1872 Creedmoor and the First Annual Matches

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posted on May 4, 2017
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With financial help from the state of New York, a site for the "American Wimbledon" was purchased in late 1872. Located on Long Island, the Creed farm, that resembled an English moor, was dubbed "Creedmoor." After considerable clearing, development and construction, the range was opened on April 25, 1873 and the first Annual Matches were held at the new range. NRA's program gained wider acceptance and even the skeptical Regulars began to change their ideas about marksmanship training, and in the years ahead took steps to adopt systems developed at Creedmoor.

In September 1874, the Irish International Shooting team arrived in New York for the Creedmoor International Rifle Match. The Irish presented themselves for the match with confidence and in high spirits. The crowds that day were reported to be between 5,000 and 10,000 strong, which showed the enormous support already present for the fledgling sport in America.

The course of fire was 15 shots to each man at 800, 900 and 1000 yards. Unfortunately, the details of each individual score at the various distances have been lost in time, but we do know that the U.S. was well ahead after the 800 yard shoot. The Irish then caught up after the 900 yard and finished the 1000 yard shoot ahead by one point. The U.S. still had one man left to shoot and it came down to his very last shot with which he scored a four, giving the U.S. team the win over the Irish by three points. The U.S. was triumphant and the Irish team was graceful in defeat.

Subsequent competitions at Creedmoor in 1876 and at Wimbledon, England in 1877 brought more attention to the sport and a scientific approach to marksmanship. Now, the best shooters in the world faced off against each other in formal competition.

By 1902, Congress was presented a bill for the institution of a National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice. The bill did not pass despite the support of President Theodore Roosevelt and his Secretary of War, Elihu Root. But, in 1903, thanks in large part to the efforts of NRA President Gen. Bird W. Spencer and New Jersey Senator John Dryden, legislation was successfully reintroduced as an amendment to the War Department Appropriations Bill authorizing the creation of the board (now known as the CMP) and the establishment of the National Rifle and Pistol Matches, known today as the National Matches.

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