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Cycling the Bolt, and the Master Eye: by Bill McLeod

03/01/2023 7:40 AM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)

My father was an instructing officer during World War Two attached to the Fiji Infantry Regiment. He had been trained in bush and mountain warfare at the school run by Major Yerex, the bloke who supervised deer culling operations for the government. When my dad introduced me to shooting, he saw that while I was left handed, I was right eye dominant. He taught me to shoot from my right shoulder thus taking advantage of my eye dominance. I didn’t realize the significance of this till years later when I read an article by an Olympic coach discussing eye dominance issues. He discussed several options but advised that, if possible, get the student to sight with the dominant eye. My dad had been spot on right from the beginning. 

Another lesson he gave me was how to cycle a bolt action rifle correctly. He passed on the oft repeated tale of how the British army got so proficient with the Lee Enfield rifle that the opposing forces all thought that they were armed with machine guns. I recalled this early instruction last weekend when my cousin, a very experienced shooter, said his rifle would occasionally jam when he cycled the bolt. He demonstrated and sure enough he could get the bolt to stick. I noticed that he used the palm of his hand to operate the bolt.  Recalled my fathers teaching. Fold your index finger right over. You will notice that the three joints of your finger will form a pocket in the middle. Put the knob of the bolt in this pocket then trap the knob with the ball of your thumb. Keep the bolt knob trapped while completing the operating cycle. My cousin was using the same rifle as I was, a Remington Model 7. Mine didn’t jam. Didn’t affect the performance on deer though . My two nephews, my cousin and I had four deer for four shots. I realize that some shooters will have different styles of operating bolts, I’m happy with the method promoted by a large army.

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