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Written by: David Minshall

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.

There’s a lot of knee-pads identified in the 1867 list! For Volunteer competitions shooting at the time was from the standing position at 200 yards, and at 500 and 600 yards in the kneeling or standing position. Distances over 600 yards were from ‘any position’. In 1871 this changed, and ‘any position’ was permitted at distances beyond 200 yards. The kneeling position was thus for practical purposes discontinued. Several ‘firing-beds’ and waterproof sheets were found in 1875, likely for shooting from the prone position.

There are several references in the 1867 list to Belgian articles (including a rifle!). In October 1866 1100 Volunteers from many Corps attended the Tir National in Brussels, Belgium. Following this, arrangements were made for inviting the Belgians to England. Although not involved with organising the original visit, the National Rifle Association offered the hospitality of Wimbledon to the Belgians on their return visit. In 1867 some 2400 Belgian Gardes Civiques visited Wimbledon.

By the 1880s breech loaders had largely replaced muzzle loading rifles. In 1883 cleaning out between shots was prohibited. Black powder was still in use at the time, and there remained the issue of fouling control. The practice of blowing down the barrel was developed, such that the moisture from the breath would soften the fouling. This was usually carried out by a tube inserted in the breech, and a number of these ‘blow pipes’ appear on lists of lost items from the mid-1880s. Verniers and ventometers also start appearing in the later period, these handy instruments were used to assist setting elevation and wind allowance on sights.

Volunteer Service Gazette

Saturday 3 August 1867

Official Notices of the
National Rifle Association.

List Of Articles Found During The Meeting At Wimbledon.

Register No.

5. A cartridge tester (broken).
12. A leather stock protector.
13. A leather knee-pad.
16. A brown leather knee-pad.
22. A nipple-wrench.
25. A sight-protector.
26. A rifle-stopper.
27. A brown leather knee-pad.
28. A cleaning-rod and gag.
32. A leather knee-pad.
33. A white quilted sun shade.
36. A cleaning-rod and gag.
37. A black waterproof bag, containing a leather kneepad.
37. A leather lock protector, a nipple-wrench, and a white pocketkerchief, marked 1865, Arthur, No. 7.
38. A cleaning-rod and gag.
41. A leather knee-pad.
42. A leather knee-pad, marked “Lee, 5th Company, Dorset V.R.”
43. A cleaning-rod and gag.
52. A black leather knee-pad.
55. A brown ditto ditto.
56. A black ditto ditto.
69. Ditto, ditto.
62. A cleaning-rod and gag.
63. Ditto ditto.
64. A cleaning-rod.
70. A sight-protector.
73. A cleaning-rod and gag.
80. Ditto ditto.
83. A leather knee-pad.
89. A cleaning-rod and gag.
93. Ditto ditto.
109. A walking-stick.
116. A leather knee-pad, check lining.
117. rifle-cock.
123. A cleaning-rod (broken).
132. A white plume.
134. A brown rifle-cover (very old).
136. A cleaning-rod and gag.
138. A sight-regulator.
139. A telescope lens.
141. A long Enfield rifle.
142. A black brooch set with glass.
143. A brown canvas sheet.
145. A bayonet, No. A 532. “Belgian.”
146. A cleaning-rod and gag.
149. A black waterproof coat (very old).
154. A brown alpaca umbrella.
166. A brown leather knee-pad (stitched).
169. A leather knee-pad.
172. A yellow stripe cloth rifle-cover.
173. A black and grey stripe ditto ditto.
174. A brown ditto ditto.
184. A cleaning-rod and gag.
187. A black leather knee-pad.
196. A green baize firing bed and two leather straps.
198. A brown leather knee-pad.
199. A Belgian uniform belt and bayonet, marked 8941. Belt marked D 3118.
204. A sight-protector.
205. A Belgian rifle and cleaning-rod with sling, marked H 1907.
207. Belgian cleaning-rod.
215. A grey cloth rifle-cover.
216. A briar-root tobacco pipe.
219. A white pocketkerchief (marked T. G. M. 24.).
220. A leather knee-pad.
221. A bayonet marked V 3 K III.
222. A walking-stick.
223. A brown alpaca umbrella.
224. A cream colour waterproof-coat, in black leather case.
225. A sword, ivory handle (broken), field officers.
226. A black waterproof rifle-cover.
227. A black cloth rifle-cover.
228. A grey ditto ditto.
229. A coloured ditto ditto (very old).
230. white cap-cover.
231. A black leather knee-pad.
232. A brown ditto ditto.
233. A black ditto ditto.
234. Ditto ditto.
235. A black waterproof overcoat.
236. Four packets of ammunition.
237. A long Enfield rifle, cleaning-rod, and knee-cap, marked J. W. Aldridge, 4th Ex.
238. A cap-pouch, containing a member’s pass-card, and papers for Samuel Rusby, Leeds Rifles.
239. A plaid rifle-cover.
240. An oak telescope-stand.
241. A waistbelt and bayonet-scabbard, 68th Durham Light Infantry.
242. A Belgian loading-rod.
243. A Belgian rifle, packed in wooden case, left in Exhibition tent.
244. A cleaning-rod.
245. A Cheshire Volunteer’s belt and pouch.

These articles are now at the police-station, Wandsworth.

Edw. Butt, Superintendent of Police.

July 29, 1867.

Volunteer Service Gazette

Saturday 9 October 1875

Official Notices of the
National Rifle Association.

The following is a List of Articles found at Wimbledon Camp, during the National Rifle Meeting, 1875, and now in possession of the Superintendent of Police, Wandsworth, Surrey:

1 Common Shirt Stud.
2 Walking Sticks (one ash, one cane with bone handle).
1 Door-key.
1 Cap-cover.
1 Briar-root Pipe.
1 Scarf-pin.
1 Glazed Cap-cover.
2 Brown Leather Belts and Pouches.
4 Firing-beds.
2 Cleaning Rods.
1 Watch-key.
1 Brown Leather Strap.
1 Latch-key.
18 Gun-covers – various.
1 White Cap.
1 Small Black Leather Pouch.
1 Small Key.
1 Alpaca Umbrella.
2 Odd Galoches.
2 Boxes of Ammunition.
2 Black Leather Belts.
2 Waterproof Sheets.
1 Black Cap-cover.
1 Small Mat and brown Leather Strap.
2 Pairs of Waterproof Leggings.
3 Sight Protectors.
2 Camp Stools.
1 Pair of White Leather Gloves.
5 Keys on a ring.
1 False muzzle for a Rifle.
3 Black Leather Bags.
2 Brown Silk Umbrellas.
1 Brass Cap of a Telescope.
1 Telescope rest.
1 Ulster Overcoat.
1 Black Macintosh Cape.
1 Pocket Handkerchief.
1 Breechloading Rifle.
1 Small Glass.
1 Small Whip.
1 Grey Overcoat.
1 Brown Leather Purse, containing some money and memoranda, and a card addressed D. Haslett, Boston Park Villas, Brentford. (Letter sent and returned, the person (Haslett) having left the address.)

C. Digby, Superintendent

Police Office, Wandsworth, S.W.

Volunteer Service Gazette

Saturday 6 August 1887

Official Notices of the
National Rifle Association.
LIST of articles found at the Wimbledon Camp during the Meeting of the National Rifle Association, and now in the possession of Superintendent Charles Digby, Police Station, Wandsworth:

1 wind gauge.
2 pairs spectacles in uses and 1 spectacle case.
1 rug strap.
8 gun covers.
2 programme books.
1 return railway-ticket (London to Worksop).
2 cleaning rods.
1 pair orthoptics in case.
2 gun cleaners with strings.
2 briar wood pipes.
1 barrel reflector.
1 small stone seal (T thereon).
3 small keys.
3 back-sight protectors.
5 fore-sight protectors.
1 pocket-book and pipe case.
1 old macintosh.
1 dark tweed coat.
1 pocket-handkerchief (black border).
6 blowpipes.
1 white leather belt.
1 pool bull’s-eye ticket.
1 Volunteer cap (Worcester R.V.).
3 keys.
pocket knife and button hook on a ring.
2 umbrellas (one black silk, one brown silk, both with crook handles).
1 black leather gun sling.
2 long telescopes (one in brown leather case, the other J. H. Walton thereon).
1 satchel with telescope, piece of macintosh and one cartridge.
1 black waterproof coat.
1 walking stick.
1 cap cover.
2 short canes.
1 small cigarette case.
1 pair field glasses in leather case.
1 vernier.
1 black kid glove.
1 bunch of small keys.
1 jag.

Volunteer Service Gazette

Saturday 10 August 1895

Official Notices of the
National Rifle Association.

LIST of articles found during the Bisley Meeting, 1895, and deposited at the Police Station, and not yet restored to owners:

Pair eyeglasses (steel folders).
Back sight protector.
Wooden cleaning rod.
Telescope strap.
Programme book.
Guncover (brown canvas).
Two white silk mufflers.
Mackintosh (black velvet collar).
Wooden pipe (amber mouthpiece).
Pair of dog skin gloves.
Backsight protector.
Cotton handkerchief.
Backsight protector.
Rifle cleaner.
Blow-pipe (red rubber).
Bottle of black.
Receipt for rifles.
Guncover (drab).
Guncover (blue cloth).
Briar pipe.
Windgauge (Parker’s make).
Foresight protector.
Pair of blue serge trousers.
Foresight protector (leather).
Brass pin for rifle.
Foresight protector.
Backsight protector.
Ventometer and strap.
Knee pad (leather).
Soldier’s water bottle.
Foresight protector.
Pocket knife.
Blow pipe.
Foresight protector.
Blow pipe.
Foresight protector.
Part of spectacles in case.
A score book.
Pocket knife.
Pair of spectacles.
Foresight protector.
Foresight protector.
Foresight protector.
Foresight protector.
White cap.
Pair of spectacles.
Leather waist belt.
Rifle cleaner in leather pouch.
Blow pipe.
Foresight protector.
Foresight protector.
Spectacle case.
Blow pipe.
Foresight protector.
Bottle of black.
Badge (4th V.B. E. Surrey).
Wrist strap for rifle.
Blow pipe.
Blow pipe.
Foresight protectcr.
Bag containing shooting requisites.
Backsight protector.
Reflector for rifle.
Handkerchief (red).
Pair of leggings.
Muzzle stopper.
Butt of rifle.
Cleaning rod (wooden).

J. WARNER, Acting Supt.

Metropolitan Police, A Division
17 King Street, Westminster, S.W.

August 1, 1895