“There are about three men in the country who could equal Casey and it is doubtful if any of them could beat him.” “This statement was high praise indeed, but particularly so when it was issued from the typewriters of the well credentialed but normally critical rifleman/writer E.C. Crossman in 1908. The man Crossman referred to was the well known Captain K.K.V. Casey, the most outstanding military marksman of the Krag era.”
It was custom a hundred years ago to identify one’s self in print with only one’s initials. In K.K.V.’s case, the tradition spared him a mouthful or a dose of writer’s cramp . Before his career was over over, every rifleman enthusiast on the planet would know who K.K.V. Casey was.
Casey center looking to the right
Almost nothing is known of the man’s early years and Kellog Casey doesn’t make tracks on the paper trial until the end of the Nineteenth Century. Events in Cuba in 1898 had a profound influence on the young Casey’s life. “In a fit of patriotism, we mst suppose, twenty year old Kellogg enlisted in the 71st Regiment of the New York National Guard on May2, 1898, either days after war was declared on the heathen Spaniards.” He was assigned to B Company. Later that month, Private Casey facing a two year enlistment , left for Florida to prepare for his departure for Cuba. The 71st participated in the entire Santiago campaign, and drew Mauser fire on a number of occasions. Elements of the 71st battled their way to the top of San Juan Hill.
It was in Cuba where Kellogg Casey fell in love with the Krag and rifle shooting. Once he was back home the love only deepened and began shooting the Krag rifle in the National Guard competitions. “Lance Corporal Casey was a natural born rifleman, and he made a name for himself at regimental and regional contests.Casey became unusually proficient at long distance shooting Thousand yard marksmanship was his specialty and he picked up the nickname “Long Range Casey.”
In 1901, K.K.V. Casey began winning important matches and attracted an attention at a national level. In 1902, he traveled to Sa Girt, New Jersey and returned with the Wimbledon Cup Prize. The first of thee. That summer, he tried out for the U.S. Palma, and easily made the cut. On September 13,1902, Casey and the rest of the American team made the trip to the Rockcliffe Range near Ottawa, Canada for a try at the Palma.
“A fluky 25mph wind at the 900 yard stage bewildered the Americans, including Casey, but had lesser effect on the Englishmen. The British team won the match by a measly 12 points, but Casey and the rest of the Americans made a good showing”
In 1903 Casey received his commission and he shot the 1903 Palma contest as a lieutenant with the 71st. “The 1903 field at Bisley. England was comprised of the finest rifleman from seven nations. Lieutenant Casey contributed significantly to the American victory that year, and picked up valuable coaching experience in the process.”
All through the century’s first decade, Casey was recognized as the nation’s best long range rifleman. He won every significant long distance match there was. In 1903, he took first place in the National Individual Military Championships, and won the Spencer the following year. In 1905, he won both the Thurston and Hayes Matches. About 1905. Casey went to work for DuPOnt in Washington, DC, Casey was given a position in the firm’s smokeless powder division and eventually was put in charge of smokeless powder production. At the same time he transferred to the Delaware Guard. There he was assigned to the 1st Delaware Infantry.
“Casey became authoritative enough on the subject of smokeless powder that he was invited to submit powder related articles to the period’s sporting magazines. One such, written with unusual eloquence and clarity, was published in Rod and Gun in Canada in 1915. While with DuPont, Casey co authored a book on the construction of rifle ranges, which was distributed by the powder maker in 1909. He also put together a 45 page booklet on smokeless powder for sporting application, and was often called upon to deliver lectures on behalf of the company.”
Casey’s contributions to the improvement of the match ammunition are not well known. He was one of the first to call for the abandonment of the cupro-nickel bullet jacket with its troubles, and for the wide adoption of gilding metal jacket. At Dupont he helped the staff techs in the development of progressive burning smokeless powder. He also pointed out the merits of the boat-tailed bullets for match shooting and was instrumental in converting shooters from the conventional flat based bullet to the more streamlined projectile. Some development work in this field was also attributed to Casey.
Casey was one of the few vocal proponents of reloading( hand loading) during his era. Unlike most of his peers Casey handloaded most of his own match ammo. It was said the he won his reputation with his handloaded ammunition, a marketing point which DuPont was quick to advertise. One source insists that Casey loaded his own to avoid favoring any one cartridge maker as he was an employee of a powder company.
“In 1907, Casey again qualified for the US Palma team, and shot his Krag at the long range matches at Rockcliffe on September7th. The Americans established a new record score for the match. Shooting a possible at 800 yards, Captain Casey once again pulled his weight. “Casey was an Olympian, a member of the rifle team representing the US at 1908 London Games. By 1908 the competition Krag was a thing of the past. The new Springfield was the service rifle required by the Olympic rules. Prior to the games, Captain Casey worked with Springfield Arsenal personnel to select star gauged barrels and assemble the finest rifles possible. He attended the team tryouts held at Camp Perry in June of that years and made the cut for the American squad. The rifle match segment of the games was held at the Bisley Range in July, 1908. Colonel J. Milner, a formidable adversary and member of the original British Palma Team took home the gold medal in the 1.000 yard Individual Competition with a 98×100, fired under nasty wind conditions. Had Casey not shot a 2 early in his string, it would have been a closer match. Captain Casey finished with a 93 for a second place and the Silver Medal. Casey shot a straight military Springfield in an event open to match rifles, which did not fo unnoticed by an army of awed spectators and reporters. Millner used a Mannlicher rifle fitted with a .303 British service barrel and a Blood telescope sight. In addition to Casey’s silver each member of the US six man team picked up the gold medal for beating the rest of the world in the International Rifle Team Match. This was a 90 shot contest which was shot at ranges varying from 200-1,000 yards.”
In 1908, the War Department needed an evaluation from a practical rifleman’s standpoint, of the Warner and Swasey telescopic musket sight which was under consideration for adoption. Of all the service men in all branches of the US Armed forces, Captain Casey was selected to do the test firing at the D.C National Guard Range. ” Casey lay prone, tightened his sling, and pointed pointed the muzzle of and ordinary issue Springfield equipped with the sight at the “C” target 1,760 yards away. He first shot, a richochet three, was followed by a close four. Shot three called for the white disc. Despite a 20 mph wind from five o clock, K.K.V. Casey proceeded to hammer the next seventeen shots into the bullseye. Captain Casey’s shots were the talk of the military rifle shooting crowd for a long time thereafter ”
“1908 was a good year for the peerless long distance rifleman. Captain Casey put his name on the Wimbledon cup for an unprecedented third time and won the coveted Leech Cup”.
“From 1901-1913 K.K.V. Casey dominated long range marksmanship competitions at every possible level. At the 26th Interstate Trournament of the New York and New Jersey State Associations in September. 1919, first Sea Girt gathering since 1915, competitors of the Krag days assembled between relays to exhchange “I remember whens” of the glory days of theSea Girt shooting fame. K.K.V, now reduced to old timer status joined them.”
In 1920 Casey selected Springfield rifles for the Olympic team and three years later he acted as team captain for the American Palma team. During the 1920s he was fixture at Camp Perry and Sea Girt, representing the interests of DuPont. He served as the executive Officer of the Sea Girt Matches throughout the 1920s. During this time, he was also very active in the affairs of the NRA. After 32 years Casey was with DuPont and ultimately worked his way up to Director of Sales while he lived in Fairville, PA with his wife Claudia.
In 1938 Casey developed an infection in his toe from a hangnail. Gangrene set in and amputating the entire right leg didn’t help. He died on October 18, 1938 at age 61 years. One of the finest long range rifleman this country ever produced, a man once called “The best shot to ever face a target”.
Arms and the Man 1908
The Springfield 1903 Rifles Lt. Col. William S Brophy
“In 1938 Casey developed an infection in his toe from a hangnail. Gangrene set in and amputating the entire right leg didn’t help.“
Ouch. If he’d gotten that infection 7 years later he would have gotten penicillin and had a sore toe for a few days. Sad.
Good story, though. Thanks.