NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION. Skilled Shot Certificate.

Granted by the N.R.A., 30th September 1910.

£98

Oblong card certificate; illustration of Stickledown Range, Bisley by I Burton Witson; very good.

Skilled Shot Certificate awarded to Mr G.B Barrett, South West District Post Office Rifle Club, for making a score of 282 points out of 300 over 25 yards with a service rifle at Chelsea Post Office Range.

The National Rifle Association was established in 1860, 'to give permanence to Volunteer Corps, and to encourage rifle shooting throughout Great Britain', and in reaction to fears of invasion by Napoleon III. Its first prize meeting, to enable Volunteers from around the country to compete against one another, was held in the year of its formation at Wimbledon Common on land belonging to John, fifth Earl Spencer. Ranges were constructed to the south and east of the windmill at distances up to 1000 yards. The meeting was opened by Queen Victoria, who fired the first shot, and the award ceremony took place at Crystal Palace, in front of some 20,000 spectators. The National Rifle Association Meetings at Wimbledon flourished but as the area developed due to the expansion of the London suburbs there was increasing pressure to find an alternative site and the last Meeting at Wimbledon was in 1889. After much debate the members of Council voted to move to Bisley, near Brookwood in Woking.

Preparation of the site began in autumn 1889, executed entirely by soldiers, and included the construction of a new railway. A branch line from Brookwood station was built to carry passengers into the camp during annual prize meetings, along with two stations, one at the entrance and one near the refreshment pavilion. The refreshment pavilion, first used at Wimbledon in 1871, was also transferred. It was rebuilt in 1924 at a cost of £25,000. A clock tower was located centrally at the highest point in the camp, some 226' above sea level, and the new butts and ranges, established on land belonging to the War Department, were named Stickledown, Shorts, Century and Long and Short Siberia. 15 months after they began, the Princess of Wales, later Queen Alexandra, fired the first shot. The clock tower was rebuilt in 1934, which may explain the discrepancy in appearance between the current tower and its depiction on the picture by I Burton Witson.

The certificate has been signed by Liet-Col. Charles Robert Crosse CMG, MVO (?1851-1921) in his role as Secretary of the National Rifle Association. Crosse saw service with the Royal West Kent Regiment until his retirement in 1890. He worked with the War Office during World War One and was appointed CMG in 1917 in recognition of 'valuable services in connection with the war'. He served as Secretary of the N.R.A. for 22 years, and was so associated with shooting that he was caricatured in Vanity Fair by WH (Wallace Hester) in 1912 for the 'Men of the Day' series. His gravestone was erected by the National Rifle Association in recognition of his years of service. It is curious to note that although the Army Lists state his year of birth as 1851, the gravestone lists the year of his death as 1921 and states that he was 60 at the time of his death.

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