The 2000 yard Competitions

In 1865 the NRA(GB) instigated the first of two competitions held at the extreme range of 2000 yards. They were fired with muzzle loading rifles at Gravesend in 1865 and 1866 and were for rifles not exceeding 15lbs. in weight, with any description of sights. Rests, other than mechanical ones, were permitted.

Elcho Shield Anecdotes

In 1861 a challenge published in a Scottish newspaper that Scotland would shoot against England was taken up. The match was limited to Volunteers, in teams of eight, and was fired at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards. To perpetuate the match Lord Elcho, afterwards the Earl of Wemyss (pictured right), who was the first Chairman of the Council of the National Rifle Association, presented the Elcho Shield for annual competition. The first match took place in 1862 during the National Rifle Association Annual Rifle Meeting at Wimbledon, Surrey, in the south of England, with England emerging the winners.

Rival Rifles

Trials were held at Hythe in May 1860 to select a suitable rifle for use in the Queen’s Prize at long range. Mr. Whitworth and a deputation of Birmingham gun makers contested the trials, with the Whitworth rifle being the clear winner. With one exception, the Whitworth rifle continued to be issued to Queen’s Prize finalists until 1871, when for the first time the match was shot throughout with breech-loaders. The notable exception was in 1865, when the Rigby rifle was issued to Queen’s Prize finalists.

The Queen’s Prize

The National Rifle Association was founded in 1859 and held its first annual rifle meeting at Wimbledon in 1860. Queen Victoria fired the inaugural shot at the first rifle meeting on 2 July 1860. The Queen further offered encouragement by founding an annual prize that Volunteers competed for in two stages; originally the first stage was fired at 300, 500 and 600 yards, and the second at 800, 900 and 1000 yards. Prize money was £250.

Rifle Shooting In England

This article provides a brief overview of the progress of the National Rifle Association and rifle shooting in England in 1861, from a US perspective. This was the second year of the NRA’s Annual Rifle Meeting.

The Wimbledon Rifle-Match

Special trains had been running from Waterloo to Wimbledon throughout the ‘rifle-week,’ as fast as passengers accumulated at the station. On Saturday, when the Queen’s Prize was contended for, when what has been called the examination for double-first in rifle-shooting came on, crowds filled the carriages as fast as they could be got ready. We went down in the morning. Volunteers in all shades of uniform, with rifles, and pouches well stored with ammunition, were waiting on the platform, and took the train by assault as soon as it was formed.

Thoughts on The Last Wimbledon Meeting

It must not be forgotten that the National Rifle Association Meeting affords the only meeting-place of friendly competition of Army, Navy, Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers; the only place at which our comrades in arms from the Channel Islands, Canada, Australia, India and other Colonies and possessions can test their progress, and give visible demonstration of their Imperial brotherhood to our home soldiers, our sailors and Volunteers. I look forward to the influence which the proximity of Bisley to Aldershot will have on the shooting of our soldiers and the friendly rivalry between the services as amongst the most important of the advantages we shall gain.


Some readers will no doubt have left something behind at a rifle range on occasion. Following are lists of items found at Wimbledon and Bisley during the National Rifle Association annual rifle meetings. The list are from 1867, 1875, 1887 and 1895.

Wimbledon & the Volunteers

Mention Wimbledon today and tennis will be the sport that springs to mind; in the latter part of the 19th Century however, the foremost sport would have been rifle shooting. From 1860 until 1889 the National Rifle Association (NRA) held their annual rifle meeting on Wimbledon Common, with attendance in the thousands… and that was just the riflemen! So who were these riflemen and what were they doing at Wimbledon?

National Rifle Association

INDEX. Late in 1859 the National Rifle Association (NRA) was fomed and its aims included “the encouragement of Volunteer Rifle Corps and the promotion of rifle shooting throughout Great Britain.”