The training of infantry reservists

This page describes the training of men of Sections B and D of the Army Reserve. These were soldiers of the regular army who had completed the full-time part of their engagement and who were now serving their reserve commitment. In the case of soldiers of Section D they had elected to extend this commitment.

The information shown is from the 1913 “Instructions for the training of the Army Reserve (Infantry)”, which was included with the 1913 Army Orders. It applies to men serving with the regiments of the Foot Guards and the Infantry of the Line. A copy of this can be consulted at the National Archives, piece reference WO123/55.

Imperial War Museum image Q52552. Snap shooting instruction with a Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifle at the British Army School of Musketry in Hythe, Kent, on 21 January 1915. Not quite the right period for this article but an interesting illustration of one aspect of rifle training.


  • Men originally enlisted for three years’ colour service and who had not extended their service were to train in the 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th years of their original engagement;
  • Men originally enlisted for more than three years’ colour service were to train only in the 10th year of their original engagement, unless they had served nine years’ colour service in which case they would train in their 11th year;
  • Unless they had already completed twelve years’ colour service, men of Section D would train in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd years of their Section D engagement. A man who had completed twelve years would only train in his 3rd year;
  • If a man failed to train in the year specified he would train in the next year.
  • Any man mobilised by the army or who were employed by the Metropolitan, City, Borough or County Police, Royal Irish Constabulary, the Post Office, as prison warders or civil guards in convict prisons, or who had been given leave of absence from the United Kingdom, were exempted from training for that year.
  • A “Notice to Train” would be sent to each reservist with his March reservist pay. A reminder was sent to any reservist who had not acknowledged by 15 September. Once a date and a range on which is training would be carried out was arranged the man would be sent an “Order for Training” together with a railway or passage warrant for him to get there if he lived more than five miles distant.

The training

The man’s training required him to carry out two half-hour musketry drills and of firing five drills (below) on one day between 1 April and 31 October on a range available up to 500 yards for the Short Magazine Lee Enfield .303 inch rifle with a full charge.

Class of target Yards Rounds Instructions
2nd class figure 200 5 Lying
2nd class figure 200 5 Kneeling. Taking cover behind stones or sandbags representing a parapet and firing over them, with wrist or rifle rested.
2nd class figure 300 5 Lying
1st class figure 500 5 Lying
1st class figure 500 5 Lying. Taking cover behind stones or sandbagsrepresenting a parapet and firing over them, with wrist or rifle rested.
Two rounds practice will be allowed at each distance
All practices are to be fired slow
  • A reservist who gained 25 points in the first two practices and an aggregate total of 50 was considered qualified.
  • A reservist who gained 25 points in the first two practices but not an aggregate total of 50 would have to fire the course again in the same year.
  • A reservist who failed to gain 25 points in the first two practices would not proceed to the last three practices and would have to fire the course again in the same year.
  • Cases of failure to qualify which in the opinion of the officer or non-commissioned officer conducting the practice was due to abnormal weather would be referred to the officer in charge of the range, who would decide whether the reservist had qualified or not.

In the case of a man who had left the colours qualified as a 1st Class machine gunner, he would instead carry out six machine gun drills each of 30 minutes duration. Two would include instruction and practice in section drill without transport, concluding with tests of elementary training but excluding rectifying gun stoppages; three would include instruction and practice in “immediate action”, including tests of rectifying gun stoppages; and one to test mounting the gun and coming into action on various natures of ground and in various positions. The gunner would be provided with a part-worn suit of canvas clothing.

Any reservist who failed to complete the training in any year would be required to do it in the following year. They would also forfeit reserve pay for up to 92 days.

Pay and allowances

For his day’s training the reservist would be paid the following, including any second days or when he was retained:

  • one day of normal regimental pay;
  • one day of any good conduct pay, proficiency pay or service pay to which he was entitled;
  • his normal reserve pay;
  • sixpence ration allowance;
  • threepence messing allowance;
  • no kit allowance.
  • If it was not possible for a man to join, complete his training and return home in one day he would be paid and issued with allowances for two.

If he failed to attend on the date selected by him, or used his railway warrant and arrived on a day when it was not possible for him to be trained, or that he proved to be incapable (other than though ill-health) of undertaking his training he would be dismissed home without pay and be required to attend on a future day at his own expense.