Celebrating 159 years of Target Rifle Shooting in Australia

by Jan Hall

                                            In the Sydney Morning Herald of 22 November 1842, "Rifleman" issued a challenge:

"Among sports patronised by the sons of Australia is there one superior in art and humanity to the rifle - a weapon which, if used at the target, would excite stimulation of the first order".

On 25 December 1844, it was announced that the first Annual Match of Sydney Rifle Club, for the prize of a rifle, would take place on 1st January 1845.

Thus began the Australian Rifle Club Movement, for over 150 years recognised as a national resource for the teaching of the basic skills of marksmanship. To this day a match in the NSW Queens, "The Sydney", is annually sponsored by the Sydney Rifle Club.

The oldest known trophy in existence is a medal awarded to Mr John Carmichael on 14th April 1848. This is now in a private collection.

The Club has weathered many moves from its start at the Red House Farm at Five Dock to Paddington; to Randwick; to Liverpool; to Malabar. It has had a proud reputation with the notable shooters of their day. Most memorable was Jim Shearim’s world record at Bisley, England, when he compiled a score of 292 (300) with a run of 30 consecutive bullseyes, 2 of which could not be counted.

By 1914, Sydney Rifle Club was mobilised and attached to the 21st Regiment.

In 1916, the Club had over a dozen ex-members at the front and five of the club’s top shots were serving as musketry instructors to the AIF whilst a sixth was a machine gun expert.

Unfortunately, during World War II the records of the club’s intervening years were lost when the Anzac Rifle Range at Liverpool, was commandeered.

However, State Association records show that many of the well-known club's members have served with distinction upon National Rifle Association (NRA), New South Wales Rifle Association (NSWRA) and the Metropolitan District Rifle Association (MDRA) No.1 Councils right through to the present day.

The Club is as alive as ever. The currently active members of the Club are still a driving force, answering the “Marksman’s Challenge” by carrying on the traditions of competition in accurate Australian marksmanship with the encouragement of good fellowship between the many thousands of riflemen and women all over Australia.

The 150th Anniversary was marked by the donation of the 118th NSW Queen’s Prize, a celebration dinner and a re-enactment of the first Prize shoot.

Plans are underway to celebrate the 160th Anniversary in 2004.


Last update: 20 November 2003
Page created: 20 November 2003