QRA HISTORY COMMITTEE UPDATE July 2013

"the QRA Museum’s 45th Anniversary Display of the Queensland Ladies Rifle Team"

 

QRA HISTORY COMMITTEE UPDATE 30 September 2012

Friends of the Museum Questionnaire

Museum Newsletter March 2012

 

Queensland Rifle Shooting Celebrates 150 years

QRA 150yrs Celebrations: 

 

The Queensland Rifle Association is the State’s oldest sporting body.

 

The QRA was formed back in 1861 and is celebrating its 150th anniversary in style at the prestigious Queens Prize shoot in Brisbane next week.

 

More than 250 shooters from around Australia will come to Belmont Range to compete for the 130th Queens Prize. Action begins with the Duncan Match on August 16 with the three-day Queens Prize contested from August 18-20.

 

A history book commissioned by the Association will be officially launched on August 17, the eve of the Queens Prize, by the State Governor Penelope Wensley.

 

A permanent historical display at the Association headquarters at Belmont Shooting Complex will also be opened.

 

Queen Victoria instigated the Queens Prize in Great Britain when she put up a purse to encourage better marksmanship by troops in the post Boer War era.

 

The Queensland Queens is the oldest in Australia, and the 2011 event will continue a grand tradition where individual marksmen and women are tested over a grueling three
day contest at 10 different ranges from 300 to 1000 yards.

 

This year, members of the Australian Rifle Team will gather in Brisbane to compete ahead of the World Long Range Championships which the Queensland Rifle Association is
hosting at Belmont in October.

 

Queensland has three shooters in the Australian team, George Edser from Brisbane and husband and wife Darren Enslin and Gillian Webb-Enslin from Appletree Creek near Childers.

 

THE FEDERAL CUP

The historic Federal Cup won the Queensland rifle shooting team in 1899 is flanked by Private Christian Rafferty from 9th Battalion Royal Queensland Regiment and Robert Finlay dressed in a Queensland Scottish uniform from the 1880s, with an early Martini breech loading rifle and bayonet.

LINK to Quest Newspapers story about the Federal Cup (17 August 2011)
 

QRA History Book       
 
     

Home on the Range by Bill Casey
launched on 17 August 2011
$33 ea, available for purchase from
Q-Store, QRA Office and QRA Club 

or order from QRA 
email qra@qldrifle.com, Ph 07-3398 4309 
(Postage in Australia $12; please enquire for international rates) 

 

History - The Queensland Rifle Association

Queensland Rifle Association is the Oldest Sporting Association in Queensland
formed 15 May 1861

History Project - The Queensland Rifle Association 1927-2002

The QRA has established a Historical Committee to collect and catalogue documentary evidence, which will be used to research the history of the Queensland Rifle Association since 1861.   If any members, past or present, have documents that contain material which relates to the Association, and that they wish to donate or loan to the Committee, please deliver to the QRA office at Belmont Range or post to:

QRA, PO Box 38, Carina  Qld   4152
Please ensure you include the following:
Name, Address, Contact Phone Number, List of Documents, Instructions for donation or return to sender.
Any enquiries should be directed to John Johnstone via the QRA office.

Bill Casey, the QRA Historian

QRA History Update from Bill Casey 29/04/10

 

Queensland's 1884 Defence Act  changed the colony's status as one military jurisdiction. From February 1885, it split into Northern and Southern Military districts, with Rockhampton the beginning of ‘the north’. This seemed fitting: when the QRA's first President, Maurice O’Connell, sought donations for Dublin's Daniel O’Connell monument, a party of Rockhampton residents celebrated their own generosity with considerable libation and a toast to ‘North Queensland and Separation from the Brisbanites!’ (Courier 15/7/1863, p. 2) In Townsville, a North Queensland Rifle Association (NQRA, the same initials as the North Queensland Racing Association) was prospering by May 1886, with rules adopted from the QRA, and Colonel Blaxland rendering ‘very valuable assistance’. (Courier 11/5/1886, p. 3)

 

The sense of northern ‘camaraderie’ with the south continued. The Northern Miner pointed out, ‘We sell absolutely nothing to Brisbane and were the Southern division to disappear from the map of Queensland our markets would not be affected one whit.’ (Northern Miner 29/8/1891 p 2) In December 1891, the Northern District shifted HQ to Townsville where the NQRA was already operating.  A third military district, the Central Military District, was created, (Courier 7/12/1891, p. 5) with Rockhampton its headquarters.

 

A Central Queensland Rifle Association (CQRA, the same initials as the Central Queensland Racing Association) was founded on 26 October 1894 at the Staff Office, Rockhampton. (Jackson, p. 27) Its first President was Lt-Col J. S. Armitage, soon to be appointed staff officer for the Central District. The CQRA’s first competition was in July 1895. The CQRA fell into disuse before the First World War, but was revived in the early 1920s as the Central Queensland Rifle Clubs Union. (Courier 30/3/1922, p. 4)

 

Despite the emergence of the two new rifle associations, the QRA continued to be the colony’s senior rifle-shooting organisation, responsible for Queensland’s inter-colonial and international teams. The QRA was advisor on rifle-shooting to the Defence Authorities. It was also Queensland’s senior representative at meetings of the Federal Council of Rifle Associations. Administration of rifle-shooting in Queensland grew parallel to a new administrative level between the colonies. Delegates from four colonial rifle associations operated as a defacto Federal Council at a Sydney inter-colonial match in October 1884. In an important first for Queensland, their delegates, French and Thynne, set the rules and conditions for inter-colonials for the next three years. (Courier 22/10/1884, p. 6, 10/11/1884, p. 5) Queensland’s template was successful, so delegates then proposed a Federal Council at an Adelaide inter-colonial in August 1887, and formalised its creation in Hobart in December 1888. This council was a contemporary of the Federal Council of Australasia, colonial politics’ first cooperative council, established in 1885 as a forum for Australian colonies and South Pacific islands.

QRA History Update from Bill Casey 10/7/09

According to newspaper records the Queensland Rifle Association was inaugurated at a meeting at Cowell’s Victoria Hotel, Brisbane on Wednesday, 15th May, 1861. (Courier 16/5/1861, p. 2) Its birthday makes it the oldest sporting association in Queensland. The QRA’s nearest rival, the Queensland Turf Club, appeared in July 1863. (Courier 22/7/1863, p. 3) Two years later came the Queensland Cricket Association. (Courier 6/5/1865, p. 4) 

The Brisbane Courier reported the QRA would encourage ‘rifle practise throughout the colony’, and support the volunteer movement ‘by enrolling … those whose avocations or age do not permit them to give personal service’. (Courier 16/5/1861, p. 2) The association would be ‘modelled on the plan of the National Rifle Association in Great Britain’. It would have as Patron, His Excellency, Sir George Bowen, Governor of Queensland. Its President would be the Commander of the Queensland Volunteer Rifle Corps, and President of Queensland’s Legislative Council, the Honourable Lt.-Col. Maurice Charles O’Connell.   

A Little History of Rifle Shooting

Every August, over 300 long range fullbore target rifle shooters compete in the Queensland Rifle Association ‘Queens Prize Meeting’ in a contest of endurance over seven days at Belmont Range in Brisbane.   Using both old fashioned iron sights and modern telescopes mounted on .308 calibre rifles, men and women fired shoulder to shoulder at targets over a kilometre away.   This event has been run annually since 1878, with the exception of the war years, making it the oldest Queens Prize Meeting and possibly one of the oldest sporting championships in Australia.

Target shooting is one of the oldest organized sports in Australia with records dating back to British Marines at Sydney Cove in 1788.   According to newspapers in the 1800’s, the three most popular sports in Queensland were Lacrosse, Horse Racing and Shooting.   Early competitive matches were often conducted in the grounds of local hotels with substantial prizes offered by patrons. 

In order to increase the ability of Britain’s marksmen following the Crimean War, Queen Victoria inaugurated the first Queen’s Prize Shoot by offering £250 to the best marksmen in Britain.   The first long range shooting match was held at Wimbledon in 1860 and other Commonwealth countries followed suit soon after. 

In 1860, the first Queensland Volunteer Force was formed by the Governor of the Colony and members were occasionally permitted to use the single target military range at Kelvin Grove.  Rifle Clubs flourished throughout the volunteer period and the Russo-Turkish War led many British colonies to form Rifle Associations. 

The John Oxley Library contains a copy of the first annual report of the Queensland Rifle Association for the year ending 31 December 1863 which states that the Association originated in 1860 and was formed in 1861.

According to later history books, the Queensland Rifle Association was officially constituted in 1877, securing a site for the Brisbane Rifle Range at York’s Hollow, now known as Victoria Park.   The first prize meeting was held there on the 20th – 24th August 1878 with the most important match being the Queen’s Aggregate over 200, 500 and 600 yards.   Badges were awarded to the top ten competitors and a total of £100 in prize money was distributed.   The metropolitan rifle range was moved to Toowong in 1887, then to Enoggera in 1910 and finally to Belmont in 1964.   The competition has been named the Queen’s or King’s Prize depending on the reigning monarch. 

Teams competed in the National Rifle Association matches in England at Wimbledon for the first time in 1886 and at Bisley in 1902.  In 1876, Australia competed for the Centennial trophy in the first world long range championships at the Creedmoor Range in the USA, using muzzle loaders at 800, 900 and 1000 yards.  The Palma match as it is now known is believed to be the oldest international shooting match in the world.   The Australian Rifle Team competed for the trophy in Canada in 2007 and won a Bronze medal.   The match will be hosted by the National Rifle Association of Australia at Belmont in 2011.

References:
Halls, C. 1974, Guns in Australia, Paul Hamlyn, Sydney
Holt, J.C. 1988, The Australian Bicentenary Fullbore Rifle Championships, Benalla  Printing, Victoria
Jackson, LtCol A.T. 1927, Southern Queensland Rifle Association Jubilee 1877-1927 Official Souvenir Programme
Lugs, J. 1968, A History of Shooting’ Spring Books, Middlesex