Bisley Camp and the National Rifle Association

Generally recognised as the main centre of rifle shooting Bisley Camp is also the home of the National Rifle Association.

The National Rifle Association was founded in 1859, originally to provide a focus for marksmanship for the newly formed corps of volunteers that had been raised to meet the perceived threat of invasion by the French.

The Whitworth rifle fired by Queen Victoria in 1860. Courtesy of The National Rifle Association Museum. Photograph by Brian Wood.

The Whitworth rifle fired by Queen Victoria in 1860.
Courtesy of The National Rifle Association Museum.
Photograph by Brian Wood.

The Association organised the first set of competitions on Wimbledon Common in July 1860. Queen Victoria fired the first shot and gave a prize of 250 for the best individual marksman. This set the pattern for the Annual Meeting, held every year except during the two World Wars. The Queens Prize remains the premier award for the rifleman and the July Imperial Meeting is internationally famous.

Cover of Programme of Annual Prize Meeting, 1890. Surrey History Centre 6227/2/20

Cover of Programme of Annual Prize Meeting, 1890.
Surrey History Centre 6227/2/20

The ranges were on Wimbledon Common from 1860 to 1889 and then at Bisley from 1890. The Princess of Wales, later Queen Alexandra, fired the first shot at the beginning of the 1890 Imperial Meeting at Bisley.

Bisley has hosted world championships, commonwealth games and Olympic shooting events.

Useful Links

Bisley

Marjorie Foster

The National Rifle Association Museum

19th Century Surrey

5 thoughts on “Bisley Camp and the National Rifle Association”

  1. Michael Ashenheim says:

    My great grand father Lewis Ashenheim travelled with the Jamaica Rifle Club team when the country was first represented at the National Rifle Championship and I am trying to find any details of this event. I would even be interested in knowing the year that Jamaica was first represented there

    thanks

    Michael

  2. Nancy Smith says:

    My grandfather was a marksman and won many events at Bisley but I can’t fing any reference to him. I would appreciate any help you can give me regarding my grandfather. His name is W.A. Smith. Thank you ver much. I appreciate any info.

  3. James Beadle says:

    My father James Beadle said he won one of the bisley cup competitions but I cannot find any record he serve in the army fo 19 year up until the end of the war

    1. James Whalen says:

      I was with the Canadian Armed Forces Bisley Rifle Team 1976. I was the only private on the team . I’ve often wandered what happen to all of us , we were pretty close for Two years, 75 and 76. I’ve search for photos and basically anything about the team but find nothing, am I looking in the wrong places? Does Bisley or NRA or the Canada house keep photos of teams from the past. Is there a way to contact the Canada house. Is there a way to view old team photos?

      1. John Burger says:

        James Whalen. Your best bet is to contact the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association at http://www.dcra.ca/contact.php and they could direct you at least. A private won the Kings Prize for Canada back in the 20’s or so, and he was a national hero and received incredible attention.

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