Russian Marksmanship Card, circa 1945

Here’s a Soviet Marksmanship Card that appears to be from the Second World War era (Great Patriotic War to the Russians). Because it is posted on LiveJournal, which is anti-gun, you must click past an “over 18 warning” to follow the link (it is on an interesting Russian blog); that feature breaks Google Translate, so you have to read Russian to read the blog (or the post).


That’s not as disabling as it might be, because you have to read Russian to read the card. That’s a pity, especially for Mosin-Nagant fans, because the card is densely packed with information on how to use this rifle. We don’t know how widely these were disseminated to Soviet troops (or what was on the back of them — there must have been something?), but a lot of thought and ballistic knowledge went into the card’s creation. The soldier who mastered this card, and better yet memorized much of its contents, would truly be a master of his Mosin-Nagant rifle or carbine.

The card contains 16 numbered items, some of which are tabled together.  Item 1 is a simple ruler along the top edge of the card, which is how we know for sure this was meant as a pocket card and not as a wall poster.

For example, this diagram, which is part of Item 9 on range estimation, comes after a list telling you what you are likely to see near and at distance. It lets you use the rear sight notch as a range finder, given average size Nazis. (The caption says “rifle-rangefinder”). Did you know your 91/30 could do that?


The targets appear to have British helmets, which is not unusual in interwar Soviet manuals, but this document “feels like” it was produced towards the end of the World War, probably in 1945.

Most rifles can be used this way. For instance, the front sight blade of an M16A1 or A2 is the width of a man’s chest (or an E-type silhouette target) at exactly 175 meters. If the manufacturer of your iron-sighted rifle did not provide such a table for you, you can make your own with known distances (or a laser rangefinder) and a man-sized silhouette.

Next let’s estimate lead on running-man targets, and windage in a stiff wind (4 m/sec), at common combat ranges. Soviet marksmanship trainers were quite ambitious, inculcating confidence in the accuracy of the service rifle to 800 meters.


rifle_lead_and_wind_estimationThese calculations are based, of course, in the time of flight of the bullet, and if you noted, we snipped out only part of the table, which comprises Items 2-6 of the card (the image above is the graphic part, minus explanatory text, of Items 4-6. Expanding the image to include the legends and Items 2 and 3 on the left we see that Item 2 is the actual time of flight, in seconds and hundredths of seconds. The open numbers are for the rifle, and the circled numbers for the (presumably, M1944) carbine, which is a convention honored throughout the card.


Item 3 is windage in a 4 m/sec wind, measured in body-widths (figury); part 4 lead on a 3m/sec running man, and part 6 an illustration of what they mean by the windage in Part 3, assuming a 90º crosswind. The text block there tells you to double the windage in double the wind, and halve it in half. (Hey, it’s a card for Army privates, least common denominator).

Item 10 is a penetration table, running from Steel Plate (6mm) to Soft Wood (85 cm) in no particular order. Some items on this list would not be much use to Mosin users in Cuba or Vietnam, like Snow (3.5 meters), but were certainly important to anyone fighting for the soil of Russia itself.


While the Mosin rifle is long obsolete (even Russian honor guards usually carry the successor SKS), modern 7.62 x 54 mm ammunition is remarkably similar in ballistics to this wartime load; only the quality control has changed (it’s better now). It will still take about 1.47 seconds for your round to go 800 meters, and the amount you’ll need to adjust for wind or lead a running target still complies with Newton’s Laws in the same exact way.

Just because something is old, doesn’t mean the men who invented and applied it were primitive. As this illustrates, they probably have a lot to teach us!

36 thoughts on “Russian Marksmanship Card, circa 1945

  1. Sommerbiwak

    Well laid out and packed with useful information. Sadly I cannot read russian only knowing the alphabet, which at least helps with foreign words in russian texts.

    Similar cards should be taped to every rifle stock or issued generally. I would have loved one for my G3 A3 in basic. Especially holdovers for more than 400 m.

    When Ww2 is the Great Patriotic War… What is WW1 called in Russia? imperial war? last tsar war?

    1. Martin

      Well, for Russians, the Great Patriotic War starts only in late June 1941.

      Their history was quite sketchy for a long time since September 1st 1939. I well remember the derivatives of their history depictions we had in the communist Czechoslovakia as pupils. In short, the WW2 started with evil Hitler attacking Poland. Then evil Hitler attacked feeble West which crumbled. Then evil Hitler attacked the peace loving good land of Soviets. Then Japan utterly destroyed Americans in Pearl Harbor. Then Soviets kicked evil Hitler’s ass and saved the world. And nasty imperialists then atomic-bombed Japan even though it was already beaten by Soviets.

      Okay, I’m a bit stretching here, but that was it. No word of Russian dagger in the back of Poland on September 17th. No real mentioning of Winter war, and invasions of Baltic. Battle of Britain maybe a single line. War in Pacific being a sidestory shrunk mostly to evil atomic bombing and as a related topic, mentioning good comrade Mao in China. Lend lease made too little to really contribute. Overlord too late, basically a “me too” action. Of course, this was history for older children and teens, but I still have the textbook. :-)

      I guess the Russian version must have been similar…

  2. DSM

    That’s a great training aid. I know a few speakers of the Russian language that I could get a translation of this but aren’t there some native speakers that frequent the blog? Some of the language may be technical.

    Is that the mil relation formula for rangefinding in item #8?

  3. James

    Nice little bit of info.,am going to bookmark/print for friends who have Mosin Nagants.Anything on the card that might give us # of Mosins needed for short term flight capability?


    I started making something like this for using the M16A2/A4 &M4 a while ago. I have it all in an un-organized manner still in a folder. I had a lot of stuff like that. ( all for iron sights) But I never could figure out what to cull down enough to fit onto a handy index card. I found myself not wanting to give anything up. So many damn handy bits of knowledge that I just could not decide what to narrow it down to.

    I may take another swing at it.

    1. Matt in IL

      If you don’t mind, please share when available? Or perhaps sharing your current material and the beyond capable commenters here may have some useful insight?

  5. Pingback: Are you a Mosin-Nagant Owner/Fan? You’re gonna love this. | Ordnancecorner's Weblog

  6. TRX

    I need to make something like that for my 45-70. And here I thought the little notebook with the drop tables was enough…

    When you shoot the .45-70, knowing your drop tables is not optional.

  7. 6pounder

    Very interesting— I really want one, in American. Hognose could you use your resources to reprint this in plain American language that we the readers could print out, or download and then print? A lot of folks around here, including myself, laid in some Mosins while they were cheap. They are referred to as refugee rifles. One of these for each rifle would be wonderful. Possible?

    1. Quill_&_Blade

      I’m in a bit of a hurry, so I’m not able to read this post closely; it appears that a lot of the text is not translated? I’ve had decent results with Google Chrome translation, even better with Yandex (Big Russian Search Engine). I have a Cyrillic keyboard, I could type out the words, then try putting them through the translation software. But it will probably be a couple weeks before I could do that.
      I’m always concerned about copyright issues, but this card is probably safely beyond that, it’s not unreasonable to also try and raster>vector trace the graphics, then node edit to clean the results up. That would yield a file that can be used by -anybody- printers, web masters, sign people, etc. Also, since it wouldn’t be raster (jpg, bmp, png, etc.) any language of words could be put in. Interesting project.

      1. TRX

        Quill, I’d gladly wait for a translation. I’ve been waiting for such information for years and didn’t even know it…

        The printable graphics stuff would be nice, but if it comes down to it I can put White-Out over a printed copy of the Russian card and scrawl the translated text over it.

        I’m pretty sure there are no copyright issues on something that old.

    2. Aesop

      I twelfth or thirteenth that sentiment.
      So, after you hit your target weight, and get the RV flying, and 27 other things, maybe you could get cracking on that…

      Actually, I was thinking you could put it at the top of the page as an Offishul WeaponsMan Project, and crowdsource the translation/English transmogrification effort.
      Then we can have SMEs replicate it for another eleventy modern battle rifles, for the good of humanity.
      Then will come the Google-translate-friendly re-formats for 40-80 other languages.
      Starting at, say, the late 19th century Mauser, and working forward in time to the M4gery would be about right. By the time that’s done, you’ll probably need one for phased plasma rifles in the 40MW range…

      But it is right in the 11B wheelhouse, right?

  8. Nada

    Mr. Hognose, just wondering how many blogs/websites you dig through every day to find all this cool obscure stuff for us to enjoy?

    1. Hognose Post author

      To my surprise, no one on that Mosin forum had anything substantive to add. Pity. Some of them must have seen these cards before.

  9. Quill_&_Blade

    Update: Initially, this may be a bit boring, but after I explain a few things, the mucho blah-blah will be over, and I’ll just post the graphics progress. In the world of computer graphics, there is a big division ( at least in flat 2-D graphics) one side being raster images, and the other side being vector graphics. Most of what you’ve ever seen was raster images. That’s your typical .jpg, .bmp, .png, etc. These are composed of a bunch of pixels, or “dots”. If I save a simple black curved line on a white background, as a raster image, it will only look good at a certain resolution. Enlarge it, and the edges of the smooth black line get “jaggy”, as the pixels get bigger.
    A vector file is very different. I believe it was first developed by the HP guys, that’s why the first vector language was called HPGL1. Imagine an invisible grid that the computer sees, but you don’t. Something like 400 units per inch. Now back to our curved black line on a white background. If drawn and saved as a vector file, each part of the curve is recorded as intersecting a different part of the grid. Sort of like that game I played as a kid, “Battleship”. Your ship might be on G4, or D9. Anyway, when you tell the computer to enlarge the file, it calculates the grid larger, and the curved black line gets proportionately bigger. The really big deal here is that the edges of the curve stay smooth, regardless of size (think billboard…seriously). Not only that, but you can first enlarge the vector to the right size, then export it as a raster, with perfectly crisp graphics of the reslution you choose. (300 DPI at 8 feet wide? No problemo, provided you have the hardware-o. Tends to be a bit much for the average laptop).
    The vector file can be used by anybody working on a web site, using an engraving machine, printing business cards, you name it. After I get the running guys done, I’ll do the rifle, and have a little fun with it. This first image is an enlarged picture of how it looks to me when I’m editing the vector graphic over the raster image.There is another trick I might be able to do for making the original image a little less jaggy; but I haven’t tried it yet. So I’m stuck with this low quality. The yellow represents the vector (it’s easier to show all this as a raster). You can see why I say it’s a matter of opinion as to where the line should actually go. Certainly, it doesn’t matter as much when the graphics are 10mm high, but wait till you see what I do with the rifle, then you’ll know why I like it to be precise. Not only that, I want to get it right the first time, and not have to look back.
    So I reiterate: your opinion matters, if people think what I’ve done looks a little ‘off’ or ‘funny’, say it. The second picture is recent progress. I took the solid black running guy, put and inline inside him, then trimmed out the rest, resulting in the outline form needed. Two things are interesting; one is that the figures are varied in shape. Notice how part of him lines up, and part doesn’t. I intend to just repeat the same outline figure over and over, so in that way, this project will be a little off from the original. That might be low brow, so if anyone feels strongly about having it exact, let me know. The other interesting thing is that in two of the lines, the end guy has no shading.

    1. Hognose Post author

      1. the dot is the aim point. As you can see, there’s only one per line of running guys.
      2. The original ones were almost certainly drawn freehand.
      3. The original is very low-rez, but it seems to me that the little guy’s rifle is pretty skinny, and it has a jag at the top that represents his Mosin bayonet.
      4. I used to draw stuff like this in Adobe Illustrator, long ago. Before there was a scan to vector tool in it there was a separate program they hit me another $100 for. Streamline? Ages ago.

      1. Quill_&_Blade

        Thanks. Yeah, streamline had a good reputation. The newest software I’ve used is Corel 14. I like Corel products, but even at that late time, there was still a bit of struggle for accuracy with the trace feature. I wondered about the shape of the rifle myself. Some of them look like they’re holding a pistol. Will work on it this evening.

    1. Quill_&_Blade

      Been working more on this. I made the shading lines thicker on the above running guy, and jagged the bayonet down instead of up. It looks up on the chart to me, but that must be a reproduction glitch. Also a lot of progress on the big rifle drawing. Not enough time tonight to transfer them over from the art computer.

  10. Quill_&_Blade

    Here’s the rifle drawing; at least what it looks like to me. I went online to see images, and the Mosin rifles I saw were a little different; for example, the magazine slanted upwards more. But this is drawn directly over the raster image, so it’s pretty close. Well, partially drawn, partially traced with the raster>vector feature. I experimented first, with some old tricks. One being to blur the edges of the raster, then sharpen it, before using the trace feature. I also tried posterizing the raster. Nothing really helped. The trace result was so rough that I should have started from scratch. Oh well, it’s done now, (save for adjustments).
    There is one problem I’m running into; my Cyrillic keyboard doesn’t have all the characters used on the chart. I read somewhere that the Russians use different letters for their cursive, this may be something like that. I’ll figure it out.

  11. Quill_&_Blade

    Making a vector file takes some time, but once you have it, it’s very versatile and easy to work with. Here the top row of running guys was done in about 15 minutes.

  12. Quill_&_Blade

    I saw the comment above by TRX, and thought ‘Wait a minute, a translation of the writing could be used sooner than a complete graphics overhaul.’ So I started in on that…a little. I first used my Cyrillic keyboard and typed out a few of the words in Russian, in an Open Office (free office software) document. Then I copied the words a few at a time, and pasted then into the Yandex translator. All it did was give me an English phonic version of the Russian words. Kind of strange, so I tried the same thing with Google Translate, same results. I noticed that the Google Translate had a little drop down Cyrillic keyboard to type in the words, and I tried it.
    Bingo! Results… better than before anyway. So here’s what I have so far: In the big middle rectangle, there’s what appears to be a trajectory chart. Above to the right (inside the box) and above to the left, there are words.
    Стпелковая ленейка > shooting range -or- rifle lineup
    полковнюцк опарцн р.п. > Colonel Opartsn RP
    Upper left:
    Винтоика > Rifle
    и карабин > and carabiner
    I’ll see if I can make another row of running guys tonight.

    1. Quill_&_Blade

      Wait, just for clarity: In my comment above, where I have the Russian words for the upper left; I misspelled the first word, it actually says “Винтовка”, the translation is correct though.
      The word is pronounced something like Veentovka.

  13. Quill_&_Blade

    Rats, one more error: where I have Colonel written in Russian, it should read: “Полковнцк”. Not sure if it’s a typo, or a software issue; I’ll try to be more careful. Again, the translation is the same.

  14. Quill_&_Blade

    Took a little sidetrack tonight, made a sign from the rifle file. This file can also be used for engraving machines, plasma cutters, and a lot of other projects. I had this idea that when the whole chart is finished, it could be made into a glossy poster or framed piece. People could order it from an online company, with an account where the proceeds go to a charitable cause or worthy young person.

  15. Quill_&_Blade

    Went to the in-laws’ place for several days. No internet, so I couldn’t do any translation when things got slow; but I did get some graphics done. The windage guys need the dots added, but I’ll get to that, along with the other materials diagrams.

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