IRISH vs. AMERICAN RIFLE TEAMS
1) The famous Creedmoor Match of 1874 between the American and Irish national
teams came about as the result of a letter that was sent to the New York Herald and
published on November 22, 1873 entitled “Challenge to the Riflemen of America
from the Riflemen of Ireland”.
2) The two teams that competed consisted of six (6) shooters on each team.
3) The U.S. team used a combination of breech loading Remington Rolling Blocks
and Sharps rifles. The Irish team used Rigby muzzle loading rifles.
4) The reason that you see pictures or lithographs from that time period with
men shooting from a fully reclining position with the barrel of the rifle nested
between their feet is because the rules of the day dictated that “Any position
can be assumed, but no artificial rest is permitted either for the rifle or
person of the shooter.”
If you go to the home page for the Axtell Rifle Company, you will see an
excellent picture of the shooting position commonly used in Long Range shooting
during that period of time:
5) The first Creedmoor Match was won by the American team on the very last
shot of the match. The score with one shot remaining was the Irish team 931 and
the American team 930.
John Bodine, also known to many as “Old Reliable”, was a 48-year old former
Colonel in the New York Militia. When his time came to shoot, he calmly walked
to the firing line at 1,000 yards, got into his shooting position (which oddly
enough was a face-downward posture, but not using any type of crossed sticks for
support of the barrel), took aim, and fired. His shot struck the black bullseye
of the target for a score of 4 — giving the American team the victory with a
final score of 934.
6) One of the best shots on the Irish team, a 24-year old wool merchant by the
name of J. K. Milner, scored a bullseye (4) on his first shot at 900 yards —
only to discover that he had fired on the wrong target. His shot was scored a
“Miss”. That miss probably cost the Irish team the match.
7) On the day of the match, September 26, 1874, the two teams shot the 800 and
900 yard relays in the morning, took a one-hour break for lunch, and then
completed the match with the 1,000 yard relay in the afternoon.
Apparently, one of the members of the American team, General T. S. Dakin, had a
bit too much champagne with his lunch and did very poorly at 1,000 yards. He had
three (3) misses out fifteen shots at 1,000 yards. His poor performance almost
cost the U.S. team the match.
Fortunately, another member of the American team, H. Fulton, a 29-year old
surveyor, put on an outstanding performance to help make up for Dakin’s
indiscretion. Fulton scored 36 bullseyes and 9 centres in his 45 record shots —
with not a single miss. His final score, out of a possible 180 points, was 171!
By Darryl Hedges
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