Ben Comfort and the Wimbledon Cup in 1935
by Germán A. Salazar
by Germán A. Salazar
Ben Comfort in Western Ammunition advertisement, October 1935 American Rifleman
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
With the background information established, let's switch from a historical recount to the chronicle of events as presented in the October 1935 issue of the The American Rifleman (Pepys' Diary of Camp Perry, Kendrick Scofield, The American Rifleman, October 1935, p. 5 at 12):
September 11 - Arose as the chimes called six, resolved to observe the firing of that classic, the Wimbledon Match. This, together with the Leech contest which will be fired later, have always seemed to me to be the most fascinating of all the individual rifle-gun competitions, since they were well rooted even before the beginnings of the National Rifle Association program, and have been the reason for the keenest rivalry for upwards of those three-score years.
Out upon the firing line, I found to my great disappointment that this historic contest was being fired co-incidentally and upon the same range with the 1000 yard stage of the President's which perchance made for efficiency, but did cause it to be difficult to follow. So I remained but long enough to take note of the weather and a few of the tallys.
The earlier relays were blessed in that the wind was less to be reckoned with than later, although it was veering from 6 to 8 o'clock and coming puffily. Saw upon the scoreboards many Fives but also many zeroes; those latter where the suddenly dying wind had tricked the marksman. At that time noted only one possible tally of 100 with 13 V's and this credited to Lloyd Wilson of the Washington Civilians. [Note: Lloyd Wilson was L.E. Wilson of reloading equipment fame. Wilson was a Double Distinguished shooter and a topic for another day. -GAS-]
[Several paragraphs of unrelated material follow, then back to the Wimbledon]
Again to the range where the Wimbledon match was yet in progress, and found conditions much more difficult. The wind had shifted slowly but steadily clockwise until it was blowing straight across the range from due west. Observing, I did see riflement using from two to three points windage [two to three points windage equals eight to twelve minutes of angle -GAS-] and such an oldtimer as John Hession who has fired in practically every Wimbledon in twenty-five years, and now holds the record, did blow out of the V-ring for a low count.
At this time I did see that Wilson was still high scorer, but there were many yet to shoot and no small number of these were equipped with "bull guns" as are termed the heavy free rifles permitted equally in this event with Service rifles.
On my way into camp, stopped to sit awhile with Clem Parker and Jim Howe and Jim did acquaint me of a tabloid upon the gunsmith's art which he is preparing to publish. It is in his mind to have this book of value to the lover of firearms who is not wealthy, yet who has some knack with his hands.
By and by when cooler to the Wimbledon range again to hear that the wind was still difficult, and the score made earlier by Wilson had been equalled by some others. Yet there often comes a golden hour on this range, near sunset, when the wind steadies or its velocity dies, and it is at this time that a shooter may expect better breaks in both wind and light so that at this time the match had neither been won nor lost.
Now as the afternoon did grow apace, there entered into the contest a factor which was neither wind nor light, but was one Ben C. Comfort, a civilian from St. Louis, who had long aspired to the massive British trophy.
Though equipped with a bull gun he had yet found no occasion to target it at 1000 yards and the conditions as laid down for the Wimbledon do exclude sighting shots. To remedy this, he did bethink himself some days before of the President's Match, the final stage of which is at the long distance. So he did enter this competition, which is for Service rifles only, but did not fire in its earlier stages at his own request. Instead in mid-afternoon of this day he did report at the President's Match and did beg leave to fire his bull gun for record only, and to this the range officer did accede. So that two hours later (then acquainted with his elevations) he did shoot his tally in the Wimbledon which credited to him a perfect score with 14 V's.
When the firing was finished, it was found that in spite of the most adverse conditions, seven others had made possible scores with varying numbers of additional V's. They were Ernest Sellers, Alabama civilian; Sgt. C.J. Anderson, Marines; Ben Harrison, Massachusetts civilian, who incidentally was the only man in the match to make a possible score firing the Service rifle and iron sights; Lloyd Wilson of the Washington civilians; Vere F. Hamer, South Dakota civilian; C.E. Nordhus, Illinois civilian, and Sgt. Maj. Morris Fisher, Marine Corps Reserve. Yet none of the tallys made by these men did equal that of Comfort and to him was awarded the trophy.
End of quote from The American Rifleman, October, 1935.
Open to - Any citizen of the United States.
Prizes - To the winner, the Wimbledon Cup and a gold medal. To the high competitor with the service rifle a gold medal. To the second high with each type of equipment, a silver medal. To the eight next highest competitors with each type of equipment, bronze medals. Cash prizes (Schedule A).
No. Name and Organization Score Rifle1. Comfort, Ben, St. Louis, Mo. 100 **
2. Sellers, Ernest, Ala. Civ. Team. 100 **
3. Anderson, Clarence J., Sgt. USMC Team 100 **
4. Harrison, Benj. S., Mass. Civ. Team No.1 100 ***
5. Wilson, Lloyd E., Wash. State Civ. Team, 100 **
6. Hamer, Vere F., S. Dak. Civ. Team 100 **
7. Nordhaus, Conrad E., Ill. Civ. Team No. 1 100 **
8. Fisher, Morris, Sgt. Maj. USMCR 100 **
9. Swanson, Emmet O., Minn. Civ. Team 99 **
10. Link, Max W., Sgt. Inf. Team 99 **
11. McDonald, Hugh F., Ore. Civ. Team 99 **
12. Yeszerski, Edward, Sgt. Cav. Team 99 ***
13. Wills, Charles W., Sgt. Inf. Team 99 ***
14. Donalson, Edward A., Sgt. NJNG Team 99 **
15. Petersimes, Glen F., Mich. Civ. (Indiv.) 98 ***
16. Hamel, William G., Sgt. Cav. Team 97 ***
17. Crabb, Charles C., Okla. Civ. Team 97 ***
18. Gallman, Oscar L., Sgt. Inf. Team 96 ***
19. Shoemaker, Carl V., Capt. Ore. NG Team 96 ***
20. Hedglin, Leslie H., Sgt. Cav. Team 96 ***
Note: Names marked with two stars signifies any-rifle with any-sights. Names marked with three stars signifies Service Rifle with sights as issued.
(The American Rifleman, October 1935, p. 46)