The history of the Hampshire Rifle Association (HRA) is somewhat shrouded in mystery because only fragmentary records are available prior to 1945.
The first Prize Meeting was probably about 1880, based on a copy of the 48th annual meeting programme dated 1928, and assuming that this event was held throughout WWI without a break. If that is not true, 1875 is a more probable formation date of the HRA.
There is a copy of the 1924 revised Rules; from that it seems that the HRA originally covered both .22 and .303 calibres.
From the information available it seems that little has changed over the years. References to cups still competed for at the annual meeting are in the programme for the 1928 meeting held on 9 June. This meeting was held on the "Tipnor Ranges" at Portsmouth, indicating that the name was spelt differently then. This meeting was open to members of Hampshire RA; competitors fired 2 sighters and 7 rounds to count at distances of 200, 500 and 600 yards. The Humphrey and The Lord Lieutenant's cups are two that are mentioned.
The history of some of the Association's trophies is as follows:
- The Excellent was presented by HMS Excellent.
- The Heygate Vernon was presented and named after Dr Heygate Vernon GM, GC a past HRA President.
- The Solomons was presented by Alderman Solomons.
- The Humphrey was presented by the late Sir William Humphrey, Bart., K.C.B.
- The Symmonds was presented by Lt W.H. Symmonds RN.
- The Wooldings is in memory of Charles Cunningham and was first presented in the 2002 meeting.
- The Chairman's was called the The Range Officers Cup; it was presented by A.D.C. James.
- The Tandy Spoon was presented by the Wickham Rifle Club in 1960 for the highest placed HRA member in the Queen's final.
HRA and the Inter-Counties Matches
In 1983 the HRA initiated the Inter-Counties Meeting. The prime movers of the event were Arthur Clarke, Bill Hanna and Dr Chris Hall. Their idea was to promote team shooting and team coaching; this original aim has been an outstanding success having helped produce coaches both at County and International level.
The original sponsor of the event was the National Westminster Bank for three years; then the mantle was then taken over by Barclays Bank for a further three years. This did not cover all the costs and further money was raised by advertising in the programme. After those six years the event was handed over to the NRA.
The first Inter-Counties meeting consisted of only 15 county teams. On the Saturday there was an individual event at 300 yards followed by a match at 300, 500 and 600 yards, with a buffet dinner being provided by the sponsors. The Sunday consisted of a match at 800, 900 and 1000 yards followed by a prize giving and buffet in a marquee behind the 1000 yards firing point.
After 31 years the format is similar but the Sunday shoot is now only at 900 and 1000 yards. The number of teams has risen to 30 plus. There is a limit of 25 county teams for the long range match, so the top 25 from the Saturday match shoot at long range; the remainder shoot again at short range.