Creedmoor, History of the Range

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Source: Forest & Stream, New York, USA – Thursday, 16 October 1873

THERE has just been completed at Creedmoor the first annual Prize Meeting of the National Rifle Association, twelve competitions having taken place, the full and correct statements of which will he found at the conclusion of this article. Though Creedmoor mayhe now well known to our National Guard and riflemen in the city and vicinity, still a thorough description of the same, its plan of organization, and the object to be obtained by having such a range for rifle practice in our midst, with full details of methods of shooting, &c., may be of interest to many outside of the city, and may help to develop more thoroughly a taste for rifle shooting in the United States.

The initial movement for the organization of a National Rifle Association dates from November 24th, 1871, when a Board of Directors were elected with the following officers: President, A. E. Burnside; Vice-President, Col. Wm. C. Church; Secretary, Capt. G. W. Wingate; Corresponding Secretary, F. M. Peck; Treasurer, J. B. Woodward. This same organization held office until July 22d, 1872, when General Burnside having resigned, Colonel Church was elected president, with General Alex. Shaler as vice-president. Now the real labors of the Association commenced, such as the choice of a proper sight for a range and the details necessary to get members of the National Guard to take an interest in what to them was a novel enterprise. It was soon evident that the high price of land within any available distance of New York, would render any purchase impossible without State assistance. A bill was introduced into the Legislature, which was passed in May 1872, which provided that whenever the Association should raise $5,000 the State would contribute $25,000 for the purpose of purchasing and fitting up such a range, the State also agreeing to provide division and State prizes for skillful markmanship. To this amount was added $5,000 from the Supervisors of New York and Brooklyn, with $5,000 more from the Supervisors of New York.

The work of selecting the grounds of a sufficient extent for a range, which should be at once reasonable as to price of land, safe and convenient of access, was a difficult task. Finally a most wise purchase was made of a tract of seventy acres, situated on the Central Railroad of Long Island. This land was bought of Mr. J. Creed for $26,250, and named Creedmoor. These grounds are admirably adapted for the purpose for which they have been selected. As level as a billiard table, they afford room for twenty separate ranges, each of which can be used from one hundred to a thousand yards and without the use of elevated firing-stands, found necessary upon most European ranges. There was only one slight objection to the range, and that was that it would become necessary to build an embankment of twenty feet high and five hundred and seventy feet long, to place back of the buts, which would require some 27,000 cubic yards of earth. The Association very wisely sent Messrs. Rockafellar, Wingate, and Church to Wimbledon and Hythe, who made a thorough inspection of the rifle practice as carried on there, and who selected all the latest improvements.

Creedmoor, 1873
A general view of the range at the time of the inaugural rifle match
(The Daily Graphic (New York), 21 June 1873)