Morris Fisher - Additional Information
by: Germán A. Salazar
by: Germán A. Salazar
Sgt. Morris Fisher with Major General John A. LeJeune, Commandant of the Marine Corps. Fisher is holding a 300 meter target and his target rifle (click photo to enlarge).September 27, 1923.
There's really nothing of substance that I can add to Hap Rocketto's excellent piece on Morris Fisher. However, there are a few tidbits that I thought I'd share. The first simply the text of Fisher's calling card, a copy of which I happen to have. It is a folding card, the exterior reads:
The inside has a partial list of his major wins, and reads as follows:
CWO M. Fisher, U.S. Marine Corps
World's Indiv. Rifle Champion, 1923 - Camp Perry, Ohio
World's Indiv. Rifle Champion, 1924 - Rheims, France
Olympic Indiv. Rifle Champion, 1920 - Antwerp, Belgium
Olympic Indiv. Rifle Champion, 1924, Chalons, France
World's Indiv. Prone Champion, 1923 - Camp Perry, Ohio
World's Indiv. Kneeling Champion, 1923 - Camp Perry, Ohio
World's Indiv. Kneeling Champion, 1924 - Rheims, France
National Free Rifle Champion, 1923 - Camp Perry, Ohio
Visitors Individual Cup Match, 1924 - Lima, Peru
International Rifle Team, 1921 - Lyon, France
International Rifle Team, 1922 - Milan, Italy
International Rifle Team, 1923 - Camp Perry, Ohio
International Rifle Team, 1924 - Rheims, France
International Rifle Team, 1925 - St. Gall, Switzerland
International Rifle Team, 1928 - Hague, Holland
International Rifle Team, 1929 - Stockholm, Sweden
International Rifle Team, 1930 - Antwerp, Belgium
Olympic Rifle Team, 1920 - Antwerp, Belgium
Olympic Rifle Team, 1924 - Charlons, France
Pan American Rifle Team, 1924 - Lima, Peru
Marine Corps Rifle Team, 1913 - Camp Perry, Ohio
Marine Corps Rifle Team, 1916 - Jacksonville, Fla.
Marine Corps Rifle Team, 1919 - Caldwell, N.J.
Marine Corps Rifle Team, 1927 - Camp Perry, Ohio
Marine Corps Rifle Team, 1931 - Camp Perry, Ohio
Marine Corps Pistol Team, 1931 - Camp Perry, Ohio
Marine Corps Pistol Team, 1932 - Quantico, Va.
USMC Rifle & Pistol Champion, 1931 - Quantico, Va.
Distinguished Rifle Shot, 1916 - Jacksonville, Fla.
Distinguished Pistol Shot, 1923 - Quantico, Va.
Division Pistol Champion, 1923 - Quantico, Va.
USMC Indiv. Rifle Champion, 1921 - Quantico, Va.
USMC Indiv. Rifle Champion, 1931 - Quantico, Va.
Navy Match (Standing) 1928 - Camp Perry, Ohio
Winner of Matches at Sea Girt, N.J. - 1919
Winner of Matches at Wakefield, Mass. - 1927
That partial list would be enough to fill dreams for the rest of us for several lifetimes.
I have copies of both of Fisher's books, the one on rifle shooting and the one on pistol shooting. These are meant to be introductory texts, much like the manuals written by the USAMU decades later. Here are a few pictures for you to get an idea of their content.
I have two copies of the rifle book, but neither has the dust jacket. The pistol book has a pretty good dust jacket, inside the original price is marked as $2.50.
Here's a page from the pistol book showing Harry Reeves who won the National Pistol Championship six times. He was the ultimate master of the revolver in Bullseye shooting.
Here is Fisher in one of a series of photos showing how to use the sling for offhand. Note the Krag!
Here's Fisher with the Krag again.
From The Infantry Journal, Volume 19
United States Infantry Association
July 1921 to December 1921.
(click text to enlarge)
Measuring the Case
by: Germán A. Salazar
Before we measure anything it is important to have an understanding of its characteristics and of the required resolution in our measurements as these factors will determine how we measure and with what instrument. Some dimensions can be measured directly, others can only be measured indirectly. We will demonstrate each of these and explain the measuring technique and instrument used. With respect to diametrical measurements, the most important thing to understand about the cartridge case is that it is tapered. If it were not tapered, it would be extremely difficult to form, to chamber, to extract and to resize. The tapered form makes all of these processes relatively simple, but it makes measuring the case a bit more complicated. Most importantly, it means that when we measure a case at a given point along its length, we need a means to return to that same point or the readings will not be comparable. The taper and the round shape of the case also influence the type of measuring instrument used. Some dimensions are linear and simpler to determine, let's begin with those.
The first dimension every reloader learns to check is case length. The reason is fundamental safety - if the case is too long for the chamber, the case mouth will be jammed onto the bullet, greatly and dangerously increasing pressure as the powder charge burns and the bullet does not release as designed. For each case that is standardized by SAAMI or CIP there is a maximum acceptable case length and a minimum or "trim-to" length. These dimensions are listed in all reloading manuals and should be followed without exception. Using the .30-06 as an example, the maximum case length as listed in the Sierra reloading manual (which we will use for all references) is 2.494". I trim to 2.475" as shown, which gives me about three resizings before it's time to trim again.
Case length can be measured with an ordinary set of calipers, whether of the vernier, dial or electronic type. A measurement resolution of 0.001" which is within the capability of even the most modestly priced calipers is sufficiently close for this type of measurement; there is no need for more precise measuring instruments such as a micrometer for this application. If your electronic calipers show a fourth digit after the decimal point (ten-thousandths) ignore it for this purpose. There is also no need to try to make each case absolutely identical in length; if you get them all to within 0.002" of each other, you're doing fine. Tooling and technique will influence the consistency of your trimming, but with practice and good measuring technique, you'll have safe cases.
Because resizing causes the case to grow in length, case length is measured after resizing. However, you may want to measure before and after sizing to see just how much the case is growing. In those situations, be sure to remove the primer with a decapping tool or die (not the sizing die) before measuring the case as it can influence the reading if it protrudes at all from the case head where the caliper jaws rest. While you're examining the case, make sure there are no burrs on the edge of the rim as can be caused by the extractor (particularly with semi-autos) or from being dropped on concrete surfaces. If so, the burr can be carefully filed off or the case discarded depending on the severity of the damage. Use the wide part of the caliper jaws to get solid contact for the case.
Another way to check length is with a case gauge. In reality, the gauges, such as those made by Wilson or Forster, are a more useful tool for checking length than calipers. The gauge checks neck length, which is actually the critical dimension and can't be measured directly because you cannot accurately and consistently place a set of caliper jaws at the base of the neck. By using a gauge, you can see the minimum and maximum length of the neck as steps on the gauge and by running your finger across the gauge with the case inserted you will know if the case is too long. After trimming you can quickly recheck the case to ensure that it is short enough but not too short. This is the only instance where your finger can actually give a better result than a measuring instrument!
Unless you have the reamer print for the reamer used to cut your rifle's chamber you probably don't know the exact diameter of the chamber neck. The chamber neck diameter can be indirectly measured by measuring the neck diameter of a fired piece of brass and adding 0.001" to that dimension. This technique is accurate enough when using relatively new brass (three firings or less). If this method shows that you have at least 0.004" neck clearance in the chamber (calculated chamber neck diameter minus loaded round neck diameter) then the brass is safe to use.
If your result indicates less than 0.004" clearance you should take further steps to really determine the chamber neck diameter; obtaining a reamer print is the most useful way to do this. Additionally, for clearances below 0.004" you should consider neck turning to ensure that every cartridge has adequate clearance. Unfortunately, there is enough variance in different lots of brass that when your chamber neck is close to minimum with one lot, it may be dangerous with another, slightly thicker, lot or brand. As an example, Lapua brass is significantly thicker than Winchester brass; my .308 has a chamber neck dimension of 0.336" (below SAAMI standards) ammunition loaded in Winchester brass measures 0.333" and is safe (though I neck-turn to that dimension to make sure), whereas ammunition loaded in unturned Lapua brass would measure 0.338" and will not even chamber. Neck clearance is a critical safety item and must be checked!
The next problem to solve is taking a reading at a specific point and being able to repeat that point to check a series of cases meaningfully - or the same case before and after resizing. In the pictures you can see how I've set up a measuing fixture from a few normal items: a small steel plate, a piece of leather (vise jaw pad) and a small c-clamp. All of these items stay together in my tool box so that the setup can be repeated over time.
When measuring base diameter, it is the change from one condition to another (unsized vs. sized, or fired with load A vs. fired with load B) that interests us. The micrometer gives us resolution below 0.001", in fact, depending on the micrometer, you may be a couple of decimal points beyond that - but that doesn't mean you should believe the numbers! A micrometer, especially a modern digital version has the ability to resolve to an incredibly small degree, however, the accuracy of those numbers is dependent on very skilled and refined technique on the thimble as well as temperature, material and other factors. For our purposes (ham-handed reloaders measuring soft brass at varying temperatures), any two measurements taken with care and within 0.0003" (three tenths) of each other, should be considered to be the same. If your micrometer reads below tenths, cover that last digit with tape, it'll just distract you!
Measuring neck thickness is often useful, and is essential when turning necks. If all you need to do is determine chamber neck clearance, measuring loaded diamter and determining chamber neck size as described earlier will suffice. However, when we get into more precise operations, knowing the exact thickness of the case neck is important. Here again, we need a specialized micrometer, in this instance a ball micrometer. The case neck is, of course a round surface and we are interested in a specific point thereon. Trying to measure neck thickness with calipers is useless, irregularities at the case mouth and slight variations in thickness along the length of the neck will degrade the accuracy of any reading. Worse yet, the caliper jaws have a certain amount of width, flat surface, which does not conform to the round surface of the case neck; this results in a gap, however minute, between the surface of the jaw and the inside of the case itself and no such reading can be accurate. The ball anvil on a ball micrometer makes point contact with the interior of the case neck and the flat outer anvil also makes point contact along the opposing point on the exterior of the neck.
As with the case base measurement, it is important to create a method that allows you to consistently measure the same spot on the case neck. The case neck tapers from mouth to base, so if you aren't measuring the neck at the same place along its length each time, you aren't getting useful results. You can see in the photos that I've made a small step on the micrometer for the case to rest on. This allows me to read the same place each time. If you look carefully at the picture of the leather vise jaw pad used in the case base measurement, you'll see where our little step came from. Be resourceful!
This article is not for the beginner or for those who are not mechanically inclined. Trigger adjustment is a delicate and potentially very dangerous process. Improper adjustment can result in a hazardous condition and injury or death to yourself and others. Triggers for competition rifles are adjustable by the user and this article is intended to further the understanding of that procedure for users with enough experience and mechanical aptitude to do so safely. If you aren't in that category, do not undertake trigger adjustments, have a competent gunsmith do it for you.
Understanding and Adjusting the CG X-Treme Trigger
by: Germán A. Salazar
Understanding and Adjusting the CG X-Treme Trigger
by: Germán A. Salazar
Starting in the early years of the 20th Century Marine skill with small arms would strike fear into the hearts of German infantrymen crouched in the muddy trenches of France, insurgents lurking in the banana plantations and sultry jungles of the Caribbean, and Japanese soldiers hunkered down in musty coconut log pillboxes and caves throughout the Pacific. Later, in inhospitable lands on the mainland of Asia, Marine marksman would disrupt enemy lines of communication with long range rifle shooting that would become legendary. On the more friendly fields of fire, at rifle ranges around the world, they would win shooting tournaments in numbers well out of proportion to the small size of The Corps.
International fame as a rifleman did not seem the fate of the 21-year-old recruit whose mediocre scores accurately reflected his lack of interest. If it were not for the observant eye of his company commander the violin playing Morris "Bud" Fisher might have ended up merely as a competent member of the string section of the Marine Corps Band, 'The President's Own', rather than the world renowned marksman he became. Fortunately, the company commander noted a certain tenacity of spirit and aptitude in the broad-chested, bull-necked recruit who committed the unforgivable Marine sin: he had failed to qualify with his rifle.
The officer encouraged Fisher and he, in turn, applied himself and became an acolyte of the rifle. By dint of hard work and continuous practice Fisher not only qualified at last, but also earned a berth on the 1912 Marine Rifle Team. He and his teammates were destined to appear in the winner's circle at Camp Perry after completion of the National Trophy Match. He became a mainstay of the team and just three years later he was able to pin the coveted Distinguished Rifleman Badge on the left breast of his blue uniform tunic.
The importance of his early efforts was not lost upon Fisher. Some 15 years later this Marine Corps qualification badge would be displayed prominently beside the five Olympic Gold medals in his trophy case. He would comment that when he earned that simple silver symbol of shooting achievement he felt he had reached "the pinnacle of fame".
When the United States was drawn into World War One the Marine Corps was deployed to France. Fisher sailed for Europe in September 1918 as a member of the Thirteenth Marine Regiment, part of the Fifth Brigade, and served there under General Smedley Butler. Butler, "Old Gimlet Eye" as he was known throughout The Corps, was a colorful character and a Marine of 'The Old Corps'. Typical of a Marine of the era he had seen service in Cuba during the Spanish American War, China during the Boxer Rebellion, and Haiti during the Banana Wars. He was a man who had experienced action, been awarded the Medal of Honor, and was tugging at the leash in anticipation of leading his men against the Hun.
However, the Thirteenth Marines were not destined to active service on the front. They were assigned to serve as part of the Services of Supply and performed duties that insured that the logistical train of the United States forces in France functioned. It was a job that must be done. It was not a heroic role in the minds of the Thirteenth Marines, perhaps they thought the unit's number was indeed unlucky, but they were Marines and the job would be done with the traditional esprit d'corps that stretched back to its humble beginnings at Tun Tavern. The Thirteenth would work with great efficiency and energy and play just as important a role in the victory as did the combat soldiers it served.
The Marines that arrived in France, Fisher among them, were well-schooled riflemen. It was Marine Corps policy that no Marine be sent to France unless he had qualified with the rifle. To insure that marksmanship skills were maintained rifle ranges were established anywhere the Marines chanced to be garrisoned for any extended period of time. It became obvious that the training received by the Devil Dogs in peace was paying dividends in war. In 1918 The Major General Commandant was able to report to the Secretary of the Navy that Marine marksmanship training was so ingrained that foreign officers had noted that Marines would, "...stop and change their sights...in the hottest fighting..."
After hostilities ceased on November 11, 1918 shooting took on a more recreational tone. In a precursor to the 1920 Olympic Games the Allied Expeditionary Forces conducted a giant athletic competition prior to the 1919 demobilization of the triumphant armies. In preparation for the international event the American Expeditionary Forces Rifle, Pistol, and Musketry Competition was held as a preliminary trial on the d'Avours Range at Le Mans, France in May of 1919. Fisher's Thirteenth Marine team ended in seventh place.
Three months later the Inter-Allied Championships were held at the same location. Fisher was there and that he had lost none of his skill was evidenced by the fact that he was one of only four Marines on the United States team, a team that won a majority of the rifle shooting events against the best shots in the victorious European forces. A few months later a special Inter-Allied rifle tournament was held at Paris. Five man teams shot at 300 meters. The host French team won with the United States team finishing in second place. Soon after the completion of this tournament Fisher returned home.
Belgium, shattered and trampled by the shells and feet of the armies that alternately advanced and retreated across it, was selected as the site of the 1920 Olympics. In preparation for United States participation in the Olympic shooting program candidates for the rifle events met for tryouts at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia. After five days of firing at distances of 300 and 600 meters the original 100 candidates were whittled down to seventeen. Of the finalists seven had experience in either the 1908 and 1912 games. Fisher was one of the rookies selected to shoot in both the 300 meter prone and position events.
After the team was selected, Kellogg Kennon Venable Casey was drafted to select the rifles and ammunition. Casey, among the most prominent elder statesmen of the sport, had impeccable credentials. A veteran of five Palma teams, he had won the Wimbledon Cup three times. In 1908 he scored a unique hat trick by winning an Olympic silver medal and both the Wimbledon and the Leech Cups. Casey set about the task of selecting the best stocks, actions, barrels, and .30-06 ammunition. His attention to detail would pay off handsomely for the shooters heading to Belgium. In addition to this select group of Springfield 1903s additional Springfields were fabricated with set triggers for the free rifle event.
The rules at the time did not allow for the use of the sling to support the rifle, or individual telescopes to spot shots and read the wind. As a result the United States team practiced that way while hoping to lodge a protest of the two rules so that they might use the shooting aids. Arriving at Antwerp the sling protest was quickly registered and just as quickly denied. However, the United States shooters were unexpectedly allowed to use their spotting scopes. Armed with their selected rifles and ammunition the five-man team won the gold, a full six points ahead of second place France. The top three United States shooters, Carl Osburn, Lloyd Spooner, and Fisher dropped but one point apiece, thanks to the skill and the care lavished upon equipment selection by Casey.
The three-position match, requiring the shooter to fire prone, kneeling, and standing, was an entirely different matter. The event was not popular in the United States and seldom fired so the specialized equipment needed to do well was not readily available. Likewise the kneeling position, which can be most uncomfortable over a long 40 shot course of fire, was also rarely practiced. The free rifle, now so common, with its heavy barrel, adjustable butt plate, palm rest, set triggers, and sculpted and adjustable stock was not to be found on the ranges in the United States. They did, however, have available to them the set triggers on the Springfields selected by Casey. Willis Lee and Osburn elected to use them. Fisher, however, chose to stay with his more familiar issued service rifle that he had used on the winning prone team. Under these circumstances the United States team was considered to be both out gunned and ill prepared.
Despite the fine sitting score all was not velvet for Fisher that day. As experienced as he was, and as in control of his emotions as he might seem to be, he had considerable difficulty in getting started during the standing stage. Like Sherlock Holmes, he too played the violin to relax but the sounds issuing forth from his shooting booth were not the relaxing melodic tones of horsehair on catgut. They were the exasperated gasps of someone who had "put on the collar".
After some 20 minutes of indecision, his coach, tired of the inaction and procrastination, simply ordered him to fire. The next time his sights swung past the black Fisher snatched at the trigger and, when he recovered from the recoil, found he had, much to his surprise, not only hit a scoring ring but also had regained his composure. He went on to chalk up an aggregate of 996 for the Gold medal, an 11 point margin over Niels Larsen of Denmark.
The United States shooters left the ranges at Beverloo hauling eight gold, one silver, and one bronze from the team events and five gold, four silver, and three bronze medals for the individuals. It was a banner year and would set the stage for a dominance in shooting by the United States that would not be seen again until the 1960s and 1970s, when Gary Anderson, Lones Wigger, Margaret Murdock, Jack Writer, and Jack Foster would lead a second US shooting gold rush.
In 1921 Fisher returned to France to compete in the International Championships at Lyon with a rifle that was a refinement of the basic '03. The artificers at Springfield Arsenal had selected 10 rifles and then set them up in three stock conformations that the individual shooters could continue to adapt to themselves. They varied by stock shape, either open or aperture sights as the shooter desired, and hooked butt plates. The improvements helped the shooters increase individual performance and score and the United States won, but there was still much to be done.
The 1922 International Championships were to be held in Milan, Italy in September and Fisher was again named to be a member of the rifle team. By this time the Springfield staff had produced a much advanced match rifle based upon the '03 action. The Model 1922 International Rifle had a spherical cork palm rest, adjustable butt plate, the innovative idea of the now common adjustable upper sling swivel, a set trigger of European design that was manufactured by the Marine Corps Small Arms Arsenal and Armory in Philadelphia, and a Lyman 48 receiver sight with hooded aperture front sight and interchangeable inserts. These rifles, in the hands of the likes of Fisher and fellow Marines Captain Joseph Jackson and Marine Gunner Calvin Lloyd helped the United States maintain its championship crown by a 12 point margin over the Swiss.
Lloyd, for whom the range complex at Quantico is named, was an alternate while Major Littleton W. Tazewell Waller, Jr. USMC, was the team captain. Waller was a second generation Marine. His father, General L.W.T. Waller, Sr., a crony of Fisher's old commanding officer Smedley Butler, had led a landing party of United States Marines ashore at Alexandria, Egypt in 1884 to put down insurrection while under the command of British Admiral Sir Charles Beresford. The stocky flamboyant Waller, known as 'Tubby', wore the Distinguished Badge, served in China as did his father, with the 5th Marines in France, would rise to the rank of major general, and become the President of The National Rifle Association of America.
The Twentieth International Championship Match would be shot at Camp Perry in 1923. This must have been a double pleasure for Fisher. In the first place he was very familiar with the ranges and conditions at Perry and it would ease his task a bit. Secondly he was a native of the Buckeye State, having been born in Youngstown on May 4, 1890, and there is no better crowd than a hometown crowd.
As it turned out, not only was Fisher the high scoring member of the United States Team, but he also led the team to a new world record by example. The team smashed the record of 5,172 established by the Swiss in 1912 with a score of 5,301 with Fisher's 1,090 being a new world individual record. From this competition it was on to preparation for the 1924 Olympics.
While Fisher and others attended to this task a few Marines in the former French colony of Haiti had earlier set the stage for an unusual confrontation. United States interests in the Caribbean, sometimes called the American Mediterranean, resulted in concern about the political upheaval in several of the small island nations. In response to the civil unrest in Haiti the United States Government ordered the Marines to land and to restore order and protect United States property.
The Marines brought order from anarchy and as part of the process trained the Gendarmerie, or the Garde d’Haiti, as it became known, in Marine doctrine that included, of course, superb marksmanship. Colonel David McDougal and Major Harry Smith, veterans of the Marine Shooting Team, organized and trained the Haitians in the fine art of shooting tight groups. Soon ranges at Las Cahobas, Mirebalais, Port au Prince, and Post Chabert echoed with the rattle of gunfire as the high standard of marksmanship demanded by the Marines was passed on to the Haitians.
Prior to the 1924 Olympics the United States Shooting Team found itself in Rheims, France where Fisher and his teammates warmed up for the Olympics by competing in the World Championships. The team used the "International Match Rifle, Cal.30, Model of 1924" which was much like the rifle used in 1922 with additional modifications that included a Winchester Globe front sight and a Garand Super Speed Firing Mechanism,designed by the father of the M1. Some of the rifles were equipped with the European style set trigger while others used one designed by Frank Rinkuna, a Marine armorer working at the Marine's Philadelphia arsenal. Using one of these improved rifles Fisher departed for Rheims with a hefty head of steam. The team was victorious and he had earned the 1924 Individual Free Rifle World Championship crown.
The VIII Olympiad's venue was Paris. The location was selected in sentimental deference to France's native son, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who founded the modern games and was about to retire from his post as President of the International Olympic Committee. These games are best known through the popular motion picture Chariots of Fire, a romanticized, if somewhat inaccurate, version of the stories of Great Britain's celebrated track stars Eric Liddell and Harold Abrams.
The 1924 Games marked the first central control of the events schedule by the International Olympic Committee, the beginning of the collective housing of athletes in an "Olympic Village", and Harold Osborn becoming the only Decathlete to win both that punishing event and an individual gold in another event in the same games. There would be just as much historic action in the shooting events.
The rifle matches were conducted at Chalons where ranges had been constructed just for the Olympics. The setting was attractive, the matches were well run, and the United States Team found the range to their liking. The match opened up with Fisher, fresh from winning the International Championship, dropping but one point in the 600 meter prone match. Teammate Carl Osburn tied Fisher's score and earned the silver medal when he lost five points to Fisher's two in a shoot-off. Osburn, who first shot in the Olympics in 1912, would retire after this Olympiad with a record setting total of 11 medals: five gold, four silver, and two bronzes. Fisher's win in this event made him a two time individual gold medallist with the center fire rifle. This feat would remain unduplicated for 44 years until Gary Anderson would win his second gold in 300 meters in 1968 at the Mexico City games.
After the individual match Fisher was teamed with Sidney Hinds, Joseph Crockett, Ray Coulter and Walter Stokes for the Army Rifle Match. The course of fire required the shooters to fire ten shots each at 400, 600, and 800 meters. The Army's handsome strapping young Lieutenant Hinds opened the match with a blistering 50 X 50. It was an outstanding score made all the more impressive because of an event which had occurred a short while earlier at the World Championship.
During the match at Rheims a Belgium shooter took umbrage at a referee's call and began to argue. With scant regard for safety he leaned his loaded rifle against a table and proceeded to lambaste the referee. In the heat of the argument, his arms swinging in mad gesticulation, he dislodged the rifle, knocking it to the floor where it discharged with a roar. The sound of the blast and the vicious wasp-like buzz of the bullet as it caromed off of the concrete surfaces of the shooting house silenced all. The expended bullet lightly struck a French shooter who responded with such intense Gallic histrionics that everyone ran over to attend to him.
Hinds was slow to move to the Frenchman's aid because his foot ached from what he thought was a bruise made by the heavy target rifle barrel striking him. Looking down he saw that the muzzle lay, not on his foot, but a few inches away. He was astonished to see a rent in the toecap of his boot. 'Tubby' Waller, who was coaching the team, barked at Hinds "If you stop shooting, I'll shoot your other foot myself!" Not sure that Waller was serious, but not wanting to take a chance with the old China Marine, Hinds continued showing the stern stuff of which he was made. As blood welled up from the furrow the Belgium bullet had plowed across the tops of his toes he took up his rifle and resumed shooting. He shot a good score that day, would eventually earn general's stars, and father a son, Sidney Hinds, Jr., who would come to command the United States Army Marksmanship Training Unit at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The United States team left the 400 meter line with an average score of 49X50, just two points ahead of the host country France and a handful of points ahead of a pack made up of Switzerland, Finland, and Haiti. After the 600-meter stage the United States shooters were still in the lead but nervously looking over their shoulders at the Marine trained shooters from Haiti who were breathing down their necks. One can only imagine the mutinous thoughts that Sergeants Fisher and Coulter, the two Leathernecks on the team, were harboring against Colonel McDougal and Major Smith and their all together too successful efforts to improve marksmanship in Haiti.
In the end the strong United States team anchored by Fisher's 142X150, four points above the next highest score, left the Haitians and their former colonial masters 30 points back in the dust. Tied at 646 each the French earned the silver and the Haitians the bronze after a shoot off. The team match victory gave Fisher his fifth Olympic Gold Medal.
These results of these shooting events proved historic. The Olympic record for gold earned by an individual shooter is five. The only three shooters ever to reach this milestone did so at these games. Norway's Ole Andreas Lilloe-Olsen earned his medals in running deer competition while the other two, Americans Carl Osburn and Fisher, did so in the more conventional rifle events. Since team events have been dropped from the Olympic schedule it is unlikely that this record will ever by matched.
It is easy to conceive of Fisher collecting several more Olympic golds, for he was a shooter to be reckoned with through the mid 1930s. However there were to be no shooting events to be contested at the 1928 Amsterdam games and the only rifle events at the 1932 Los Angeles and 1936 Berlin Games were 50 meter smallbore prone matches, which were not a Fisher specialty. By the time the next 300 meter matches would be shot, in London in 1948, Fisher would be retired. So Fisher's amazing Olympic career ended while he was at the peak of his power, not because of lack of skill, but rather because of lack of matches.
Another historic side light to the 1924 games involved 17-year-old Marcus Dinwiddie of Washington, DC who became the youngest Olympic medal winner of a shooting event when he won silver in the prone smallbore match. His achievement would stand for 72 years. Kim Rhode, another young United States shooter, was barely a week past her 17th birthday, when she won the inaugural gold medal in the Women's Double Trap event at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Fisher would continue to be a big gun on the Marine team. Soon after the end of the Olympics he headed south to Lima, Peru. Here he shot in an international tournament where he won the individual championship and was part of a team that won two matches. The next year, 1925, he would travel to Switzerland and be part of a team that tasted defeat for the first time in many years. During the next years he would be a familiar figure at the major matches and ranges of the time: Camp Perry, Ohio, Quantico, Virginia, Sea Girt, New Jersey, and Wakefield, Massachusetts.
Fisher would again head overseas in 1928 and 1929 to represent the nation in matches at The Hague, Holland and Sweden. In 1930 he would close out his decade long domination of international shooting when he returned to the scene of his first Olympic triumph at Antwerp and won the 1930 300 Meter Free Rifle World Championship.
Fisher's temperament was one that relished a challenge. Despite his excellencewith the rifle he preferred shooting the pistol because he was, in his own words, "...not so good at it..." However, the perseverance he displayed when he first began to learn how to shoot the rifle paid off when he earned the Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge in 1931. He also worked hard at his violin playing and harbored dreams of being able to "...play the violin half as well as I am supposed to be able to shoot." Had Fisher's dream come to fruition it conjures up the intriguing notion that, while Fisher could be considered the Jascha Heifitz of the rifle, Heifitz might have become known as the Morris Fisher of theviolin.
In 1921, while Fisher was off winning at Lyon, the family of the late Brigadier General Charles H. Lauchheimer USMC presented a trophy to the Marine Corps in his memory. The match conditions required competitors to vie for the trophy with both service pistol and rifle on an annual basis. The winner is, for all intent and purposes, the Marine Corps individual shooting champion. Fisher won this prestigious award in 1931, the same year he became Double Distinguished. He would later be awarded the International Distinguished Shooter's Badge when it was created, making him one of the very first triple Distinguished shooters.
By the close of his active career with the Marines Fisher would find himself living in New York City with his schoolteacher wife and son. Shooting a Winchester 52B with metallic sights he was able to renew his friendship with Paul Landrock, a fellow veteran of the 1924 Olympics, when Landrock would come to New York from his home in New Jersey to shoot in gallery matches. At the time Fisher was employed by J.P. Morgan's bank, in his spare time he practiced violin at home and shot four position gallery matches with the Woodhaven American Legion Auxiliary Rifle Club. He wasn't as interested in smallbore as he was highpower, but he liked shooting and being around shooters. He even managed to keep his hand in pistol shooting with a New York City club. During this time he also found time to coach the Marine Reserve Rifle Team at the National matches.
The Woodhaven club had a range in the basement of an elementary school and it was here he took interest in a youngster who shot with the Legion team. The tall gangly lad, who had just graduated from high school, was eager to improve his shooting and was interested in learning how to shoot the unfamiliar kneeling position. The instruction was not lost on the boy and it provided a curious continuity. Fisher, the kneeling mentor, shot in the last 300 meter Olympic Match fired before World War II and Art Jackson, the student, fired in the first after the war. Jackson would often stand on the three-tiered victory stand as he competed in three Olympics and numerous international and national tournaments.
Jackson remembers Fisher as a hard looking man whose stern visage belied a fine sense of humor. He was both physically and mentally tough yet quite open with his fellow shooters. Fisher was a fine raconteur who enjoyed entertaining all who would listen with tales of his travels and adventures. A versatile man, he was skilled with firearm, violin and pen, writing two books on shooting, Mastering the Rifle and Mastering the Pistol, which were both published in 1940.
After 30 years service Fisher retired from the Marines, in June of 1941, as a Gunnery Sergeant, the second highest enlisted rank in those prewar years. He then went to work as a training officer for the Toledo Ohio Police Department. Three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor he found himself again wearing Marine Green and in charge of the rifle range at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina. He was able to use his vast knowledge of shooting to make recruits, many who had never touched a firearm before, into fearsome riflemen. Fisher was promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer in September of 1943.
His physical strength, even in his early 50s, was still so great that he developed a little parlor trick that he liked to perform for the recruits. Assuming a standing position he would pick an embryonic Marine from the ranks and have the youngster dangle from his arm while he shot round after round into the bull's-eye. Perhaps he selected the most diminutive member of his audience, but it must have been an impressive display nevertheless His life had now come full circle since that day when he had first marched off to small arms training as a recruit.
Tragedy would strike Fisher and his wife toward the end of the war. His only son, William, had joined Fisher's beloved Marines and earned a commission. Young Fisher was part of the Marine amphibious forces that were called upon to drive the Japanese from the island of Okinawa on April 1, 1945. Sadly, he fell in battle during this, the last major campaign in the Pacific Theater. Fisher remained at Parris Island until he retired, for the second time, in 1946.
Warrant Officer Fisher settled in La Jolla, California where he was reported to have been working on a third book. He later relocated to Honolulu, in the then Territory of Hawaii, where he lived quietly. On May 23, 1968 one of the finest rifle shooters in United States shooting history passed away at Tripler Army Hospital. Fisher's remains were returned to the continental United States where he was buried with full military honors. He lays at rest in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California. A little more than three months after the firing party's last volley echoed over Fisher's grave, Gary Anderson, following in his footsteps, captured his second 300 meter Olympic Free Rifle crown at the Mexico City Games.
United States shooters have won more Olympic gold medals than any other sport, except track and field and swimming. In 1991 The United States International Shooters Hall of Fame was established to recognize the accomplishments of the elite shooting athletes of the United States. The first class inducted was four strong. In Olympic history only 13 shooters have won two individual gold medals in the shooting sports. Four of those 13 represented the United States. It was fitting that these were the first inductees: pistol shooter Alfred Lane and riflemen Morris Fisher, Gary Anderson, and Lones Wigger.
In regard to awards and recognition Fisher once said that, "The prizes given winners of rifle matches seem insignificant when compared to the costly trophies awarded in other sports. A good local swimmer might earn more cups and other elaborate prizes in a single season than an expert rifleman could collect in a decade." Like most shooters Fisher realized the most prized trophies are those of the heart. Three generations after he last competed, and 30 years after he died, it is still not uncommon for European shooters to recognize this great United States shooter. By simply describing a shot in the center of the ten ring as a "Fisher Ten" they confer an award more significant than all of the cups ever molded or medals minted.
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Sgt. Morris Fisher with Major General John A. LeJeune, Commandant of the Marine Corps. Fisher is holding a 300 meter target and his target rifle (click photo to enlarge). September 27, 1923.