George Charles Gibbs (1859–1918)

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Written by: David Minshall

Bristol gunmaker George Gibbs died in 1884, aged 72. Two sons, George C. (1859–1918) and Herbert W. (1862-1933), continued the family business.

George C. Gibbs was a gifted shot and G.T Teasdale-Bucknell in his “Experts on Guns & Shooting” (1900) observed that he “would by rifle shots be conceded the first place in the British Islands as a long range rifle shot. This position G.C. Gibbs has gained by no single feat but by constant good shooting, varied only by occasional phenomenal feats.

The 1894 NRA Rifle Meeting at Bisley was a particularly successful one for George, as reported by the Bristol Mercury of Tuesday, 24 July 1894:

Capt. Gibbs, of the Bristol Engineers, has been so successful at Bisley this year that his record performance is worth briefly summarising. He won in all no less than sixteen prizes, eight of which were “firsts” thus beating his own record, and there must be few indeed who have secured eight firsts at Bisley. He has carried off about £120 in cups and other prizes in plate and £70 in money. He shoots little with the Martini Henry, but in the any rifle competitions he shot with a Gibbs Metford .461 bore match rifle, made by himself, and in the military breechloader contests with a Gibbs Metford .303 rifle, also made by a himself. The following is a list of his wins:

Albert cup, 800, 900, and 1000 yards, cup value: 50gs.
Bass competition, 900 and l000 yards lst prize: £10
Dudley competition, top score divided with 2nd & 3rd: £7
Halford competition, 1000 yds, 2nd prize: £6
Ladies’ prize, 900yds, lst prize: £5
Regulars v. Volunteer Officers, top score: Cup
Waldegrave competition, 4th prize: £4
Walter Winans competition, 2nd prize: £5
Wimbledon Cup, 1100 yds, value: £25

Duke of Cambridge competition, 2nd prize: £8
Fremantle competition, 2nd prize: £5
Steward competition, lst prize, telescope value: £21
Wilmot competition, lst prize: £7
Metford cup: £21
Secretary of State for War competition, 8th prize: £2

Capt. Gibbs also won two minor prizes with the Martini-Henry, which he does not much use, and practically swept the board in the any rifle and military breech loader competition. The Albert Cup, 10 shots at 900 and 15 at 1000, is the blue riband of the any rifle contests. But Capt. Gibbs’s great performance was in winning the Wimbledon Cup, 15 shots at 1100 yards. The 69 points of last year stood as a record, but this year Capt. Gibbs won it with 71 out of a possible 75, and was six points ahead of the next man. This contest was shot in a strong wind with rapid changes of light, requiring constant changes of angle and wind allowances. In a few minutes’ chat with the crack shot as to how he lost the Association Cup we learned that as he had made the highest possible at the distance (900 yards) he had to shoot three tie shots and someone shouted “You have only two minutes in which to shoot your ties.” He wanted to alter the wind gauge, but as time was short he went on, and just got outside. In the Halford contest he made the same total as the winner. In the Ladies’ Prize each lady member of the Association is allowed to nominate her champion, and Capt. Gibbs shot for his mother. In the match between the Regulars and the Volunteers he made the top score, 218, out of a possible 225. In the Walter Winans the winner beat him by only one point. In the Duke of Cambridge competition be, unfortunately, missed his first shot. In the Fremantle contest (1000 yards), in which he took second prize, he made the same total as the winner, but he lost on the “count back.” He was very particular in the manufacture of his two rifles, and he never went to the National meeting with more confidence; he never returned with more success.