Mr. J. A. CURRIE.
I desire to add just a word to this rifle controversy. I have no intention of detaining the House, for I know that it is desirable to go on with another debate. I do not hold a brief for the Ross Rifle, nor do I hold a brief for the private manufacturers of the Lee-Enfield rifle, which latter, I believe, are at the bottom of this trouble. We must look at this matter fairlv and sensibly. Rifle matches, to my mind should afford a test of the marksmanship of the men and of the qualities of the rifle as well. We all know that the rifle, at the present moment and all over the world is in a transition state. The Boer war showed the necessity of improving, not the shooting quality of the rifle, but the sights and the means of manipulating the sighting with a view to giving greater effectiveness than had up to that time been attained at the long ranges. The old sights on the Lee-Enfield are almost identical with the sights on the old Brown Bess. The most experienced sportsmen and marksmen know that in order to obtain the highest degree of skill in the use of the small-bore rifle some improved methods of sighting must be adopted over those in vogue during the Boer war. While I do not wish to take any particular part in the
controversy, I may make a brief statement of the matter. The difference between the Lee-Enfield rifle and the Eoss rifle is largely a difference of the action, and the action has nothing to do with the shooting properties of the rifle, but is simply a matter of the mechanism that puts the cartridge into the barrel of the rifle. The shooting qualities depend entirely unon the quality of the barrel and also on the sights, plus ' the man behind the gun.' Now, the whole trouble with the National Eifle Association is that any Canadian who wishes to go to Bisley where he must fire the Lee-Enfield rifle or the Lee-Metford rifle must go down in his pocket for an expensive rifle manufactured by one of two or three well-known private makers of rifles in the old country. If he does not do that, he stands no show in the matches. After our men went to England, immediately after we had adopted the Lee-Enfield-which was different from the rifle they had, the Lee-Metford-our men carried off prizes to about the same extent as last year. Mr. Hayhurst carried off the Queen's prize, and did it with a rack rifle-not with a private rifle. This caused great clamour amongst the manufacturers of rifles in the old country, for it is an extensive business with large interests, as can be seen by the prizes offered for those who shoot a particular rifle. The British government then adopted the Canadian Lee-Enfield.
My view of the whole matter is that the self-respect of both countries should see to it that these matches are made contests, for rifles as well as of skill. This is necessary for us, and Great Britain, in order to have rifles more modern than any other nation. The. English rifle is entirely obsolete. I agree with the hon. member for Victoria and Haliburton, (Mr. Hughes), on that point-its calibre is too great and the partridge is useless, for it is a rim cartridge, instead of cannelured, and besides the sights are altogther obsolete. In view of the fact that this whole question is in a transition state, I think the self-respect of both countries and of all colonies that compete at Bisley should insist on virtual free trade in the matter of rifle shooting. If any colony insists on adopting a certain pattern of rifle, it must necessarily, in my opinion, carry a bayonet. I think that was the chief fault of the short Eoss rifle. But the short Eoss rifle was as good as the territorial rifle which is the standard arm of the British soldier to-day. I claim, as I said that there should be free trade in this matter, and that Canada should insist that the rifle she adopts, whether the Eoss rifle or any other pattern, shall be authorized in these matches, so long as the ammunition and the bayonet are . the same as those in use in Great Britain, and that the length of the rifle we fire is not too great. Also, marksmen should be permitted to experi-Mr. J. A. CUEEIE.
ment with their sights, in order that some sight may be invented which will make this rifle deadly accurate up to two thousand yards. The old open rifle sight is not accurate for more than six hundred yards, and everybody knows that in modern warfare the casualties occur at from about 1,300 down to 1,000 yards. A man must be able to use a rifle with deadly accuracy at 1,800 yards. What the hon. member for Victoria and Haliburton says is right; this rifle which they want to have used at Bisley is of an obsolete pattern. The rifle with which the British troops are armed is the territorial rifle, the short-barrelled Lee-Enfield, which they adopted after the Boer war. They cannot and will not use that arm at Bisley, because it is not nearly so good as the rifle they formerly had. Therefore, they want to" insist that we should follow their method, they want to compel our riflemen to purchase expensive rifles from the old country manufacturers of the match rifles. It seems to me that this is all a matter of ' Great is Diana of the Ephesians.' I do not care in this matter to use such strong language as that of my hon. friend from Victoria" and Haliburton (Mr. Hughes), but it is not right to compel our marksmen to pay up to $60 or $70 for a rifle in the old country which is no better than our standard rifle with which we carried off prizes, greatly to our credit as I think. We are no more breaking rules than they are, because the rifle that they use at Bisley is not their official arm. I think the time is opportune for us to make a protest. And, in view of the fact, that the British army is about to change their weapon-and possibly we might change also-this match at Bisley this year should be an open competition both as regards the rifle and as regards the sights. From the experience thus gained, the British government and this government will be better able to judge the right kind of rifle to choose. Unless rifles aTe subjected to the test of these great matches we cannot tell which one of them is the best. I might say that it is a matter that concerns every nation in the world to know which, new rifle is to take the place of the old. The Japanese have adopted a new automatic rifle which fires ten shots automatically. The new Mauser fires seven or eight shots without reloading, by simply pulling the trigger. The recoil of the rifle after a shot is fired is used for reloading. These changes have been adopted in rifles now in use. But the most important question of all is to know what form of sight we are going to use, and in order to develop the ingenuity of mankind, and help our soldiers to perfect a good sight, we should insist that they be allowed to use whatever sight can be adopted to the rifle, that might be used as a military sight. I am glad this ques-
tion has come up, and I hope the National Rifle Association will not stand for the welfare of the English private rifle makers against the interests of the empire.
Subtopic: THE ROSS RIFLE.