Page 3713

3713 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

buoy and then the battleships steamed

off to a proper range and blazed away.

Targets were usually not examined but

the officers merely estimated from the

ships the accuracy of the fire, and any

shot that struck in line with the target

was considered a hit.

While in Chinese waters Sims became

acquainted with a young British officer

named Percy Scott who had a device

for improving the marksmanship of gun

crews and developing expert gun pointers.

Owing to the great cost of firing a big

gun, target practice was, of course, extremely expensive and was rarely indulged

in. Scott had devised a plan of fixing

a smaller barrel to the top of the big gun.

The gun crew pointed the big gun but when

the trigger was pulled, the actual shot

fired came from the smaller barrel. By

means' of this device it was possible for

the crew to have very frequent practice.

Scott explained the plan to Sims, and Sims

equipped one of the big rifles on his own

ship with such a tube and trained a gun

crew in its use. In the next target practice

this crew easily defeated all others in the

Asiatic fleet. Sims thereupon urged his

superiors to adopt the plan generally

throughout the navy. His recommendations were pigeon-holed by the bureaucrats of the department and finally Sims

appealed directly to President Roosevelt.

Roosevelt well understood the importance of accurate shooting in warfare

and gave Lieutenant Sims an interview.

As a means of proving his contentions,

Sims proposed that the President order

a battleship to engage in target practice

under conditions which Sims should specify; a target should be set up, larger than

the one In use by the navy- and if, under

battle conditions, the gunners were able

to make a reasonable average of hits,

then Sims would confess that he was

guilty of presumptuous advice. Roosevelt

was struck by the suggestion and ordered

not one, but five battleships to undertake

the experiment. Sims selected an old

lighthouse on an old outlying reef and