By: D.B. Minshall
|The Prince and Princess of Wales witnessing|
the match between the Lords and Commons
(Illustrated London News, 25 July 1863).
The Queen had further offered encouragement by founding an annual prize that Volunteers competed for in two stages; the first at 300, 500 and 600 yards, and the second at 800, 900 and 1000 yards. Prize money was £250.
With royal patronage and the daily papers and weekly-illustrated journals reporting widely on events, the 'Wimbledon fortnight' was marked for success and established as a fashionable summer attraction. By the mid-1860s, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Manchester newspapers had correspondents on the ground throughout the meeting, while the results of the chief competitions were telegraphed from day to day.
winner of the Queens Prize, 1865
(Illustrated London News, 29 July 1865)
Contrary to expectations in some quarters the Volunteer movement became firmly established. In 1860 there were 106,443 efficient Volunteers, and the numbers steadily increased in 1870 to 170,671; in 1880 to 196,938, and in 1888 to 220,124. Great Volunteer reviews before large crowds of spectators, and sometimes royalty, were held throughout the country where the men demonstrated their skill at drill and skirmishing. Local and regional rifle matches become commonplace and by the end of the decade of the 1860's Great Britain, with no prior tradition for rifle marksmanship, had thousands of trained riflemen.
2. From 1861, 200 yards replaced the 300 yards range.
Introduction | Royal Patronage | Competitions | Volunteer Camp | Serious Aims