1877 International Match, Creedmoor, NY

Note the line of spectators along the left edge of the range. So… When did this come to an end? It ended when American gun owners in general, and NRA members in particular, stopped caring about such things.

“A match in Glendale Park, N.Y., in the 1880’s attracted more than 600 shooters and 30,000 spectators in one day alone. An 1898 shooting festival at that same location offered $25,000 in cash prizes.”

Adjusting for inflation, those cash prizes would be over $600,000 today.

More than 5,000 spectators schlepped their way from Manhattan on river ferries and a special rail line built to accommodate the shooting range. The candlelit train ride was far from comfortable, the Times reported in a front-page story on Sept. 27, 1874. The fans meanwhile did not necessarily come to support the home team. Irish immigrants brought pride in their native land as well.

However, they all came for the premier sporting event of the year.

“From what I’ve read and learned about it, it was just about as popular as NASCAR is today,” said Kirk Bryan, co-owner of Shiloh Sharps Rifles, of rifle shooting in the 1870s.

Why are gun owners of today failing to show the same level of interest and support? Something to consider when a gun owner that has never attended a formal shooting event or competition whines about the “anti-gun media.”