from: The Galaxy, August 1876
by: Frederick Whittaker
A HUNDRED years ago there was no doubt as to the nationality of the rifleman. He was peculiar to the only republics then existing, America and Switzerland. The Swiss, until very recently, have changed little in their habits and weapons. The short Yager rifle, with its two grooves and heavy bullet, has retained its superiority for the short-range work of the mountain side, where a chamois must be stopped with a large wound if you hope to save him. Outside of the mountains the shotgun has been the hunting weapon of all who shoot at all, and rifle shooting has been held in small repute.
In America there has been, on the other hand, a great change of habits. Step by step with the advance of civilization, the use of the rifle has disappeared from the old and settled States, passing away to the west and southwest, but lingering in the valleys of the Alleghany ridges, while the borderers of the extreme west only retain it within the march of the bison columns and Indian raiding parties. The revival of the rifle as a weapon in these late days has been accompanied with considerable change in its form and manner of use, consequent on the new role it has to play. The rifle of the last century, both in Europe and America, was first a hunting weapon, and only secondly an implement of war. The American rifle, long and heavy, carrying a bullet hardly larger than a pea, had a special value for our old trappers and frontiersmen. It enabled them to carry a great many rounds in small compass, and to start out for a summer’s trip, like the trappers of the Northwestern Fur Company, with a pound of powder and four pounds of lead for their whole provision, allowing two shots a day for six months. Its aim, within a hundred and fifty yards or so, was amazingly accurate, and the stories of squirrels shot in the eye on a tree top, or of “driving the nail” into a tree with a bullet, at one hundred paces, were no exaggerations. With such a tiny bullet it was necessary to shoot close, and touch brain or heart of the game every time, when dinner depended on success.
The invention in France of the carabine a la tige and Minié rifle, and the subsequent spread of rifle practice, had a very different origin. Modern rifles, and especially breech-loaders and long-range guns, are primarily weapons of war, only secondarily hunting weapons. They originated in the necessity, in Algeria, of keeping the Arabs at a long distance, by using weapons of greater range than the desert riders possessed; and every step in their manufacture has proceeded in the same direction, length of range, latterly combined with rapidity of fire. As the range of the new pieces increased so did their accuracy. Obviously it is no use having a gun that will carry a bullet half a mile to kill, unless it can also put that bullet into the space of a man’s breadth; and a man, half a mile off, looks no larger than a squirrel on a tree-top. This will explain why the modern rifles are termed “arms of precision.” They are so to a degree of marvellous delicacy; and it is on this delicacy of manufacture and result that the present science of rifle shooting depends.
In the old days it took a long while to make a good marksman. Every one learned by experience and rule of thumb. The boy destined to become a hunter used to lug out his father’s heavy rifle to the woods, exercise his patience and craft to get within safe distance of his game unseen, then rest his piece on a log or stone, take a dead aim on the unconscious animal, and fire. As he grew older all his spare cash went for powder and lead, and he practised firing at a mark, with a rough guess at the distance, till by slow degrees and after many misses he became a successful shot, and finally a sure one.
This method, however, is only practicable in wild or mountainous countries, where there is a safe background to stop the stray bullets. In a thickly settled country, as a means for the instruction of large masses of men, it would occasion innumerable accidents, the stray bullets roaming on their wilful way all over the country. It was the necessity of some other method of ” teaching the young idea how to shoot” that developed the modern system, first in France, then in England, finally in America (Wingate’s ” Manual of Rifle Practice.” Fifth Edition. New York: W. C. & F. P. Church.) The difference between it and the old practice is that, instead of firing away many shots, and learning by missing how to hit, the rifleman, instructed on the new system, learns how to shoot before he is allowed to fire at a target, and if carefully taught by a competent instructor, will seldom fail to hit the target somewhere the first time he tries, and will improve in accuracy with every shot.
In France this system did not at first reach the same perfection which it has attained in other countries. It was mainly confined to the instruction of a special corps of marksmen – the Chasseurs de Vincennes – and was not applied to the general teaching of the army and people. In England, however, the Hythe Musketry School developed such valuable results to the army that the people in their turn took hold of it, and soon beat the soldiers with their own weapons. The great “French invasion scare ” of 1859 called forth the volunteer movement in England, and within a year from the first initiation of that movement the National Rifle Association of Great Britain was organized, Wimbledon purchased, the English rifle contests fairly inaugurated, and the device of the new society was justified by success. The arms of the British National Rifle Association represent a long bowman of the days of Cressy and Agincourt on one side, flanked by a rifleman of the volunteers with his short piece on the other. The modern exemplar of the old British marksman soon became as expert as his prototype.
The English rifle movement had lasted fully ten years, and was beginning to be an old story, before any notice was taken of it in America. The Prussians adopted a different system, more resembling that of the Swiss, beginning by firing full charges from a rest, and developed in the Sadowa campaign a very respectable degree of proficiency. The triumph of the breech-loader in that campaign compelled its universal introduction elsewhere; but still the science of rifle practice had made little progress outside of England. The English riflemen swept all the prizes on the continent, so that it was difficult longer to find them any opponents. The Swiss, who visited Wimbledon at its opening and took many short-range prizes, were very soon beaten out of the field on their own ground, while at long range they were never expert. All this time the Americans, outside of Canada, were perfectly indifferent to the new movement. The country passed through a great war, wherein every variety of rifle, muzzle-loading, breech-loading, telescope-sighted, and plain, was used; and still there was no effort to improve the marksmanship of the nation. While a few special corps of sharpshooters on both sides, with heavy telescope rifles, developed marvellous skill in the trenches before Petersburg and Vicksburg shooting from a dead rest, the ordinary run of the Northern volunteers blazed away their ammunition in blissful ignorance of where their bullets were going. In the Southern armies the case was a little different, but even there the marksmanship was greatly overrated by foreign observers, not themselves practical rifle shots. As a rule, their fire at a long range was very little superior to that of the Northern troops at the close of the war; and 1866 found us practically a nation of “duffers,” as far as general exactitude of aim went.
At the close of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, the American rifle movement took its rise in a series of articles, written for the only military paper of the country, by a militia officer. They appeared in the “Army and Navy Journal,” and were written by Mr. George W. Wingate, a young lawyer of New York city. The history of the movement from the time when Wingate first published his articles to the time of the triumphs of Creedmoor and Dollymount is one of persistent effort against universal apathy. The only class that encouraged the attempt at first was the citizen soldiery of a single city, and even their support was by no means general. The first meeting for the formation of a rifle club was abortive, from the lack of sufficient numbers to constitute a legal quorum, and it was only on a second attempt that the club was formed. The first President of the “National Rifle Association,” as it was called, was General Ambrose E. Burnside, who made a very good figure-head, but under whose leadership nothing was accomplished. It was not till the second year of its existence that any real progress was made. Then, by the efforts of the new President, Colonel Church of the “Army and Navy Journal,” and the Secretary, Mr. George W. Wingate, the New York Legislature of 1872 was induced to appropriate $25,000 for the purchase of a range near New York city, the Association agreeing to raise $5,000 on its part. Staten Island, Westchester county, and the lines of railroad leading to New York were then explored to find a suitable location, but for some time in vain. Proprietors held their land too high, and distrusted the effects of the new movement. They imagined that a rifle range would hurt their property, and confounded its influence with that of a race-track, thinking it would attract crowds of gamblers and roughs. It is difficult to name a place in the vicinity of New York that was not visited with unfavorable results till the committee thought of the plains of Long Island.
It is well known that Long Island has remained in a practically undeveloped state for many years. After leaving Brooklyn, the number of towns of any size on the island is very few, compared with other places in the vicinity of New York. A few sportsmen visit the back villages for duck shooting in the season, but for most of the year it is practically a wilderness. Out on the flat plains in the interior, pierced by the North Side railroad, lived a farmer named Creed, with plenty of land, but little money. The committee came across this man. and finally effected a bargain with him whereby he was to sell them seventy acres of land for the purpose of a range. There was no village there, not even a station; but the railroad company agreed to make a stopping place, and it was finally resolved that there the range should be placed, so that the National Rifle Association should become an established institution. Then came the question of a name for the new range. The place was an open, desolate field, with coarse, scanty grass and brambles – a veritable moor. The first owner’s name was Creed, in whose family the property had been for generations. Hence by a happy inspiration and coincidence arose the now famous appellation, and “Creedmoor ” became the name of the new range, destined within two short years to be as famous as Wimbledon.
The first year of the existence of Creedmoor was uneventful, and attracted but little public attention. It was opened in the spring of 1873 with a few matches, chiefly at short range, the competitors being almost exclusively National Guardsmen, and few in number. The public interest in Creedmoor was slight, and the shooting poor when compared with that of Wimbledon. The idea of a contest with the men of the other side was not entertained save as a vague possibility, after eight or ten years’ constant practice. The first season, however, witnessed the formation of a small club of enthusiasts, an offshoot of the parent association, which was destined to create a wonderful revolution within a single year. Colonel George W. Wingate, then lately appointed on the staff of the Brooklyn division of militia, with a few others, organized the “Amateur Club ” of New York city. This club was started for the purpose of uniting that outside element of sport which had hitherto been absent at Creedmoor. Contests and rifles there during 1873 were almost exclusively military, confined to members of the militia or men shooting with their rifles. The few “any rifle” competitions were offhand at 200 yards, where the sporting has little if any advantage over the military rifle. In military matters as a people Americans take little interest. Self-preservation in the days of the great rebellion seemingly altered this state of things for a while, but the close of the war witnessed a rapid cooling of the old military enthusiasm, a matter made evident by the yearly disbandments and consolidations of the militia regiments in all the States. This reaction is going on to-day as rapidly as ever, and in 1873 it was shown by the small support afforded to Creedmoor as long as it remained a military institution.
Wingate and a few like him were clear-sighted enough to appreciate this lack of spirit, and to recognize that it must be remedied by another spirit more popular in its nature. Few men love soldiering for itself, but almost every man and very many women like the excitement of “sport,” and to the “sporting” spirit the Amateur Club appealed. It was designed to cultivate the use of the sporting rifle, and to develop marksmanship as an amusement, with no ulterior military purpose. This being the case, the Amateur Club speedily became a thriving institution, and many men joined it who would never have been caught in a militia regiment.
The hunting spirit is one that is very active in the Anglo-Saxon race. It crops out in the boy of almost every nature, and is only stifled in the man by the pressure of hard necessity. The military spirit in boy and man is generally a matter of personal vanity, love of brilliant uniforms and martial music. Very few love the real fighting business of a soldier’s life. But taste for “sport,” in its varieties of shooting, fishing, and riding, is inherent in all. The most staid and sober of money-getting citizens shows it as plainly as the wildest boy as soon as he has acquired sufficient money to retire from business or do as he pleases. One starts a sailboat, another a pair of trotters, a third goes fishing, a fourth shoots; but in all the spirit is the same, the love of “sport,” of the various degrees of excitement involved in physical exercise, or in struggling to gain a visible prize of some sort. This being the case with the participants in any given sport, there is another element which has always been found necessary to give life and public interest to its pursuit. That is, the element of contest. Barnum the showman, in his “Life,” tells a story that illustrates it very strongly.
He was then at the commencement of his curious career, running a small theatre in Philadelphia. His grand card was a gymnast who performed on the horizontal bar, and the gymnast failed to draw anything but a small attendance. One night he heard a man hiss his performer. The man was in a front seat, and Barnum watched him. After the show was over for the night he approached the man, and asked him why he hissed. It turned out that the scornful one was a gymnast himself, and thought he could do better than the performer. The astute showman instantly made him an offer to engage him for an athletic contest against his own man. He advertised the contest, and on the night in question the house was packed with the supporters and partisans of the two men, betting on their favorites. The result was a successful engagement, and a lesson to the showman which he never forgot.
Illustration: Creedmoor 1876.
The element of contest in the American rifle movement made its appearance in the winter of 1873 from an unexpected quarter, and its coming on the scene was the signal for the first dawn of substantial interest and success to the National Rifle Association. Soon after the organization of the British Rifle Association, Lord Elcho, a wealthy English nobleman, had presented for yearly competition at Wimbledon a huge shield of silver, elaborately chased. This shield was to be shot for every year by three ”teams” of eight men each, one from England, one from Scotland, the last from Ireland. These teams were annually selected from the very best shots of the kingdoms, the victors of minor matches, after prolonged contests, to guide in their selection. Each man was to fire fifteen shots at 800 yards, as many at 900, and as many more at 1,000 yards, at a target the size of a group of men, and having a bull’s eye the size of two men sitting down side by side. The total number of shots, 360 for each team, and the number of points possible, according to the average distance of the shots from the centre of this target, made this contest a very fair proof of excellence in marksmanship. There was little room for luck or chance. The winning team was undoubtedly the best, and the extent of its victory was easily gauged by the number of points made over its competitors in a possible 1,440.
The absolute dimensions of the target were as follows: “bull’s eye,” three feet square, “centre,” six feet square (the bull’s eye in the middle of it), “outer,” each end of the target, six feet high by three feet wide. The whole target was twelve feet by six. The Elcho shield contests had taken place every July for ten years. The first tune England carried it off, then Scotland, then England, then Scotland, then England three times, then Scotland, then England twice, till at last, in 1873, Ireland’s team took it for the first time. Then, elated with this sudden victory, the Irish marksmen, panting for new laurels, having beaten England and Scotland, wanted to be champions of the world. So they sent over to America a polite invitation for the Yankees to meet them in a friendly match to decide the championship of the world. The invitation came to the National Rifle Association, and was by no means welcome. The directors were keenly sensible of the “greenness” of all their shots, and for these veterans to invite them to a contest seemed like mockery. No one wanted to accept the invitation. Like Jeff Davis, they wanted to be “let alone,” and were perfectly willing to acknowledge their inferiority to the Irish. Then it was that the Amateur Club came to the rescue, picked up the glove, and volunteered to meet the Irish champions in a match at Creedmoor. It must be admitted that there was quaking in the American camp. We had not been too lucky in our late athletic contests with the parent country. Our Harvard boat crew had been decisively defeated by Oxford; our Atlanta boat club distanced by the London men; our Ten Broek’s horses had made little figure in English races. In a word, American sporting stock was “down,” British “up.” That we should beat the Irish team, which had recently conquered England, seemed impossible. The Amateur Club itself did not hope for victory, but only to make a respectable show in the fight. And so the spring of 1874 was ushered in, with a heavy contest on our hands, and, as it seemed, a hopeless one.
The spring meeting of 1874 at Creedmoor, however, developed a change in public feeling. It was better attended, and the shooting was better. The daily papers began to notice the matches, and finally it became a regular part of their duty to have a man at Creedmoor every day. The summer wore on, and the contests for places on the soon-to-be-famous ” American team” were shot at Creedmoor. Invitations were printed in the daily papers and published over the United States for the renowned riflemen of “the plains” to come and take places on the team. The response was scanty. The contests opened, and less than thirty men took part in them, all members of the Amateur Club, all city men in business. It became evident that the Amateur Club would have to fight single-handed, and make good shots by practice, since the frontiersmen, with all their vaunted skill, could not be induced to come. The group of city men went to work, and after a few trials the team was selected. Only one, John Bodine,was an old rifleman; two, Hepburn and Yale, were foremen of the respective gun factories of Remington and Sharps. Of the other three, one, Dakin, was a retired merchant with gray hair, a militia general, and a man who fired his first shot at Creedmoor the previous fall. The next was Fulton, a young civil engineer, just beginning to shoot. The last was Gildersleeve, a young lawyer, who had been a volunteer during the war, and was then Lieutenant Colonel of the Twelfth New York Militia, in which Fulton was a Lieutenant. The team captain was George W. Wingate. The professional riflemen, keepers of shooting galleries, did not acquire places on the team, though some were in the reserve. It was early resolved, therefore, to confine the team to six instead of eight, as the reserve at command was so small. Every additional man on the team gave a chance to the veteran Irish shots, as it was perceived that the victory would depend, not on the best, but the poorest shots of each side.Illustration: Practice at Creedmoor.
Then the selected team went to work and practised in earnest, and great anxiety was felt to know what the Irish were doing. July passed, and with it came the news of the Elcho shield contest, and that the Irish had lost the first place, which was taken by Scotland. That was some encouragement. In a campaign prestige is a mighty force, and had the Irish come over as winners of the shield, the nerves of our men must have suffered from the moral effect of meeting the supposed invincibles.
The average score of the winners of the Elcho shield matches in ten years was about eighty per cent. of the possible total. Once or twice it had reached eighty-four, then sunk to seventy-seven or eight. So we began to calculate percentages every day, and toward the end of July and middle of August found our average risen to sixty-six per cent. Then, slowly but surely, it rose, till the gap remaining to be closed was only some five per cent., and then the Irish team arrived. Now indeed public interest was aroused, and the daily papers contained reports of every day’s practice. Then came the junketing with the Irish riflemen, who were taken to see all the sights in New York, while the little team went on practising, and at last Irish and Americans practised side by side. And then, wonderful to relate, it happened that the renowned Irish team was completely outshot by the Americans, and when the daily papers published the reports of the scores, it began to be doubted whether the match would be so one-sided after all. The eventful day arrived, and for the first time in its history Creedmoor witnessed a crowd of over five thousand people, with numbers of ladies, all come to see the grand match.
There was no doubt now of the popularity of rifle shooting. The national vanity was aroused; the element of contest introduced into the sport, and public interest was fully engaged. Every daily paper of note was represented, and the results of the match telegraphed far and wide; while the “Herald” devoted a whole page to cuts of the targets made by each rifleman at the different ranges.
The result of that match is well known. Victory hung trembling in the balance all day. The Irish team showed that they had not done anything like their best at practice. The Americans began well with a handsome lead at the shortest range, but their veteran antagonists steadily gained on them at 900 yards, and at 1,000 yards got abreast, and finally passed them. Then came the exciting time of all, as the crowd watched the last few shots fired, as the balance wavered to and fro. The Irish finished first with a heavy lead. One of the most trusted men of the American team had “gone to pieces” on the second range, owing to a glass of champagne at lunch. In vain did Fulton roll up the highest score ever made in such a contest. The misses of the unlucky one had almost ruined our chances. At last Fulton stopped. He had made thirty-six bull’s eyes and nine centres, with never a miss, in forty-five shots. Only one shot remained to be fired on our side, and still the Irish were three points ahead. If that shot at 1,000 yards proved a bull’s eye, we had the victory by one point. If it was anything else, we were beaten. The bull’s eye then counted four, centre three, outer two. If the last man made a centre, the match was lost. Being a “tie,” it would be decided by the points made at the longest range, and the Irish had beaten us entirely at 1,000 yards.
The last shot was fired by John Bodine, thenceforth justly named “Old Reliable”; a tall, gaunt old man with bronzed face and iron gray hair. Shave off his little side whiskers and dress him in a hunting shirt, and he would have passed for old Natty Bumppo, the dead shot of Fenimore Cooper’s tales. He came quietly forward and lay down on the ground, rifle in hand, and drew his sight on the dim black spot more than half a mile away. Remember, you who think a three-foot bull’s eye a huge mark, that a thousand yards off that bull’s eye looks no larger than a spot of ink three-hundredths of an inch in diameter looks to you if you place it one yard from your eye; about the size of the “period ” at the end of this sentence, as you now read your magazine, the page being about a foot from your eye. It is a visible spot, and that is all. Remember further that Bodine’s bullet was not going straight on that bull’s eye, but seventy-five feet up in, air, thence descending on the target, just as you play a stream of water from a garden hose. Remember lastly that the difference between his striking that bull’s eye and missing the target altogether was a tremor which should move his front sight one-hundredth of an inch; that on his shot depended victory or defeat for America; that he knew it; that the excited crowd knew it, and then judge the strain on his nerves. Quietly Old Reliable took his aim, and pulled the trigger. Away went the bullet singing on its way, every one listening intently for three or four seconds, till “clap!” came the welcome sound, as the lead flattened on the iron target. “He’s on any way,” was the excited murmur, and then how eagerly every one watched for the disk of the marker to rise from the pit under the target and proclaim the value of the shot. If a black disk came up, it was an outer, counting two, and the match was lost. If a red disk came up, it was a centre, three, the match a tie, and the Americans defeated.
At last came up a great white disk, hiding the bull’s eye, and the crowd made a yell and rushed for Bodine, carrying him off in triumph. The match was ended and victory was won – hardly won, almost a defeat, but victory for all that. Of course there was an excuse for the vanquished. One of their best shots, Milner, had fired by mistake at the wrong target, made a bull’s eye, and had it scored as a, miss. Had he not made that mistake, his party would still have gained the victory. On the other hand, it was argued that but for the indiscretion of the American unlucky one, who in his hospitality to his Irish friends drank that solitary toast to old Ireland, America would have made a much higher score, so that accidents were more than balanced. The actual result of the victory was that the art of long-range rifle shooting became a national boast, and the future of Creedmoor was assured. Had the match resulted in defeat, it is more than probable that our mercurial and easily dispirited people would have abandoned the sport in disgust. As it was, we had beaten the victors of the Elcho shield; beaten them by scores never approached in the best Elcho shield matches, and had acquired a national reputation which it behooved us to maintain.
Thenceforward to the present day the American rifle movement has prospered. The challenge of the Irish to shoot a return match in Ireland was accepted, and the Dollymount victory assured the final success of American rifle practice as a national amusement. Strange to say, however, it was not till that decisive victory was won that the rifle movement made any decided progress outside of New York city. The closeness of the Creedmoor contest deterred outsiders from trying the new sport, and when the spring of 1875 opened, and trials for places on the new American team were inaugurated, the number of competitors was almost as small as in 1874. Only a single outsider, a young lawyer from Orange county, made a respectable figure in the contests, and secured a place on the new team. Otherwise it was composed of the same men that shot in 1874. Hepburn, the Remington’s foreman, went out of the team, and Roswell C. Coleman, the young lawyer mentioned, came in, so that the team numbered Fulton, Gildersleeve, Dakin, Bodine, Yale, and Coleman, with Bruce, Canfleld, and Ballard, all New Yorkers, as reserve. The western men still held aloof.
In the fall and winter of 1874, however, the new movement made some progress by the formation of country rifle clubs. The history of all was nearly the same. A single enthusiast called a meeting, collected a few kindred spirits, started a short range in the fields, had a few matches, attracted more people, and finally procured a range, where shooting could be practised at five or six hundred yards. The beginnings were generally ludicrously small. For instance, the American Rifle Association of Westchester county, which now possesses Glendrake Range, commenced with a public meeting at which fourteen men and three ladies were present. With six members, on a capital of eighteen dollars, it started a match on Thanksgiving Day, and having cleared some fifty dollars, held a second match on Christmas Day, which cleared nearly two hundred, and decided its success. The Yonkers Rifle Association was started by Major Shonnard with an attendance of only eleven people, and now holds Morsemere Range, with a handsome list of members, having one of the finest teams of “midrange” marksmen in the country. The Chicago Rifle Association started with five or six members, almost all lawyers and other professional men, and has sent a representative into the present American team, while its own team has made as high as 90 per cent. of the possible score in long contests.
All over the United States, and into South America as well, the new movement began to spread, and the Dollymount victory of 1875 gave it a final impetus. This time there was no accident, and no doubt of the success. The American team won a complete and decisive victory over the Irish by 29 points, and the contest closed on higher scores for both sides than had ever before been made. It scared the English, and the Americans had the honor of being practically barred out of team contests at Wimbledon that year. They won an equally decisive victory, however, in the Elcho shield match of that meeting, for they were permitted to “coach” the Irish team, and their pupils won the shield on better scores than had ever been made in that celebrated match. They developed too in the Dollymount contest the last crowning excellence of American rifle shooting, which is certain to give them the victory in all future contests against any team not using the same system. This was the “unity” system of team shooting. Small diagrams of the targets are kept beside the marksmen in this method, and each shot is “spotted” with a telescope and marked on the diagram so as to indicate without any talking the amount of error caused by the wind, to enable each marksman to correct himself by his next neighbor’s experience. That system was first introduced in the Dollymount match by the team captain Gildersleeve, and has been ever since fairly denominated the “American system.”
Since the Dollymount victory, the American rifle movement has made still more rapid strides. The California, Nevada, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island Rifle Associations have been founded, and possess handsome ranges. Baltimore has just started its club, New Orleans has another, Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama, have followed suit, Richmond has its coterie of marksmen, Saratoga its club, while the line of the Hudson River Railroad counts at least four ranges, at Yonkers, Irvington, Poughkeepsie, and Hudson. The sport has fairly “taken hold.”
It only remains to say a few words as to the international matches of the present year, and our chances therein, to close the subject, without wearying the unprofessional reader with dry details of technical points. The contests for places on the American team of 1876 have just closed, with the following results. The team will be composed of eight men, all good and true, with a reserve of four. We are no longer compelled to rely on the “immortal six.” The only members of the teams of 1874 and 1875 who will shoot in the team of 1876 are Dakin, Fulton, and Yale. The rest will be new men. Bodine rests on his laurels, Gildersleeve has shot his way into a popularity that has made him a judge, with a salary of $14,000 a year; Coleman has gone to work at his law books once more; Hepburn is satisfied to make that queen of weapons the “Creedmoor Rifle” without spending his time shooting it. The team of 1876, soon to be famous, will comprise strange names, and the average proportion of the possible score which the whole team can be relied on to make is shown in the preliminary contests to be at least eighty-three per cent. The Irish, in their contests at Dundalk, and the Scotch at Cow Glen, have so far made an average of eighty per cent, only, but it must be remembered that the contests were shot in wind and rain storms, while the Creedmoor trials have been in beautiful summer weather. The indications are that the contest will be closer than the figures seem at first sight to warrant, and that the scores of 1876 will excel those of previous years as much as those of Dollymount excelled all that went before.