19th Century Riflemen

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The 19th Century saw a huge growth in interest in rifle target shooting. Queen’s Prize winners were hailed as hero’s and thousands of spectators turned up to witness the long range international matches. Who were these riflemen that attracted such public attention….?

The firearms and gunmakers of the 19th Century are often the feature of study, but today the riflemen are for the most part forgotten. These pages attempt to redress that and record some of the men who pioneered the sport of target rifle shooting from the muzzle loading and into the black powder breech loading era.

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Riflemen Indexes cover countries listed below, and includes brief information about those featured. Where more extensive biographic detail is available, follow the linked names.

Canada | England | Guernsey | Ireland | Scotland | United States of America | Wales

In order to manage the potentially vast amount of information relating to these riflemen, specific events have been researched to slowly build the reference in a manageable fashion. Achievements of the riflemen are likely to be many and those highlighted should not be considered as complete. The focus is primarily on riflemen winning national competitions or being selected for international teams. The events researched are identified below; reference to other events within the biographic information may be included and this has been added as information was found but only those events identified below have been the subject of specific study.

Special Collections

The following special collections feature extensive biographic and related information for the following notable individuals:

Sir Henry Halford (1828-1897)
“The country owes to him the debt which is due to a man who made the science of rifles, as well as the practice of rifle-shooting, the main pursuit of his life, who without thought of pecuniary advantage, laboured without ceasing to discover all that could be discovered about the infantry weapon and to bring that weapon to a state of perfection.” The Times, 5 January 1897

William Ellis Metford (1824-1899) 
G.T. Teasdale-Bucknell in his book “Experts on Guns & Shooting” (1900) referred to William Metford as the ‘father of the match rifle’ and ‘the father of modern rifle-boring.’ William Metford worked closely with the Bristol gunmaker George Gibbs, the manufacturer of the Gibbs-Metford muzzle loading match rifle and the later Farquharson-Metford breech loading rifle.