Whilst the shooters and coaches on the firing point are concentrating on the shooting, they could not compete without the markers at the far end of the range. The area where the targets are is called “the butts”. It is a long line of targets, (usually) with a large sandbank behind it for the bullets to fly into. Markers stand in a long concrete gallery, some 8 feet below ground level, open to the elements on one side but covered by a concrete parapet. In the USA, the shooters take it in turns to go down to the butts and mark the targets, however in Canada and the UK we rely on professional paid markers.
Markers can hear the crack of the bullet passing overhead and see the splash in the sandbank opposite. Looking up, (hopefully), a tiny shot hole has appeared in the paper target. The target is then pulled down and a small spotting disk inserted into the hole. Along the bottom of the target, the scoring panel indicates the value of the shot as shown here:
The old hole is patched up and the target is raised for the next shot. Those back on the firing point can then see where the shot has gone on the target.
Electronic targets are becoming increasingly popular as, despite the initial cost, feedback is instant and there is no need to employ markers or for competitors to mark targets. As the accuracy and reliability of electronic targets improves we anticipate they will be approved for use in national and international competition in the future.
When necessary, messages are sent down to the butts from the firing point by radio. If you watch on the firing point, you will often hear the shouting of cryptic messages – below we have included a list to help you understand the most common ones. Probably the most common one is “Message 4”. Should a shot be fired but the target hasn’t gone down the firing point will send this message to get the markers to mark it. Usually they have missed the shot, but occasionally it can be down to someone missing the target or cross-firing!
|1 – Firing about to commence
2 – No spotting disc visible
3 – Spotting disc disagrees with scoring panel
4 – Shot has been fired please check the target
5 – Challenge for higher score
7 – Miss has been signalled, challenge for a hit
|9 – Markers or shooter are slow
10 – Shooting has finished
11 – Suspected wrong shot hole has been patched
12 – Stand easy, pause in shooting
14 – Suspected another shot on target, please look