Target and Sight
They continued their target practice in the wilderness on the next day. However, Borkal complained when he drove the carriage over to pick up Claude that the targets Claude had him make would be that simple. It was merely an erected rectangular wooden board nailed to a stick at the bottom.
“How many did you get them to make?” asked Claude.
“I have them make only two, but it was far too simple, so they made four more. There are six in total. All of them are at the back of the carriage,” replied Borkal.
Welikro said, “Claude, even though your targets are simple, they aren’t useful at all. Those targets we used yesterday are more or less the same size as actual animals. You can place them in the forest to train a hunter’s accuracy and estimation ability. The hunter will be able to quickly grasp the knack of shooting an animal’s vitals right away.”
Claude smiled. “Don’t worry about it. These targets are only half finished. You’ll understand when we get there.”
When they arrived at the spot where they practiced yesterday and plunged two of the targets upright on the ground, Claude took out sheets of target paper and handed one to Borkal. “There’s some starch glue on them. Stick this to the wooden board.”
Those were target papers cut into the rough shape of those wooden targets. There was a bright red circle in its center and larger, black circles spreading outwards. Claude had spent the better part of last night to make only 20 or so of them.
Welikro looked at the target papers and instantly understood what they could be used for. He gave Claude a thumb’s up and said, “These make ideal targets. How did you get that idea, Claude?”
Claude only smiled and shook his head. “Try it first. We’ll have to try it before we know if it’s useful.”
This time around, it was Welikro’s turn to shoot. He used only two shots to grasp the peculiarities of the gun and the third shot he fired hit the bull’s eye. After that, he told Borkal the offset of his gun and taught him how to adjust for it.
Borkal started practising excitedly. Even though the first few shots didn’t hit the bull’s eye, they did hit the target itself, much to his delight. He continued to practise while being coached by Welikro instead of going to look for Eriksson yesterday after he got bored.
The target papers Claude made greatly increased their hit rate in general. Welikro praised that the red center target made it much easier to adjust for the offset of the gun. It wasn’t like yesterday when Borkal couldn’t hit the boar or goat targets because there wasn’t any point he could focus his attention on.
It worked using a really simple principle. The gun’s firing points would first be lined up with the bull’s eye before a shot was made. After the shot, they could check the target paper and see where the bullet hole ended up. Repeated measurement would give them an average value for the offset and they only had to compensate for it later to hit the red point.
However, Claude still seemed a little dissatisfied. The aubass mark 2 in his hand still used two dot sights, or ‘firing points’, as the Freians called them, like early firearms. One of them was marked at the front of the barrel and the other was marked at the rear of the flash pan cover. Those two nicks were filled with a reflective white powder and they would help the shooter aim.
When the firing point at the front and back aren’t lined up in a line, the three-dot sight firing technique would end up quite useless. Every time before firing a shot, they would have to also adjust for the offset and that greatly affected the hti rate and also made it much harder to hit a target, especially a moving one.
Just as Claude was considering whether he should commission a blacksmith to make a sight for his gun, Borkal finished his practise for the day. He managed to shoot 30 times and his hit rate was 58 percent. His target paper was already full of holes.
Borkal was really proud of this result. He genuinely thought that he had talent for shooting, so he tore off his target paper to show it off to Eriksson. However, he came up with a business proposal he wanted to share with Claude at that moment. He suggested that they put together a small capital to produce more of those target papers and sell them through his family’s business. They would then split the profit according to a ratio.
“This is a genius design,” Borkal praised, “Not only does this make it easier to aim, the targets themselves can also be used for quite a number of times, a great improvement in terms of long-lastingness. I believe that this is a great business opportunity and that it’s worth investing a little money into it. Even if we don’t make a huge profit, we’ll still be able to break even at the very least and make some extra pocket money.”
Borkal wasn’t mistaken. His family’s firm only sold around seven or eight standard shooting targets in a year at a very low profit margin. Most of them were bought by the children of the upper class townsfolk for shooting practice. Even though the hunters and mountain folk have to practice shooting as well, they’d just use some random object as a target and wouldn’t spend money specifically for shooting targets. They’d rather spend the smallest amount of money on more alcohol and those who were handcraft-savvy would make their own targets anyway.
Additionally, the normal shooting targets didn’t last long. Most of them were made from chunks of wood scraps pieced together and would easily be smashed to smithereens by a shot fired in close proximity. Even if they lasted long, the myriad of bullet holes left on them would make it hard for a shooter’s accuracy to be predicted, even if they inked every single bullet hole they made before taking the next shot.
The targets of Claude’s design on the other hand were made of harder wood. No matter how many bullet holes made on the target itself, a new sheet of target paper could always be applied. The target paper didn’t have to be hand drawn like Claude’s. Printing them would be far more direct and it would be cheaper it made on a larger scale. That was the opportunity Borkal saw. While it might not make them a huge fortune, some extra allowance wasn’t out of their reach.
“Alright. Just tell me how much you need me to invest. Let’s consider it a small business the four of us start together,” said Claude. He didn’t really mind that idea and felt that leaving it to Borkal was a good call.
Borkal made some calculations and said, “I believe each of us only has to put in one thale. We’ll use two thales to make 20 targets for now and sell each one with 30 sheets of target paper and leave some as spare. I believe that selling each for three riyases should be a good price. I’ll also get my father to market to those shooting enthusiasts or bring some to the shooting ranges to sell.”
One wooden target and 30 or so target papers cost only around one riyas to make. While selling one for three riyases wasn’t a lot to ask, there was still two riyases of profit. It was a pretty worthwhile effort. Borkal really outdid himself with the calculations. It was too bad that it wasn’t a daily necessity and not many people needed them, so they might not be able to make huge volumes in sale.
Welikro didn’t have any other opinions about it. He believed that the targets Claude designed were great and it wouldn’t harm him to invest some coin. So, Borkal happily went to the jetty to look for Eriksson to ask him for his silver thale.
Borkal drove the carriage away and Claude continued to ponder how he would install an aiming sight near the muzzle of the gun. Welikro shot Borkal’s gun a few times before asking Claude what he was up to when he noticed that he had stopped shooting.
Claude shared his thoughts with him and Welikro wasn’t surprised. He said that these guns had existed for six centuries and most people were already used to shooting the way they did, so nobody saw the need to add an extra aiming aid and were content with the firing points. He believed that the reason Claude couldn’t aim well was lack of practise and said that he would get used to it after a few hundred more shots.
As the saying went, ‘there was no point in describing ice to a summer bug’. Claude couldn’t exactly use an example from his previous life to convince Welikro about it. He asked him where he could find a good smith in town that could forge small items. Seeing that Claude was so intent on making that sight he mentioned, he recommended a smithy situated in the south of town that charged reasonable prices and made decent goods. His father and he bought most of the equipment they needed for their hunting traps there.
Claude then went on to design a sight. It looked really simple and he modeled it after the airsoft guns he had played with in his past life. It was a protrusion one centimeter in width that was as tall as the flash pan. Beneath it was a ring that could fit around the muzzle of the gun. It had to fit tightly on the gun so that it didn’t fall off easily from the recoil but be easy to remove when there was need for it.
Additionally, Claude was prepared to change the rear firing point on the flash pan into a ‘U’ shape. It was too bad that the flash pan cover was supposed to move around and wasn’t suitable for aiming. However, Claude didn’t have any choice. He recalled the documentary he saw about the making of a flintlock gun that the last parts of a gun to be assembled were the front sights and rear notch. The two of them used in tandem would make a simple sight system.
There was also a related documentary that explained how aiming with flintlocks worked. Claude only gave it a casual watch and forgot most of the details. He did, however, remember the simplest principle: as long as the eye, the sighting window and the front sight were all aligned with the target, the shot would hit with great accuracy so long as the gun was held stably.
Another documentary he watched explained the installation and checking of a gun sight. The front sight and rear sighting window had to be lined up properly with a straight line in the center. When the front and rear sights were lined up with the eye, it had to be a straight line. However, the bullet fired would not necessarily shoot straight, so there would be a small adjustable notch on the rear sight that could be adjusted to compensate for it to achieve the desired result.
Claude remembered how a sighting window should look as well as the structure of such an adjustable notch. The issue was that the gun he held in his hand wasn’t a flintlock. The largest difference between the two was that there was a flash pan mounted on the barrel of a matchlock, alongside the slow match, serpentine, and so on. There was no way to install a sighting window in the proper position, and that was why Claude had the idea of mounting the sighting window on the flash pan cover itself since that component was situated at the rear of the gun anyway. He could possibly enlarge it to use it as a rear sight.
By the time Borkal returned with the carriage, Eriksson was on board, surprisingly, with a gloomy look on his face. He said that he didn’t manage to see his father the night before as the latter had attended a friend’s birthday party last night. Eriksson didn’t manage to meet his father in the morning after and only found that he had set sail when he returned from sail.
That was practically a nightmare for him. He had been planning to get some money from his father to use for his boat remodeling project. Seeing as his father would take at least ten days to half a month to return home after setting sail, his fishing boat project was greatly affected.
Eriksson said that Pegg’s payment could be delayed and he had most of the materials he needed in his storehouse anyway. But he would have to buy the adhesives and other miscellaneous things from the market in town and those would cost at least three to four thales. He would have to delay the project until his father’s return at least.
Eriksson had originally planned to borrow some money from his friends for it, but when Borkal came running to him to tell him about their little investment plan, Eriksson almost broke out in tears.
In the end, Welikro said that of the four thales he had Borkal keep for him, he would use one thale for their little business venture and lend the other three to Eriksson for his boat project. Borkal said that he would lend Eriksson two thales as well and cover his one thale investment for their venture.
Claude on the other hand was completely ignored by the other three. They knew that Claude spent his money on many things, such as when he treated them to a meal that day, when he bought books, when he bought the three items at Wakri’s and how he was going to go to a smithy to make iron sights. So, they didn’t even bother to ask him for money.