care for their weapons very well. Bore cleaning was one area that seemed to be neglected. 

So imagine what they could have done if only they had some WD-40...

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Posted (edited)

Indians grew up as warriors. It was a cornerstone of their culture. They did not loose their cool or panic in battle. 

 

In battle the Native Americans could keep their cool and make their shots count. The #1 reason the military gave for not adopting repeaters is that soldiers in the heat of battle would resort to spray and pray. With single shots they wouldn't go through their ammo too quickly. 

 

Being out numbered 3 or 4 to one tends to make all but the most disciplined warriors panic. This is why the modern military trains like they fight. So that the correct actions are 2nd nature.

 

Another thing to consider is that Native Americans fought heavily from horse back while the military often tended to fight dismounted in skirmish lines or clusters. A single 405 grain 45-70 or 50-70 will easily penetrate the body of a horse with enough remaining kinetic energy to kill or injure the soldier hiding behind it. The same round will easily pass through 2 or 3 people. Cluster soldiers close together with little movement and the odds of hitting 2 or more go up significantly. While hitting 1 guy on horseback riding a a full gallop is a matter of luck when you look at how poorly trained the average soldier was. 

 

In SASS we have all seen that there is no target too close or big to miss and our targets are not trying to kill us.    

Edited by Sedalia Dave
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12 hours ago, Bailey Creek,5759 said:

The Nez Perse out shot the army and out manuvered them for months.

Yea and they still lost and wound up on reservations!! Apparently they didn't outshoot them long enough!

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On 5/30/2021 at 6:51 AM, Rye Miles #13621 said:

Yea and they still lost and wound up on reservations!! Apparently they didn't outshoot them long enough!

Failure to recon their exact position when they stopped to rest in the Bears Paw Mtns. 50 more miles and they would have been in Canada and safe if they stayed there

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On 5/29/2021 at 7:02 PM, Sedalia Dave said:

 

…While hitting 1 guy on horseback riding a a full gallop is a matter of luck…   


I’d aim at the bigger target, the horse.  If the rider was able to stand after hitting the ground at a full gallop, he’d get the second shot…next problem.

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5 minutes ago, Matthew Duncan said:


I’d aim at the bigger target, the horse.  If the rider was able to stand after hitting the ground at a full gallop, he’d get the second shot…next problem.

What if they are riding Shetlands...

 

:mellow:

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1 minute ago, Phantom, SASS #54973 said:

What if they are riding Shetlands...

 

:mellow:

Aim low.:D

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5 minutes ago, Phantom, SASS #54973 said:

What if they are riding Shetlands...

 

:mellow:

Aim lower.

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