Copyright 2015 © Gilbert Jesus. All rights reserved.
The point being that Oswald would have had to have experience in "sighting in" a scoped rifle. There's simply no evidence to suggest that Oswald had the skills to do that. Zahm's own testimony indicated that in order to sight in a rifle, one would have to have fired at least 10 rounds through it:
Mr. SPECTER. How many shots in your opinion would a man like Oswald have to take in order to be able to operate a rifle with a four-power scope, based on the training he had received in the Marine Corps?
Sergeant ZAHM. Based on that training, his basic knowledge in sight manipulation and trigger squeeze and what not, I would say that he would be capable of sighting that rifle in well, firing it, with 10 rounds.
( 11 H 308 )
In other words, for Oswald to have carried the rifle into the TSBD in pieces, he would have had to have fired ten rounds through it prior to firing at the President.
There's no evidence that Oswald fired 10 rounds through the Depository rifle on November 22, 1963.
In addition to these facts, there's no evidence that Zahm had any experience with ANY Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, let alone the alleged murder weapon. The one time he was asked a question by counsel specifically about the Mannlicher-Carcano, counsel rephrased the question:
Mr. SPECTER. How much familiarity would a man with Oswald's qualifications, obtained in the Marine Corps, require in order to operate a rifle with a scope such as a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle with a four-power scope?
Sergeant ZAHM. How much familiarity would he require?
Mr. SPECTER. Let me rephrase the question. Would it be very difficult for a man with Oswald's capabilities as a marksman to use a rifle with a four-power scope?
( ibid. )
So we see that counsel was careful not to seek out information from Zahm with respect to the Mannlicher-Carcano specifically, but rephrased the question to aim it at "a rifle" instead.
Zahm had no business testifying about Oswald's ability or about the alleged murder weapon. He had no first hand knowledge of Oswald's ability, he had no first hand knowledge whether the test scores were accurate, he had no experience with the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle and his expertise was with long range shooting from 600-1,000 yards using a 12 to 20-power scope.
One good point his testimony brings out however, is that if the rifle was brought into the building "broken down", the shooter had to have fired 10 rounds through it in order to scope it in.
Unless, of course, this rifle had a "Magic Scope".
An Easy Shot ?
The Testimony of Sgt. James A Zahm
In order to show that a shot from the Texas School Book Depository was an "easy shot", the Commission called as an expert witness, Sgt. James A Zahm, a Marine Corps NCO who was in charge of the the Marksmanship Training Unit at the Weapons Training Battalion Marine Corps School, Quantico, Va.. Sgt. Zahm was the non-commissioned officer in charge of the long-range team. This consisted of about 40 members of the Marine Corps Rifle and Pistol Team, and he was responsible of the training, providing weapons, and hand loading the ammunition for practice and eventual firing at 600 and 1,000 yards.
( 11 H 306-307 )
Zahm went on to talk about his experience with rifle scopes:
" the higher powered telescopes are used in the particular type of firing we are doing right now, deliberate slow fire at extreme ranges of 600 and 1,000 yards. We use 12-power to 20-power telescopes." ( ibid.)
So here's the Commission's expert witness on rifle scopes, an NCO in charge of a Marine Corps "long range team" that fired at targets from "600 and 1,000 yards" using "12-power to 20-power telescopes".
And this is the guy whose going to give testimony saying that an 85 yard shot with a 4-power scope is an easy shot ?
But that's exactly what he did.
Mr. SPECTER. How would you characterize that, as a difficult, not too difficult, easy, or how would you characterize that shot?
Sergeant ZAHM. With the equipment he had and with his ability, I consider it a very easy shot.
( 11 H 309 )
Let's look at this statement, "with the equipment he had and with his ability".
First, "the equipment he had" :
There's no evidence that Sgt. Zahm ever fired the Depository rifle and could not have possibly known the condition of the rifle prior to the assassination. Therefore, his "expert" testimony regarding "the equipment he had" is nothing more than an opinion devoid of any first hand knowledge and thus any factual basis.
Next, "his ability"
There's no evidence that Sgt. Zahm was present during either of Oswald's two rifle qualifications and thus he could not have had first hand knowledge of Oswald's ability with a rifle. Because of this, one can assume that Sgt. Zahm was also not present when Oswald's scores were tallied and had no first hand knowledge of whether or not the scores accurately depicted what Oswald shot.
Sgt. Zahm admitted under testimony that his evaluation of Oswald's ability was based solely on the documents he saw:
Mr. SPECTER. Have you had an opportunity to examine the documents identified as Commission Exhibit No. 239 and Exhibit No. I to Major Anderson's deposition, Sergeant Zahm?
Sergeant ZAHM. Yes; I have.
Mr. SPECTER. Based on the tests of Mr. Oswald shown by those documents, how would you characterize his ability as a marksman?
Sergeant ZAHM. I would say in the Marine Corps he is a good shot, slightly above average, and as compared to the average male of his age throughout the civilian, throughout the United States, that he is an excellent shot.
( 11 H 308 )
But when Zahm is faced with whether or not Oswald could have aimed at and hit Kennedy in the head, he backpedals:
"....I think that aiming at the mass of what portion of the President is visible at that distance and with his equipment, he would very easily have attained a hit, not necessarily aiming and hitting in the head. This would have been a little more difficult and probably be to the top of his ability, aiming and striking the President in the head. But assuming that he aimed at the mass to the center portion of the President's body, he would have hit him very definitely someplace, and the fact that he hit him in the head, but he could have hit, got a hit.
Mr. SPECTER. So you would have expected a man of Oswald's capabilities at a distance of 265.3 feet to strike the President someplace aiming at him under those circumstances?
Sergeant ZAHM. Yes.
( 11 H 309 )
So the "easy shot" wasn't so easy after all. In fact, the only easy part about it was that a rifleman with Oswald's capabilities, using a four power scope, could have hit the President "someplace" and that a head shot from that distance would have been " a little more difficult ".
The reader should keep in mind that Oswald's qualifications with a rifle in the Marine Corps was with a .30 caliber rifle with no scope.