Charles W. Hinman (1849-1922)

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Written by: David Minshall

An article on ‘The Record Long Range Score‘ was written by Maj. C. W. Hinman, and published in Arms and the Man in 1915.

Maj. Charles W. Hinman

Charles Hinman was born 11 April 1849 in West Concord, Vermont. He spent his boyhood on a farm, and devoted his leisure time to trapping. Graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1870, he taught chemistry there for a year or more. He was the first State gas inspector in Massachusetts, holding the office more than 20 years. Later he was manager of the Tufts Meter Company for five years, before going into business for himself. His business was absorbed by the American Meter Company, and he continued with the company as a consulting engineer until his death. In late life hunting and fishing were his recreation. He died in Nova Scotia, in May 1922, while travelling home to Winchester, MA, after developing heart problems on a fishing trip.

As Private Charles Hinman with 1st Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, he represented the USA in the military rifle matches of 1882 and 1883 between British Rifle Volunteers and US National Guard. By 1888 and as a Major, he was assistant inspector-general rifle practice, First Brigade. He was an officer of, and for four years president of, the Massachusetts Rifle Association. He represented the Association in team competitions and later coached teams in the National matches at Camp Perry. Hinman was also responsible for the design of the standard American target adopted by a majority of rifle clubs in January 1886.

Charles Hinman was undoubtedly a noted marksman of his day and speaks with authority in the foregoing article. One item however remains perplexing; his score of 224 x 225 at Walnut Hill, Mass., on 24 August 1881. Results published at the time credit the score to W.C. Gregory.

New York Herald, 25 August 1881

[By Telegraph To The Herald]

Boston, Mass., August 24, 1881

Mr. W.C. Gregory, of the Massachusetts Rifle Association, in what is known as the “Victory Match,” at Walnut Hill range to day, made the best score on record at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards. He made 38 bull’s eyes before breaking, and scored 224 out of a possible 225. The following is the score made by Mr. Gregory:-

Yard  Totals
800. . . . .5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 575
900. . . . .5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 575
1000. . . . .5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 5 5 5 5 5 574
Grand total. . . . . 224

The “Victory Match” referred to was a series of competitions held broadly on a weekly basis from May to November 1881. Perusal of results has to-date failed to find C.W. Hinman listed in any of the matches. In summing up the series of competitions, Forest & Stream (1 December 1881) noted “The Victory long-range match, which has been shot Wednesdays since May 11, closed at Walnut Hill, Nov. 23. The season’s shooting has developed some remarkable scores. The best work was done by W.C. Gregory, whose score of 224 out of a possible 225 is the best on record.”

Biographies published of Hinman on the prelude to the 1882 National Guard vs Rifle Volunteers match are contradictory: The Spirit of the Times, 26 August 1882, notes “at long range in five consecutive competitions, his lowest score was 217 and his highest 224 points in a possible 225”, while Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 9 September 1882, notes “He has been shooting about three years, but only lately took up long range work.”

The New York Clipper Annual chronicled sporting events. That for 1893 in a history of sporting events notes:

  • 1881, Aug. 24 – Rifle Competition, 800, 900, 1,000 yards. 15 shots at each; W.C. Gregory, 224 out of 225 possible points, 38 consecutive bull’s eyes – Walnut Hill, Mass.

However, in the same edition and under a record of best performances notes for the same date and venue:

  • 224 out of 225 – C.W. Hinman, 800, 900, 1,000 yards, 15 shots at each distance, Boston, Mass., Aug 24, 1881.

Can anyone offer more insight into this?