May 29th, 2009

An Irish Tankard for Long-Range Marksmanship

Ireland crestAs the start of Camp Perry draws closer, we’d thought you might want to learn the history behind the trophies awarded at the National Shooting Championships. First on the agenda is the Leech Cup. The trophy is awarded to the highest-scoring competitor in one of the 1000-yard events at Camp Perry. The Leech Cup winner is determined through a 10-shot shoot off, after shooting 20 shots at 1000 yards slow-fire prone. The Leech Cup was once the only 1000-yard “any rifles” match shot with iron sights at the National Championships. Currently, there are five matches, held over four days, which count towards the National Long-Range Championship. The overall winner of these five matches receives the Thompkins Trophy as the National Long-Range Champion.

NRA Leech Cup Camp PerryThe Leech Cup, awarded during the National Matches at Camp Perry every year, is the oldest trophy offered today in competitive target shooting in the United States. Its history reaches back well over a century into the first days of the NRA itself.

In 1873, the Irish Rifle Team, flush with victory after their first win in the British National Rifle Championships, were anxious to embellish their worldwide reputation and challenged America to field a team in the spirit of international friendship. The group to answer their challenge was the Amateur Rifle Club of New York, which picked up the gauntlet and managed to beat the heavily-favored Irish at the NRA’s Creedmoor Range on Long Island in September, 1874. The American who cemented his team’s 1874 victory was Colonel John Bodine, who, needing only a hit on target to win, scored a 4-point bullseye with his last shot.

To commemorate the event, the Irish team captain, Major Arthur Blennerhassett Leech, presented the Americans with a handsomely ornate sterling silver tankard –- The Leech Cup. A masterpiece of the Irish silvermaker’s art as practiced in the Victorian period, it is heavily-embossed and surmounted by a representation of an ancient tower in ruins. The trophy has been an award for long range marksmanship ever since the “International Rifle Match” between the Irish and the Americans. The Leech Cup was presented to the NRA by the Amateur Rifle Club of New York in 1901. It was lost after the National Matches of 1913, and went missing for 14 years until being recovered in 1927.

Story courtesy NRA Blog.

Similar Posts:

Tags: , , ,