The National Rifle Association Annual Prize Meeting was inaugurated in 1860 and was greatly supported and sponsored. There is a Gunmakers’ Challenge Trophy which was presented to the NRA by the WCoG in 1867. The Company’s Coat of Arms is on the reverse and the front states that it is for the highest scorer in the International Match incepted in 1864 for County militia from the home countries at a time when the NRA’s key purpose was to encourage competent rifle shooting among the civilian Volunteers. Now named the National Match between the four home countries it is a match of 20-a-side from each home country and continues to this day. The National Match trophy is the most spectacular owned by the NRA and kept in the NRA Museum in a secure enclosure. The challenge trophy presented by the WCoG is of the decorated silver of its time and gilded inside.
In 1872 the NRA determined that it was wrong for an individual, aided by coaches, to be presented with a trophy and, from 1873, the Gunmakers’ Trophy was presented to the captain of the winning team. However, the Gunmakers’ Trophy ceased to be awarded to the National Match captain after 1925 and re-appeared in 1927 as the trophy for the winning team of 4 which had taken part in the target pistol series of matches. To all intents, pistol shooting came to an end 20 years ago, save for service teams and is shot for at Pirbright, not Bisley.
By agreement with the NRA the Trophy has been re-allocated to a new event in the NRA Grand Aggregate for Target Rifle – the direct descendant of the standardised rifle specification of 1860, now 7.62mm calibre.
The new competition is made up of the aggregate of the two 1,000 yard shoots, shot on the Monday and Wednesday of the 9 day Annual Prize Meeting for Target Rifles. Target Rifle shooting is just one part of the 5 week Annual Prize Meeting which also includes events such as for the Services, Reserves, Service Cadets and School Cadets.
The Target Rifle is held unsupported, except by a sling and does not have telescope sights. Out of 263 entries, the winner was Dr John Warburton who is a previous winner of HM The Queen’s Prize and the Trophy was presented to him on this first occasion by the Company’s Renter Warden, Roddy Richmond-Watson.
Roddy Richmond-Watson (left) presents the Gunmakers Trophy to John Warburton
The pistol event still continues under the name of ‘Gunmakers’ with 4 NRA ‘gold’ medals awarded to the winning team of the aggregate of the series and was won this year by the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Services’ team with the RAF team, second. The RAF has produced some of our finest rifle and pistol shots, including Mick Gault OBE, the winner of 17 Commonwealth Games pistol medals. There were just 5 entries for the pistol series of events this year.
PME John Jackman 31st July 2018