Amateur Rifle Club Gold Badge

You are hereHome > Marksmanship > The Creedmoor Era

Written by: David Minshall

On 12 July 1873, the Amateur Rifle Club of New York held at Creedmoor their first contest for the Club’s Gold Badge. The distance was 500 yards, with 8 rounds to be fired, one being a sighting shot, not to count. Each man was permitted to fire from any position he pleased, but could not use an artificial rest. Shooting was with any rifle not over ten pounds in weight; the trigger not less than three pounds test pull. Telescope sights were excluded. The match was planned to be fired monthly, with the gold badge being held by each winner from match to match. Once won by someone three times, then the badge would belong to them forever.

The first match was won by John Bodine using a Gibbs-Metford muzzle loading rifle. Bodine went on to win the second match on 9 August, this time using a Remington sporting rifle. The third match (13 September) found a new winner, J.P.M. Richards shooting with a Sharps sporting rifle. For the fourth match (1 November), Robert Omand won the first prize, using the Remington sporting rifle. A week later (8 November) saw J.P.M. Richards secure his second win. This concluded events for 1873 and left Bodine and Richards, each with two wins, vying for one more win to secure possession of the gold badge.

Competition for the badge did not resume until 16 May 1874, when both the sixth and seventh matches were fired at Creedmoor. By this time the Amateur Rifle Club had famously accepted, on behalf of the riflemen of America, the challenge from Irish riflemen for a long range rifle competition to be fired at Creedmoor later that year.

John Bodine

There were few on Creedmoor range on 16 May, the threatening weather suggesting the match may be postponed. However, by the time the fifteen contestants had assembled it had entirely ceased to rain, and the wind had died away almost to a dead calm. The first match of the day was won by J.S. Conlin, scoring seven bull’s-eyes in succession with his Sharps sporting rifle. His possession of the winner’s badge was though fleeting. In the second match, later that day, John Bodine also made seven bull’s-eyes in succession, winning the match and consequently becoming the owner of the badge.

The New York Times (17 May 1874) reported this shooting by Conlin and Bodine as “the best shooting ever made at Creedmoor in a formal match.”  They further observed that “if the same improvement is shown by all, the celebrated Irish team will have hard work to maintain their laurels in the coming contest at Creedmoor.” Words that John Bodine would prove prophetic!