PERFORMED BY TWO LITTLE GIRLS.
The only twin expert rifle shots in the world are Misses Edith and Ethel Long of this city. Although only twelve years of age these precocious young girls can perform all the best tricks of the most skillful adult professionals.
They shoot together at the most difficult of targets and seldom miss. Here are some of the feats they can perform with ease: Shooting with back to target by means of a mirror, cutting of the stem of a clay pipe bit by bit down to the bowl, knocking the ashes off a cigar, lighting ordinary parlor matches, cutting in two a visiting card placed with edge toward the shooter, and plowing a furrow with the bullet along the edge of the card.
The Misses Long are members of the Lafayette club, and despite their youth are considered as being among its best shots. Their extraordinary skill has attracted widespread attention and they have received numerous offers to appear in public, but being the strictest of amateurs none of these offers has ever been considered.
The youthful dead shots owe their proficiency to their father, John E. Long, himself conceded to be one of the most clever riflemen in the country. It was he who trained them and initiated them into all the mysteries Df sighting, making allowances for wind, and all the other details so necessary to the education of the crack shot.
Mr. Long has a genius for teaching this difficult art. It was he who trained Sonia Wright, the young Western woman whose achievements with the rifle have attracted such general attention, and who is now conceded to be Annie Oakley's only rival for the feminine premiership of the rifle world.
Mr. Long is an engineer in the local water works. He has never taken part in any contest for money and only shoots for the diversion of himself and his friends. Discussing the skill of his daughters and the methods of training from which it resulted he said:
"They ought to be good shots if there is anything in heredity, for they come of a race of marksmen. We are descended from a race of backwoods men who were among the earliest settlers in the west, and their skill with the shotgun and rifle has descended from generation to generation, with out a miss.
"My father, now a man of almost 75, can hit a cap box lid twenty paces away with a regularity which becomes monotonous, and I personally can perform almost any shot known to the profession.
"The girls have thus been raised in an atmosphere of powder and have always from their earliest childhood been anxious to try their skill. While thoroughly intending to train them eventually the fear of some accident caused me to defer the commencement as long as possible.
"I began with Edith and Ethel six months ago and was utterly surprised at the rapid progress they made. Neither had ever had a rifle in her hands before, and almost from the first they sent the bullets crashing through the dead center of the bull's eye.
"First I placed the target at ten yards, and then, when this distance bad been mastered, gradually extended it, until today they can hit-the black center at one hundred yards.
"They use the rifles made especially for them, and the fact that these are only twenty-two calibre makes the feats the girls perform all the more difficult; a deviation of one-tenth of an inch is sufficient to make a clean miss.
"Five weeks after the first lesson, before they had fired 200 rounds of ammunition, the girls could perform many feats deemed difficult, even by professionals. They could break one inch discs held between my thum[b] and first finger and could smash glass balls with the rifle held in five different positions, one of these being with the back to the target.
"I attribute their wonderful success to naturally true eyes and steady hands. They seemed to handle the rifle by instinct. I scarcely had to tell them how to hold it; it seemed to fall as easily and naturally into the correct position as if they had been shooting for years.
"As soon as they had achieved proficiency with the rifle, and had advanced so far as to be able to hit the target ten times out of ten, each of of the girls became ambitious to use a shotgun.
"My shotgun is so heavy that it was as much as either Ethel or Edith could do to shoulder it, and yet, in several trials, they did very well, averaging only about six misses out of every twenty-five shots. I am having shotguns adapted to their size especially made for them and expect some brilliant performances in this direction when the girls become accustomed to the new firearms.
"I am, of course, very proud of my daughters' skill and am teaching them with the greatest care. I consider rifle practice an excellent sport for women. It steadies their nerves, teaches them self-control and develops the eye. I take great pleasure in imparting my knowledge of firearms to anyone desiring to learn, but especially the younger generation.
"I have trained many pupils and have been singularly fortunate in never having an accident of any kind. I teach all novices to consider a fire-arm as being always loaded, and in this way habits of care and caution are developed, which becomes second nature.
"Edith and Ethel are now training to enter some of the coming shoots of the Lafayette Gun Club, of which they are members, and I am very hopeful that they will add some of the prizes to our collection of sporting trophies."
[The Philipsburg Mail, Philipsburg, Granite County, Montana, Friday, December 14, 1900. Vol. XIV. No. 47. Pg. 7]