A few years ago some undergraduates of this college, who took an interest in fine rifle-shooting, formed the Harvard College Rifle Club, an organization which for a time contributed its full share to the recreation of the students; but with the graduation of its original members the club seemed to lose vitality, and in '82 it gave up all struggle for existence and became extinct.
Yet it seemed somewhat strange that such a healthful and exciting sport has been allowed to drop out of the list of college pastimes, for the art of skillful rifle-shooting ought to appeal to the support of our students for many reasons.
In the first place it should be remembered that skill in the use of the rifle is distinctively an American attribute; then, too, rifle-shooting is a sport which is as yet free from all taint of professionalism; it is a sport which is free from the dangerous overexertion which renders foot-ball and boating objectionable to many; and it is also a means whereby many men can obtain invigorating out-door exercise, who are debarred by inferior physique from engaging in the muscular sports, though it must be well understood that no man can hope to become a good shot unless his muscles have been well hardened by exercise, and his nerve got into good form by steady living and sufficient sleep.
Another argument can be advanced which seems particularly applicable to the case in hand; namely, the use of the rifle is of great benefit in strengthening the eyesight, and what could be a more beneficial change for a man who has spent an hour over a text-book in crabbed German type, than to spend another hour in the open air striving to plant his bullets in the eight-inch bullseye, 200 yards from where he stands?
It seems strange that America, the very birth-place of rifle-shooting, should be outstripped by England in the adoption of the sport by colleges and schools, yet it is a well known fact that, at the great annual meetings of the National Rifle Association of Great Britian, the teams from Eton, Harrow, and Rugby roll up excellent scores, and make a most creditable showing on the score cards.
There are now but few American colleges which can put a team before the butts, the Institute of Technology, and the University of California being the only two now registered in the Rifle Manual.
At Yale, however, one of the features of the new athletic grounds is a rifle range, and a club may have been formed there since the issue of the last list of clubs.
Business men and members of the profesions hold ritle shooting in steadily increasing favor, as is shown by the register of the National Rifle Association of America; which contains the names of 315 clubs, scattered all over the state and territories.
In Massachusetts this sport has always been exceedingly popular, and every Saturday the range of the Massachusetts Rifle Association, at Walnut Hill, is occupied by an enthusiastic gathering of gentlemen, whose rivalry for high places on the score sheet results in the production of magnificent scores.
Perhaps it is best to put forth the strongest argument for this pastime at the end of our article; here it is, and it ought to appeal directly to every Harvard man,-rifle shooting is a self-sustaining sport, there are no subscription friends required to foster and keep it alive, and though the victories of a rifle team could bring credit to the college; yet, to play for those victories, the college would not be obliged to subscribe a cent in addition to its already too numerous burdens.
Let it be hoped then that the few words here written may arouse some interest in this manly but semi-forgotten sport, and that some other student-rifleman may contribute some suggestions for the formation of a club, to these columns.