July 13th, 2019

Honor & Glory in Stunning Silver — The NRA Perpetual Tropies

Leech Cup Wimbledon Trophy Cup NRA SSUSA.org
Michelle Gallagher with Leech Cup in 2013.

Shooting Sports USA has a fascinating article about the Perpetual Trophies awarded in national-level NRA matches. The story recounts the history behind the elaborate trophies, some from the 1870s. SSUSA’s Jennifer Pearsall writes: “The pieces of wood, stone and precious metal … are more than just instant recognition of achievement. They are the link of the American shooter’s present to his or her patriotic past. As you read this legacy of the NRA ranges, their founders, and the long list of cups, bowls, and plaques, realize that the history of competitive shooting is undeniably a significant part of the foundation of this country”. Read Full Trophy Story HERE.

Leech Cup Wimbledon Trophy Cup NRA SSUSA.org
Stunners in silver. Above are the NRA Leech Cup (left) and Wimbledon Cup (right).

The NRA was co-founded by Col. William Church and Gen. George Wood Wingate (ranked Captain at the time). Both Church and Wingate hoped to improved the marksmanship skills of American soldiers. One of the newly-formed NRA’s first actions was to issue: “An Act to Establish a Rifle Range and Promote Skill in Marksmanship”. That led to the opening of the famed Creedmoor Range, with a special inaugural match in June of 1873.

Many of the awards presented in the first NRA matches were cash or firearms. Some of these firearms were heavily embellished works of art. In the very first match, a member of the 22nd New York Regiment took home a gold-mounted Winchester Model 1866 valued at $100 — big money for the time.

Leech Cup Wimbledon Trophy Cup NRA SSUSA.org
In the 1870s shooting competitions were social as well as sporting events. Ladies and gentlemen came to watch and cheer the winners. This illustration, originally from Harpers Weekly, portrays the shooters and the viewing gallery at the 1876 Grand Centennial Championship—the “Palma” Match.

The Leech Cup — A Gift from Ireland
The Leech Cup was created for the first meeting of the American and Irish shooting teams. The elaborate cup was presented by Major Arthur Leech, captain of the the Irish team, to the Amateur Rifle Club of New York. This masterpiece of Irish silver-smithing was later given to the NRA in 1901 by the New York Club. Today, the Leech Cup is the oldest trophy offered in overall NRA competitive target shooting, awarded through the National High Power Long Range Championships.

The Wimbledon Cup
The Wimbledon Trophy was a gift from the NRA of Great Britain. It was given, as a gesture of sportsmanship, after the the U.S. Team was denied the ability to compete in England’s Elcho Shield match, then limited to Britain, Scotland, and Ireland. To maintain friendly competitive relations, the British presented the Americans with a large, engraved, lion-footed tankard trophy to be awarded each year to the Champion U.S. long-distance rifleman.

Wimbledon Trophy Cup NRA SSUSA.org

Palma Trophy Facts Team Match National Camp Perry Tiffany'sThe Palma Team Trophy
Originally named the Centennial Trophy, in honor of the Centennial celebration of the independence of the United States of America, the Palma Trophy was commissioned from Tiffany’s at a cost of $1,500. The trophy was a full-sized replica of a Roman Legion standard, executed in bronze with silver and gold inlay. On the banner of the standard was the legend, “In the name of the United States of America to the Riflemen of the world”. Above the banner was an eagle, bearing in its talons a wreath of palm leaves and a plaque on which was the single word, “PALMA”, the Latin word for palm tree, which was used by the Romans to signify victory, or the ultimate in excellence.

Because the word Palma was so easily seen, the trophy soon became known as the “Palma Trophy”, and by 1878 was referred to officially by that name. The original seven and one-half foot trophy is now lost, having not been seen since at least 1954. Serving in its place is a copy which was commissioned by Dr. Herbert M. Aitken of Eau Claire, WI. The copy was made from the original Tiffany blue-prints at a cost of $32,500. Dr. Aitken has given this copy of the Palma Trophy to the NRA for use in the Palma Match. The trophy is retained by the winning team until the next Palma Match.

In 2008, the Palma Trophy was returned to the NRA, and it was decided that the trophy, once refurbished, will travel to the host nation for the match every four years, then returned to the NRA for safekeeping.

The first competition for the Palma Team was a challenge match for which the British Commonwealth nations were invited. The match was fired in 1876 at the old Creedmoor Range on Long Island as part of the Centennial celebration of the United States. Teams representing Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and the United States took part. The match is currently fired on a four-year interval.

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September 13th, 2016

Norm Crawford Wins Wimbleton Cup with Composite Barrel

Norman Crawford Proof Research Wimbleton Cup 2016 Camp Perry
Tech Milestone — Norm Crawford won the 2016 Wimbledon Cup at Camp Perry using a carbon-fiber composite barrel. That’s a first for composite barrel technology.

With a score of 200-16X, Norman Crawford won the Wimbledon Cup Match during the 2016 National Long Range Rifle Championships using a 32″ Proof Research carbon-fiber composite barrel chambered in .284 Shehane. The Wimbledon Cup Match, a prestigious 1,000-yard shooting competition, dates back to 1875. The current course of fire consists of 20 timed shots, fired from prone. Crawford’s win represents the first time in the Cup’s 141-year history that it has been won with anything other than an all-steel barrel. The Proof Research barrel features a steel core with an external multi-axis carbon wrap.

Crawford’s Wimbledon Cup win really is an important technological milestone. Crawford’s performance may encourage other competitors to consider steel/carbon composite barrels for a variety of shooting disciplines. Without question, composite technology barrels offer significant weight-savings over conventional all-steel barrels. And Crawford proved that a composite barrel can deliver winning accuracy, at least in a sling/prone discipline.

Norman Crawford Proof Research Wimbleton Cup 2016 Camp Perry

“I don’t know of anyone else in this sport using a carbon fiber [composite] barrel,” said Crawford, who has been shooting Proof composite barrels since 2013.

“The benefits over a steel barrel are that you get a larger-diameter, stiffer, faster-cooling barrel that weighs less than a standard, medium Palma-taper barrel. [There is] no real downside I’ve been able to identify in three years of shooting them. All five Proof barrels I own are capable of winning any match — providing I do my part.”

A 30-year Army vet and former Army Special Operations Sniper, Crawford has been shooting competitively since 1990. He has won many major titles, including the NRA National Long Range Championship in 2005. His 2016 Wimbledon Cup victory was his second — Norm also won the Cup in 2003. A three-time member of the U.S. Rifle Team at the World Championships, Crawford also used a Proof Research barrel to tie the national record for a 600-yard Any Gun, Any Sight competition in North Carolina last November, one of five national records he has set or tied during his shooting career.

Proof Research CEO Larry Murphy praised Crawford: “We are honored that Norm chose our barrel to go up against the best shooters in the world with. By putting our barrels to the test in intense competition, he pushes us to do our best as well.”

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