Patrick O'Brian Discussion Forum

Re: How were the gun drills run?

Don Seltzer

Here is a typical scenario for a live gun exercise:

The cutter is dispatched with a float target made up of a few casks.  At perhaps a half mile away it is released.

The ship makes a slow striaght approach at perhaps 2 knots (200 feet per minute) on a course that will pass the target at about one cable distance off the starboard beam.

The starboard guns are loaded and trained forward about 45°.  When they bear on the target the gun captain fires and the clock begins.

The guns are reloaded, re-aimed, and fired a second time in about three minutes.  The ship has traveled 600 feet in this time and the target is nearly on the starboard beam.

Again the guns are reloaded, re-aimed, and fired for the third time.  Now the target is somewhat aft, with six minutes expired from the moment of the first gun.  If the crews were somewhat quicker, they might even get in a fourth broadside before the target was so far aft that the guns could not be trained around enough.

For an extended exercise, the ship could then be turned around to make a similar slow pass of the target on the larboard side.

On Mon Jan 30, mike barksdale wrote


>EXAMPLE: In the book, "Master and Commander", Jack Aubrey has his gun crew try and beat something like eight minutes. How do they shoot over that time? Did they all shoot from the larboard side, and then the captain would come about on the wind and then they would fire as she makes on the starboard side? I read it that one circuit of practice was actually firing four different broadsides. Did that mean that they would go port, starboard, port and starboard? 

>I am completely confused on this one part, and all five books I own that explain the Aubrey/Maturin books don't offer any insights into gunnery practice. Can one of you please help me?

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