National Rifle Association

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

NRA Annual Rifle Meeting

The NRA held their first rifle meeting on Wimbledon common in 1860 and with royal patronage and the daily papers and weekly-illustrated journals reporting widely on events, the ‘Wimbledon fortnight’ was marked for success.

  • The Wimbledon Rifle-Match – A contemporary report. [August 1860]
  • A Talk About The National Rifle Association Meeting At Wimbledon – With J.C. Templer, Captain Commanding 18th Middlesex. [August 1860]
  • Rifle Shooting In England – A brief overview of the progress of the National Rifle Association and rifle shooting in England in 1861.
  • Thoughts on The Last Wimbledon Meeting – A retrospective look at Wimbledon and discussion of plans for Bisley [July 1889].
  • Wimbledon & the Volunteers – From 1860 until 1889 the 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?
  • Lost! – Some readers will not 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.

The Queen’s Prize

Queen Victoria fired the inaugural shot at the first NRA rifle meeting on 2 July 1860. The Queen further offered encouragement by founding an annual prize that Volunteers competed for.

  • The Queen’s Prize – Winners of Her Majesty The Queen’s Prize.
  • The Queen’s Prize, 1860-1890 – A newly written study of the evolution of the Queen’s Prize during the time it was held at Wimbledon. Illustrated with contemporary badges and medals. [Published in Research Press Journal, Spring 2019]
  • Rival Rifles – Rigby and Whitworth rifles vie for selection for the Queen’s Prize match in 1865.
  • The Woe’s of Corporal Peake – Controversy surrounding the award of the Gold Medal for the 1868 Queen’s Prize.


  • 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 presented the Elcho Shield for annual competition. 
  • The 2000 yard Competitions – In 1865 the NRA instigated the first of two competitions held at the extreme range of 2000 yards. The rifle designed by William Metford and manufactured by George Gibbs was the only successful one.