The History Of Creedmoor Range

The 70-acre plot in Long Island was selected by Col. Henry G. Shaw, a member of the NRA’s first Range Committee and Board of Directors.

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posted on March 30, 2023
Creedmoor2
Early etching depicting the first day’s combined practice by the foreign and American teams at Creedmoor, September 6, 1876.
NRA archive photo

In 1872, the Creedmoor range of Long Island was just an overgrown piece of sandy real estate owned by the Central Railroad. The rail service had purchased the 70-acre plot from the Creed family who had farmed the land since colonial times. It was selected by Colonel Henry G. Shaw, a member of the NRA’s first Range Committee and Board of Directors who, after viewing the parcel, declared it, “Just like the moors of southern England. Perhaps we should call it Creed’s Moor, rather than the Creed Farm.”

Not much to look at, the weed infested flatland was just what the young NRA was looking for, as the north-south layout of the 1,200-yard oblong strip meant shooters would never have to fire with the sun in their eyes. This was a sure benefit over the lay of the famed Wimbledon course in England, the most recognized range of the day, so the NRA commenced to overhaul the land and prepare it for use.

Creedmoor position
A dapper gentleman shooting in the famed “Creedmoor” shooting position. (NRA archive photo)

 

Creedmoor’s first NRA Annual Matches were held on October 8, 1873, and were dominated by military regiments to great success. But, within the NRA there developed a group of competitors that diverted from military shooting exercises and pursued long-range skills. These shooters formed the Amateur Rifle Club, the first NRA affiliated club. They devoted themselves to long-range shooting, although the measurement of American long range at the time was generally to be found around the 500-yard mark.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the Irish had won Britain’s coveted Elcho Shield after shooting over a course of fire at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards. They were clamoring for suitable competition from abroad and assuming that the famed American “buffalo hunters” had experience at their type of long-range shooting, issued a general invitation to America to compete under conditions like those of the Elcho Shield.

1874 American Rifle Team
On the left is the American Team of 1874; to the right is the competing Irish Team.

 

Undaunted by the foreign definition of long distance, the Amateur Rifle Club accepted the challenge with the full support of the NRA and prepared for the “Irish Invasion.”

As range improvements were made, Creedmoor became more than just the range’s name. Perhaps most significantly, new rifles were built—Creedmoor match rifles. For shooters to be as accurate as their new rifles, they developed the awkward looking, but ever-so-steady Creedmoor position. As the Americans won that inaugural match of 1874, the true era of long-range shooting was born bearing Creedmoor for both its name and its stylistic explication.

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