The National Trophies

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posted on February 4, 2016
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The trophies awarded at the National Rifle and Pistol Championships not only testify to outstanding marksmanship achievement but are also an encapsulation of the history and evolution of American competitive shooting.

The Dogs of War Trophy
Some of the trophies have been donated by individuals, often as a memorial to a friend or fellow shooter. Some are donated by businesses in support of the shooting sports and others have a history more complicated or unusual. However, there is only one trophy that was created by an act of Congress and that is the National Trophy, also known as the Dogs of War Trophy.

The War Department Appropriations Bill that President Theodore Roosevelt signed in February, 1903, created the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice (NBPRP), the National Matches and the National Trophy which was to be awarded to the winner of the National Rifle Match, a team competition first held at Sea Girt, NJ, in September 1903. The New York National Guard team was the first winner. Today, under the auspices of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), this trophy is still contested in the National Trophy Rifle Team match (NTT). The 2015 winner was the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s Team Praslick with a score of 2938-100X. It is one of the most prestigious and coveted team trophies in shooting competitions today.

The Trophy shows a warrior of ancient times (Mars) holding four dogs on a leash; the alternate name probably derives from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1: “Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.”

Soldier of Marathon
The Soldier of Marathon trophy shares with the Wimbledon Cup the distinction of being the oldest trophy in continuous competition. It was presented to the NRA in 1875 by Gen. George W. Wingate, one of the founders of the NRA and the author of the first U.S. manual on rifle training, Manual for Rifle Practice. The trophy shows the Greek runner Pheidippides who, by legend, in 490 B. C., ran the 26 miles from the battlefield of Marathon (where the outnumbered Athenians had just defeated the invading Persians) to Athens, collapsing on arrival but still holding high the torch of victory announcing “Rejoice, we have conquered” and then falling dead from exhaustion.

Originally awarded to the winner of the Interstate Military Match, today the CMP awards the Soldier of Marathon Trophy to the high scoring civilian team in the NTT. The 2015 winner was the Texas State Rifle Association team with a score of 2900-76X.

Hilton Trophy
Lastly, the Hilton Trophy was presented to the NRA in 1878 by the Honorable Henry Hilton of New York. Crafted by Tiffany’s, it was awarded to the winner of the International Military Match held that year at the Creedmoor (NY) range. The trophy shows an Indian buffalo hunt with additional displays of eagles and Indian war shields upon which the winner’s names were to be inscribed. Now also a CMP trophy, the Hilton is awarded to the high reserve component team in the NTT match. The 2015 winner was the All Guard Gold team with 2898-88X.

In 1903 the NRA presented the Soldier of Marathon and Hilton Trophies to the NBPRP to show the support of the NRA for the newly-created National Matches. They remain in National Match competition today, witnesses to the on-going legacy of the National Matches and testaments to our history.

NRA Historian Paul Nordquist continues to provide fascinating articles garnered from the rich history of competitive shooting.

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