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as the proud representative of 180,000 able-bodied men, of all ranks, schools and classes, who have, without reference to political opinions, enrolled themselves as the defenders of their country. Lord Elcho has in reality been the representative of the Volunteers in the House of Commons. To him we owe the Volunteer Commission of 1863; and to him, through that Commission, we owe the Capitation Grant, but for which the numbers must have diminished. While this paper was being written, Lord Elcho was urging upon Sir J. Pakington the necessity for a still further grant. At the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, which took place a few weeks ago in Willis's Rooms, and from which Lord Elcho modestly absented himself, His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge spoke the feeling of all Volunteers when he said that "Lord Elcho had on all "occasions shown a vast amount of zeal,
GENERAL HISTORY OF THE ASSOCIATION.
The Volunteer movement originated in a feeling, which was spread throughout the country, of serious danger from foreign invasion. It was generally believed that, as the feeling of apprehension as to national security diminished, the vitality of the Volunteer force would lessen, the numbers decrease, decay gradually creep in, until, after the lapse of a very few years-five, or seven, or tenthe whole force would disappear, and the Volunteer movement would for the second time in the present century become merely "a historical fact." Happily, the result has completely falsified this
somewhat natural and very general belief. The numbers have increased annually; the efficiency has become. greater from year to year. The feeling which undoubtedly gave rise to the force can claim no share in having produced this unexpected growth. It may arise partly from the exercise, pleasant companionship, occasional visits for drill to pleasant country places, or open ground near some town of note; but it hardly admits of a doubt that it is mainly due to the encouragement of rifle-shooting which has been fostered by the National Rifle Association, together with the affiliated county associations. What our universities are to the educational system of the country, that is the National Rifle Association to our system of home-defence. As our boys leave their tutors, grammar schools, and public schools, in order to compete for the high distinctions and solid honours of our universities, in like manner do the heroes of local rifle meetings, the selected marksmen of companies, battalions, and counties, mingle at Wimbledon, and there compete for the valuable prizes and high distinctions which can alone be obtained at the great annual gathering of riflemen which takes place under the management of the National Rifle Association. Education, however crippled, would certainly go on if our universities were abolished; but, if the National Rifle Association were allowed to fall to pieces, the lesser shooting organizations, and probably the Volunteer force itself, would be involved in ruin.
The National Rifle Association was established at a meeting held in London, with Lord Elcho in the chair, on the 16th of November, 1859. The idea of the Association was first set on foot by some Volunteers at Hythe, with Earl Spencer at their head; while the Council of the London Rifle Brigade may lay claim to having been the first to announce an annual competition upon a large scale. The Hythe Committee and the London Committee were happily united at Spencer House in October, 1859; the preliminary meetings were held at the same house,
and Lord Spencer from the first took a most active part in the work. Thus united, and having been strengthened from various parts of the kingdom, the Association was fairly launched, with Mr. Sidney Herbert as President, and Lord Elcho as Chairman, on the date above mentioned. The National Rifle Association, appealing as it does "to that "healthy manly spirit of rivalry and 'competition which is characteristic of Englishmen, and which is the life and "soul of all our sports," directly fosters the education of every rifleman throughout the land. It is useless for a man to compete at Wimbledon unless he has had considerable practice, and met with great success in his own village or district. The Londoners are beginning to take keen interest in the competitions at Wimbledon; but the interest shown in the provinces is far more significant even than the increase of spectators to see the shooting. Edinburgh, Manchester and Liverpool have newspaper correspondents on the ground throughout the meeting, while the results of the chief competitions are telegraphed from day to day. The senior wrangler of the year is the winner of the Queen's Prize of 250l. and the Gold Medal of the National Rifle Association. In 1865, Private Sharman, of the 4th West York Rifles, won this coveted distinction. As a matter of course, he was chaired and cheered; his health was heartily drunk by all his friends; he was photographed, lionized, and finally received his prize from noble, if not royal, fair hands, the band playing, "See, the Conquering Hero comes!" But, bewildered as Mr. Sharman must have been by his hearty reception on the scene of his victory, he must have been still more astonished at the remarkable demonstration which awaited him on his return to Halifax. Here he was received in state by the town-officials, and conducted in procession, as the man whom his townsmen wished to honour, through the principal streets. There were many thousands to see the champion-the crowd, we are told, being greatly in excess of that which filled the streets on the occasion
of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Halifax.
In 1859 Volunteering was new, rifleshooting almost unknown. The Council had not only to draw up the rules and regulations, but had themselves everything to learn. Discussion, of course, arose as to the rifles to be used, the form of target at which to fire, the best distances, the number of shots, the proper position in which to shoot, the system under which the firing was to be conducted, together with the nature and value of the prizes. It is hard now to estimate the difficulty of the task which these gentlemen had undertaken; the success which has attended their efforts sufficiently shows the wisdom of their management. Support was warmly given to them on all sides. The Queen, Prince Albert, and Duke of Cambridge not only presented valuable prizes to be annually competed for, but consented to inaugurate the meeting. The Queen herself fired the first shot on the opening day. dresses were presented and answered; and, in spite of mud, of wet, and difficulty, the first meeting of the National Rifle Association was auspiciously commenced in brilliant sunshine by the highest in the realm.
The prize-list for 1867 shows a still further increase. While the number of prizes has been increased twelvefold, their value has been only quadrupled. This arose from the wish of the competitors themselves, who constantly urged upon the Council to distribute the money at their disposal over as wide an area as possible. The competitors come
from every part of the kingdom, and are taken from every class; hence to very many it is of urgent importance that they should if possible not only win honour and distinction, but also sufficient money to defray their unavoidable expenses. It is far better to give ten prizes of 51. than one of 507., and this policy has been adopted in all the preliminary stages, and for all prizes where it can be put into operation.
During these years a corresponding increase has taken place in the prizes offered by the county associations which are in connexion with the National Rifle Association. The prize list of the parent association being added to these, we find the amounts were,—
£14,000 in 1862.
14,907 in 1863.
15,976 in 1864.
18,751 in 1865. 23,177 in 1866.
If the Council were to call for returns of all the prizes given at company, battalion, county, and private matches, and also at the great simultaneous matches, we should perhaps find that the sum reached 100,000. If this is the case, the person most sceptical as to the national advantage of the Volunteer movement would be convinced that it is of some importance. If its supporters furnish so large a sum of money to be contended for annually, they at any rate are in earnest in their belief that rifle-shooting exercises an important influence upon Volunteering, and therefore upon national defence.
The competitors for the Queen's prizes and for all the other prizes, exclusive of the shooting for sweepstakes and pool, have been as follows:
who have taken most keenly to Volunteering are amongst the most busy and active men, often the most influential, in their respective localities. The idlers of society find Volunteering far too ene getic an amusement. Shooting takes a great deal more time than they can possibly afford from their listless and useless lives. Hence, as might be expected, nearly all Volunteers are actively employed in some profession, business, or trade. Polling clerks, canvassers, agents, seconders, proposers, candidates, and returning officers, were unable to put in their usual appearance at Wimbledon. The entries, the visitors, the members, and consequently the income, were all materially affected by the general election, which, luckily for the National Rifle Association, has taken place only once since it has been in existence. Lord Elcho was himself called away from Wimbledon to defend his seat from an unexpected attack.
The competitors for the Queen's Prize cannot increase as rapidly as the competitors for the open prizes, to whose numbers there is no practical limit except that of time and targets. Only two representatives from each company may shoot for the Queen's Prize, and the whole of the competitors for the Queen's Prize are picked representative shots, men chosen simply for their shooting powers. All are chiefs in their own restricted shooting quarters-all may be said to have graduated with honours. Every city and town sends up its known champions, while scores of unheard-of villages send up their latent heroes, and often not without success. The village of Wem would never perhaps have been heard of out of Shropshire, if Sergeant Roberts, who won the Queen's Prize in 1863, had not rescued it from its obscurity. Few Englishmen, at any rate, had heard of Kingussie, whence hails modest young Cameron, who gave his name to the meeting of last year.
It is almost as difficult to compare the shooting of one year with another as it is to compare two boats' crews the
one of which is rowing with the tide and the other against it. The weather influences the firing more perhaps than it is possible to make fair allowance for; therefore the following figures are but the rough results, and do not profess to do more than let our readers see what constitutes average shooting.
Enfield Shooting: the Queen's Prize. -These records begin from 1864, in which year the size of the targets was altered:
1864. Three men made 47 marks; one made 46 marks; four made 45 marks; and twenty-two who made only 40 marks won prizes.
1865. Two made 47; eight made 45; and several prize-winners only made 39.
1866. Two made 48; one made 47; eight made 46; six made 45; and no less than 43 men who made the excellent score of 41 marks were excluded from taking prizes. Both in 1864 and 1865 these men would have been high in the prize list.
There are three degrees of scoring. A hit counts 2, if not in the centre, which reckons 3, or in the bull's-eye, for which 4 is scored; so that to make 45 marks a man must average every shot in the centre, as all fire 15 rounds. The average shooting is much the same from year to year; more men made in 1864 the score of 13 at 200 yards, 11 at 500 yards, and 8 at 600 yards than any other numbers. In 1865 these became 13 at 200, 10 at 500, 8 at 600; while in 1866 there was an improvement to 14 at 200, 11 at 500, 9 at 600 yards.
In 1864 there were 1,792 competitors, of whom no fewer than 1,398 made either 11, 12, 13, 14, or 15 marks at 900; 837 made 9, 10, 11, 12, or 13 marks at 500; and 695 made 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 at 600 yards. And we find from year to year much about the same average, 1866 being, taken altogether, very nearly a mark in advance of 1864 or 1861.
This is, then, something very near the average shooting of picked shots with the Enfield rifle; and, low as it
may seem, it is better than perhaps can be made by any body of armed men with the Government rifle with which they are armed.
Small-bore Shooting.-The great shooting reputation which this country has made for itself at very long distances has been made by the men who are known as the "small-bore men," who shoot with delicate rifles, not in any way adapted for military purposes, but which are admirably suited for targetshooting. These men usually appear at the firing-point with a servant to assist in the multifarious occupations with which they have to prepare for the great trials of brains and skill. For they have to shoot more with their brains, availing themselves of their vast experience, than with their rifles, which will do simply whatever their masters enable them to do. When a really skilled shot of this kind misses the bull's-eye, or is out of the centre at any rate, he can almost invariably assign a sufficient reason for his failure. The servant assists in carrying the precious rifle, the carefully-weighed charges of powder, the mechanically-fitting bullet and cleaning-rod, their Ross, Burrow, or Steward telescope, the all-important waterproof bed on which to lie down, the portable gunsmith's shop, with every variety of instrument that accident may call into use, and, although last, by no means least, a box containing many sights, of various forms and patterns and sizes, which these skilled and highly-trained men adapt to their rifles under the very varying circumstances of wind and light, as quickly and readily as a veteran fisherman varies his mode of attack when anxious to secure a victim whose weight and pluck will prove worthy of the angler's skill. Dr. Cotton's quaint lines upon the equipment necessary for an angler, in which he enumerates no less than fourteen things as essential, and says— "See that all things be right,
For 'twould be a spite
To want tools when a man goes a-fishing," might easily be altered into a de
scription of the correct equipment for a Wimbledon small-bore man. It was such a one who, seeing a young urchin about to take up the precious rifle on which all his hopes depended, exclaimed, "Take care, you scoundrel, where are you going? You might just as well take one's watch and hurl it to the ground. Begone, sir!"
On one occasion there were twenty prizes given to be shot for by these men at 500 yards, and every prize-winner scored twenty marks, which is the highest that can be made in five shots. Each man hit a mark two feet square every shot.
International and other Matches.There are two International Matches. One is contested by twenty volunteers, who shoot for a challenge trophy, value 1007, which was collected by a committee with Colonel the Hon. C. Lindsay at its head, who worked as hard for this object as he has for the St. George's Vase, an important Volunteer prize, with which Colonel Lindsay's name will ever be connected. The other is for "The Elcho Shield," a noble work of art of enormous value, presented for challenge competition by the nobleman whose name it bears.
The Volunteer Match has been shot three years
1864. England, 1016 marks; Scotland, 724 marks.
1865. Scotland, 1047 marks; England, 1029 marks; Ireland, 909 marks.
1866. England, 1070 marks; Scotland, 1059 marks.
The Elcho Shield has been shot for five years
1862. England, 890 marks; Scotland, 724 marks.
1863. England, 1032 marks; Scotand, 999 marks.
1864. Scotland, 967 marks; England, 950 marks.
1865. England, 1053 marks; Scotland, 1051 marks; Ireland, 935 marks.
1866. Scotland, 1170 marks; England, 1121 marks; Ireland, 1039 marks.
Thus England has won three times and Scotland twice.
In 1865 the excitement was immense, owing to a difference which arose as to one shot. The correspondence that took place between the Earl of Ducie and Mr. Horatio. Ross, as captains of the respective teams, was a model for all great opposing leaders. The decision was rightly given in favour of the Saxons; and Mr. Ross, in right courteous language, congratulated the rival chief upon his hard-fought, bloodless victory, who in his turn thought such a defeat as his friends the Scots had sustained was nearly as honourable as victory. This incident furnished one of the Wimbledon camp poets with a subject on which to exercise his fervid gift. The shield now hangs in the Parliament House in Edinburgh in charge of the Lord Provost of that City. The shooting in 1866, as will be seen from the above score, was excellent. Ireland has made an excellent start, and bids fair to win the shield ere many years are past.
The Lords and Commons match attracts many of the "Upper Ten Thousand" to the ground, and causes much pleasant excitement. The late Jules Gérard, the Lion-killer as he was commonly called, was at Wimbledon in 1862, and was gratified and astonished at the completeness of the arrangements and the skill of the Volunteers. "But," to use his own words, "what "impressed me most during the meet"ing was the match between the Mem"bers of the House of Lords and those "of the House of Commons. It mat"tered little, to my thinking, in which "camp victory remained; the im "portance of the fact entirely consists "in the example set in such high
quarters. In truth, but for the "difference in the weapons made use "of, we might have thought that we
were living in the good old times, "when our knightly ancestors stood, "lances in rest, in the lists. With "such examples before them there is
no fear but that the young students "of your universities will become men; no fear but that the noble love of arms will spread to all classes of 'society."