Lothian Smallbore Shooting Association: The Association's origins, development and purposes are set out here.
A Bit of History . . .
The Association was formed in 1906, during the period at the beginning of the 20th century which saw the founding of many shooting clubs and associations all over the United Kingdom. Shooting of all kinds was encouraged by the Government at that time, at the instigation of Earl Roberts who had despaired at the lack of marksmanship of British soldiers in the Boer War. Its aims and purposes then were much the same as they are now, namely to provide a local mechanism to encourage the development of shooting skills. However, the difference nowadays is that these skills are no longer of a military nature but relate only to the sport of smallbore target rifle shooting and the Association provides such competitions for the local smallbore rifle clubs.
When formed the Association took the name of Edinburgh and Midlothian Association of Civilian Rifle Clubs and it consisted of six clubs. The first Hon. Sec. was Mr James Stevenson of The Park Brewery Edinburgh. By 1908, reports from the annual meeting indicate that more clubs had made enquiries with the Association, with an additional 13 from large works and firms intending to join.
The number of clubs by 1910 meant that 2 leagues were required. The teams were – Abbey & Holyrood Breweries i and ii, Bankers, Bellevue, St Bernard’s, Citizens i and ii, City Service, Civil Service, Duddingston, Edinburgh Roperie, Heriot Brewery, Insurance, Law, Masonic, Newington, Newtongrange, Park Brewery i and ii, Parkside, St Ronans, Thistle, United and Edinburgh and District Tramways Company.
That original name evolved into the Edinburgh & Midlothian Association of Miniature Rifle Clubs and then to the Edinburgh and Midlothian Smallbore Rifle Association. Unfortunately it is not known in what years these changes took place, but there’s evidence that the last one might have been in the late 1940s as there are extant medals with that name engraved dated 1950. It changed to the current name in 1977 at the time of a reorganisation of local government that year in order to widen its scope to include the whole of the newly-created Lothian Region which combined the old West, Mid and East Lothian counties. The opportunity was also taken to include air weapons in the shooting disciplines covered in line with a growing demand (which has since dissipated alarmingly).
Unfortunately not much is known about the early years of the Association up to the 1960s as records have been lost. The thinking is that minutes and records were all put into a bank or lawyer’s office for safe keeping and have just been forgotten about. However, we have a history of regularly producing fine marksmen and women in prone, air rifle and 3P, and clubs whose stars have risen and waned on both the UK and Scottish shooting scenes. Edinburgh Citizens RC was a most formidable club for many years from the 1930s to the 1960s, as was EU Alumni some years later in the 1990s. Several of our trophies date from the early 1900s and are most impressive.
The SMRC (now NSRA)’s annual ‘Scottish’ event took place at New Howe Dean Range, Liberton, Edinburgh in 1925. Of local interest were four events involving competitors from Midlothian:
The Midlothian Championship was won by A Naysmith (Newtongrange) 294;
The Midlothian Inexpert was won by J H Purves (Edinburgh Citizens) 197;
The Midlothian Ladies was won by Miss B Baird (Penicuik) 97.
The Midlothian (100 yards) won by J G Swanson (Lasswade) 195.
The Association has no shooting facilities of its own, although up to the mid-1950’s it had (or at least had the use of) an outdoor range in Blackford Glen in Edinburgh (the range referred to above) and many shooters in those days travelled there in the summer evenings by tram and foot (openly carrying their rifles and ammunition – nobody worried about that sort of thing then). This range was eventually abandoned after years of trouble and damage caused by vandalism. The butts are still visible though. In later years the Association’s outdoor competitions were held on Balerno & Currie R.C.’s outdoor range near Balerno and then at Musselburgh R.C.’s range, but, since these ranges became defunct, there has been no outdoor range in Lothian Region and that situation still exists to this day despite efforts by the Management Committee to find a new site.
If anyone reading this knows of a piece of flat or flattish land approximately 125m long by at least 30m wide, with or without a natural backstop such as a steep hill or a quarry face, within 20 minutes or so of Edinburgh which might be made available for a smallbore range, then please contact the Site Administrator.
(My thanks to contributor Chris O’Brien for supplying extra information he gleaned from the Scotsman newspaper archives. See the Shoulder-to-Shoulder league archive pages for further historical info on that competition.)