Contents


Rifles & Marksmanship | Gunmakers | The Queen's Prize | The Creedmoor Era |
19th Century Riflemen | British Military Longarms | Rifle Volunteers

Rifles & Marksmanship

Long Range Target Shooting. Marksmanship. Rifles, Ammunition & Accessories

Long Range Rifle Fire

A collection of articles on historical topics providing hitherto difficult to find contemporary texts and newly written pieces for the student of long range shooting.


Marksmanship

  • Hints for Long Range Riflemen - Horatio Ross letter of 11 April 1864 giving hints "intended more for young men who have not as yet taken part in public competitions than for our old and experienced riflemen."
  • Wind - from 'First Hints On Rifle Shooting' by A.P. Humphry (William Clowes and Sons, London, 1876). Alfred Paget Humphry (1850-1916) was the Queen's Prize Gold Medal winner in 1871 and represented Great Britain in the GB Rifle Volunteers vs US National Guard competitions of 1882 & 1883.
  • The Back Position - An overview of the back (or supine) position illustrated with 19th century images and photographs of modern riflemen.


Long Range Target Rifles

Long range target rifles are scarce and highly prized collectors items today. While some saw limited use as sharpshooters arms (notably in the American Civil War) the rifles featured here in these general discussions were more often encountered on the rifle range. Further information can also be found at: Gunmakers.


Ammunition

Projectiles, history of the cartridge from paper tube to solid-drawn case. Contemporary information on loading.


Accessories

Accessories associated with rifles and rifle shooting. Military, sporting and target rifles.


Long Range Muzzle Loading

Long range target shooting with the muzzle loading rifle offers the discerning rifleman opportunity to participate in a challenging and ultimately very rewarding discipline. The sport is rich in heritage and the origins of many of todays national shooting associations stem from the muzzle loading era.


Rifles & Marksmanship | Gunmakers | The Queen's Prize | The Creedmoor Era |
19th Century Riflemen | British Military Longarms | Rifle Volunteers

Gunmakers

Historical information on gunmakers; primarily those associated with long range target rifles

England George Gibbs | William Soper | Joseph Whitworth
Ireland John Rigby
Scotland Daniel Fraser | Alexander Henry
USA Homer Fisher | Charles Overbaugh


George Gibbs, Bristol, England

Manufacturer of the muzzle loading Gibbs-Metford rifle and the breech loading Gibbs-Farquharson-Metford rifle. See also: W.E. Metford

William Soper, Reading, England

Manufacturer of a single shot breech loading rifle, renowned for its rapidity of fire.
  • The Soper Rifle - Sent for trial at Woolwich, the rifle and was rejected on the ground of "complication of breech arrangement." [1867]
  • Breech-loaders V. Muzzle-loaders - Report of comparative firing of the Enfield muzzle loader and the Soper breech loader [1869]
  • The Soper Rifle Factory - In Liquidation - News report from 1881 dealing with the sale of the Soper Rifle Factory

Joseph Whitworth, Manchester, England

Approached in 1854 by Lord Hardinge to investigate 'the mechanical principles applicable in the construction of an efficient weapon,' Whitworth's experiments revolutionised rifle design.

John Rigby, Dublin, Ireland

Rigby muzzle loading and later breech loading long range match rifles were famously used by Ireland in international shooting competitions against America.

Daniel Fraser, Edinburgh, Scotland

D. & J. Fraser manufactured a falling block breech loading rifle for Match and Military Breech Loader competition.

Alexander Henry, Edinburgh, Scotland

Alexander Henry (1818-1894) was an Edinburgh gunmaker of muzzle and breech loading rifles including the Henry Fraser two position rifle. Henry's rifling was famously used on the Martini-Henry rifle, adopted by the British Army.
  • The Henry Rifle - A. Henry's "entirely new principle in rifling fire-arms" [1861]
  • The Henry Rifle - Description of the Henry muzzle loading rifle [1862]
  • Obituary: Alexander Henry - A selection of obituary notices following the death of Alexander Henry on 27 January 1894
  • Muzzle Loading Rifles
  • Henry-Fraser Two Position RifleA.Henry & D.Fraser: Improvement in Fire-Arm. United States Patent Office. Specification forming part of Letters Patent No. 201,524, dated 19 March 1878. (nb. the British Patent was applied for on 21 April 1877 and granted on 6 July 1877, under Patent No. 1559). Muzzle and breech loading versions of this rifle are known.

Homer Fisher, New York, USA

New York dealer who sold Fisher's Muzzle-Loading Long Range Match Rifle and other American breech loading match rifles. Fisher was a member of both the Amateur and Empire Rifle Clubs of New York and the US Team to Ireland in 1880.

Charles E. Overbaugh, New York, USA

Charles E. Overbaugh has been reported as at one time Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company's chief travelling salesman and exhibition shooter. He was instrumental in the design of Sharps Model 1877 Long Range Rifle. In 1878 he established his own business, C. E. Overbaugh & Co. Manufacturers and Dealers in Guns, Rifles, and Sporting Goods.


Rifles & Marksmanship | Gunmakers | The Queen's Prize | The Creedmoor Era |
19th Century Riflemen | British Military Longarms | Rifle Volunteers

The Queen's Prize

The National Rifle Association: history and progress

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 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.

Competitions

  • 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.

Rifles & Marksmanship

For further information on target rifles and target shooting history see: Rifles & Marksmanship


Rifles & Marksmanship | Gunmakers | The Queen's Prize | The Creedmoor Era |
19th Century Riflemen | British Military Longarms | Rifle Volunteers

The Creedmoor Era

Creedmoor and the International Rifle Matches

Creedmoor

General articles covering the history of the Creedmoor rifle range.
  • Chronology - Key dates and events charting the rise and demise of Creedmoor Rifle Range
  • Creedmoor, History of the Range - An early article on the occasion of the first annual Prize Meeting of the National Rifle Association [1873]
  • Creedmoor and the International Matches - This article looks briefly at the origins of the National Rifle Association in America and the establishment of Creedmoor Rifle Range. It continues with an overview of the international long range rifle matches.

International Military Rifle Matches

Shooting competitions between the Rifle Volunteers of Great Britain and the National Guard of America were  agreed for 1882 and 1883.

Rifles & Ammunition

The muzzle loading and breech loading rifles and their ammunition. Reference should also be made to Rifles & Marksmanship for more information on this subject.
  • Creedmoor Rifles, 1873 - American manufacturers responded to the need for a long range target rifle.
  • The Creedmoor Rifle, 1876 - Contemporary information on the basic form and ammunition for the American long range rifle.
  • The Science of Long Range Shooting - Edwin Perry shares in his Modern Observations on Rifle Shooting (1880), some of the major changes / advancements at Creedmoor, in particular regarding bullet alloys.

Amateur Rifle Club

The Amateur Rifle Club of New York city was established in 1873. It was this club that accepted the Irish challenge to riflemen of America that led to the series of international long range rifle matches.


Rifles & Marksmanship | Gunmakers | The Queen's Prize | The Creedmoor Era |
19th Century Riflemen | British Military Longarms | Rifle Volunteers

19th Century Riflemen

Pioneers of the sport of target rifle shooting

Biography

The Riflemen Index covers countries listed below, and includes brief information about those featured. Where more extensive biographic detail is available, follow the linked names; alternatively browse via the biography label.

Canada | England | Guernsey | Ireland | Scotland | USA | Wales

Riflemen

The men who pioneered the sport of target rifle shooting from the muzzle loading and into the black powder breech loading era.


Special Collections


Sir H. 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

The painting to the right is oil on canvas, by John Collier in 1896.


W.E. 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 Farquarson-Metford breech loading rifle.

The photograph to the right is from 1878.
  • 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.
  • Metford & Bullet Alloys - W.E. Metford's correspondence with Sir H. Halford provide a fascinating insight into the experimentation conducted by these gentlemen in the pursuit of accuracy.
  • Obituary: William Ellis Metford - (Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Volume 140, 1900, UK)
  • Memoir of William Ellis Metford - This Memoir was privately printed in May, 1900. It was written by H. Brunel, C.E. and Major the Hon. T.F. Fremantle
  • Bibliography - Documents within the Research Press archive


Rifles & Marksmanship | Gunmakers | The Queen's Prize | The Creedmoor Era |
19th Century Riflemen | British Military Longarms | Rifle Volunteers

British Military Longarms

Muskets, Rifles and Carbines. Small Arms Trials. Ammunition. Military Marksmanship


Brunswick

This curious arm with its two-groove bore and belted bullet remained in the hands of Regulars, Militia and Native troops for almost half a century.

Pattern 1838 Musket

The "Musket, Rank and File for Foot Guards", the first percussion musket to be issued in quantity to British soldiers.

Pattern 1841 Carbine

The Pattern 1841 Royal Sappers & Miners, &/or Royal Artillery Carbine

Enfield

The family of British Service Rifles and Carbines introduced during the 1850’s and 1860’s in 0.577 calibre marked the culmination of the soldiers’ muzzle loading firearm.
  • The Enfield Rifle - A visit to the Ordnance Factory, Enfield [1859]
  • The Enfield Rifle - On the manufacture of the muzzle loading Enfield rifle [1860]
  • War Department Notes - Samples of notes written by G.C. Holden in the mid 1860s covering muzzle stopper, snap cap, nipple wrench and the barrel.
  • P'53 Enfield Production Markings - A synopsis of Enfield production markings to help answer some common questions, with regards to identifying British government arms
  • Managing the Enfield - A short treatise for shooting the Enfield rifle today, covering the rifle, equipment, ammunition, shooting, sighting, cleaning and bedding.
  • Enfield Paper Cartridges - This article draws from Hawes' work on Rifle Ammunition (1859) and other contemporary sources. 

Snider-Enfield

The breech loading conversion of the muzzle loading Enfield rifle.

Martini Arms

Martini arms in British service: Martini-Henry, Martini-Enfield, Martini-Metford.

Lee Magazine Rifles

The British Service Lee: Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield rifles and carbines.
  • The Lee Magazine Rifle - An American view on the adoption of a small-bore - 0.303 inch calibre – modified Lee magazine rifle [1889]


Small Arms Trials

  • Lancaster Oval Bore - The "Army (Rifles)" report of 1863 commented favourably on the large bore Lancaster
  • The Soper Rifle - Sent for trial at Woolwich, the rifle and was rejected on the ground of "complication of breech arrangement." [1867]
  • Thomas Wilson his Patents, Arms and Ammunition - Researching the little known Victorian Engineer, Thomas Wilson and his rifle systems work conducted during the 1860’s and later.


Ammunition



Military Marksmanship

For the soldier to take advantage of the advances in firearms technology, so musketry instruction needed to evolve to meet changing military tactics and capabilities.
  • Life in a Crimea Rifle Pit - First hand account of life in a rifle pit during the Crimean War [1855]
  • Chalons - The Camp - A brief comparative overview of the arming and training of the French and British soldier [1856]
  • 'Pickets' versus Bullets - Musketry instruction evolving to follow small arms development [1859]
  • Indian Mutiny Long Shots - Comment on the effect of shooting a fouled muzzle loading Enfield rifle, and on the effectiveness of long range volley fire on artillery crews [1859]
  • Long-Range Rifle Fire - An overview of the development of the rifle in British military service from 1680 to 1885, and the impact on long-range shooting [1885]

Hythe School of Musketry

The School of Musketry was established at Hythe, in Kent, in 1853.


Rifles & Marksmanship | Gunmakers | The Queen's Prize | The Creedmoor Era |
19th Century Riflemen | British Military Longarms | Rifle Volunteers

Rifle Volunteers

Volunteer Infantry, 1859-1908

Rifle Volunteers

  • The British Volunteer System - Written by Rt. Hon. Earl Brownlow, this article gives a brief history of the Volunteer Movement from its establishment to 1900.
  • War Office, Pall Mall, May 12, 1859 - On 12 May 1859 the Government issued a circular sanctioning the formation of Volunteer Corps.
  • County Precedence - Following the sanctioning by the Government of the formation of Volunteer Corps, on 12 May 1859, there was an immediate rush of volunteering. The date on which the first company in a county was formed determined County precedence.
  • Territorial Regiments - In 1881 the British Army was reorganised into territorial regiments with regular, militia and volunteer battalions.

Marksmanship