Promoting Rifle Shooting in Canada since 1868
Founded on April 1st, 1868 the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association was established with the express purpose of supporting military (Militia) and civilian marksmanship in Canada.
Today's DCRA is a volunteer-run Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Association (RCAAA) supporting shooters across Canada from our National Office at Connaught Ranges in Ottawa.
On April 1st 1868, the Adjutant General of the Militia, General MacDougall, through the Honourable Minister of Militia, Sir G.E. Cartier, called a meeting in Ottawa of representatives of the Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. At this meeting it was decided to proceed with the formation of the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association and the Governor General, his Excellency Viscount Monck accepted the role of Patron of the Association, a position held to this day by the current Governor General.
The Association at that time brought together thirty three independent rifle associations. Rules, a Constitution and By-Laws were drawn up, a Council and Executive selected and a date was set for the first Annual Prize Meeting which was held at Laprairie, just outside Montreal. In excess of 900 competitors turned up to compete for $5,500 in prize money. The DCRA has continued to hold prize meetings every year since, except during the two World Wars.
The National Range of the DCRA became the Rideau Range, just behind the current location of the Russian Embassy in Ottawa. In 1897 the last Annual Prize Meeting was held on the Rideau Range since the Association had selected a more suitable location, with greater distances for long range shooting, at Rockcliffe. The site consisted of 380 acres and permitted shooting from 200 yards to 1000 yards with room for extension back to 2000.
It was also in 1897 that the DCRA constructed is own permanent accommodation at Bisley, England. Canadian Teams had been attending the Annual Matches in England since 1870, the first Team being sent by the Ontario Rifle Association. The first DCRA Team went to Wimbledon in 1872 and continued to do so each year until the matches moved to Bisley in 1889. 1997 marked the Centennial of the construction of the Macdonald Stewart Canadian Pavilion at Bisley.
The DCRA continued to hold its Annual Matches at Rockcliffe until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Teams regularly visited from England, the United States and Australia. Following the First World War the matches resumed at Rockcliffe for 1919 and 1920. During its period of occupancy at Rockcliffe the DCRA had built a large Administration building and a substantial set of quarters for competitors. Pressure began to mount to have the site of the range made available for other purposes. It was at this time that the DCRA, in conjunction with the Minister of Militia, selected the current site of the Connaught Ranges for development. Since the DCRA were required to give up their buildings at Rockcliffe, the Association was granted use of the Connaught Range in Perpetuity. The Association was called upon to design the layout of the ranges. The original plans are still in the DCRA archives.
The Connaught Ranges opened in time for the DCRA to hold its Annual Prize Meeting in 1921. With the exception of the period 1939 to 1946, the DCRA Annual Prize Meeting has been held on an annual basis at Connaught.
During the early years the Annual Prize Meetings consisted of smallbore, pistol, Service Rifle (A) (Military Targets) and Service Rifle (B) (Target Rifle Targets). Upwards of 3,000 competitors, including 800 Cadets, attended the 10 day competitions. All competitions were under the control of DCRA staff. Additionally, in those years all members of the DCRA Bisley Team were Military members, as was the majority of the membership.
In 1957 the Canadian Army introduced the FNC1 as the military rifle. DCRA members were entitled to borrow these firearms from DND for competition purposes in the Service Rifle matches. The .303 continued to be the firearm utilized for target rifle competitions. The matches continued to be conducted by DCRA staff members.
In the mid 1970's the military staff at the National Defence Headquarters decided to take over the conduct of the military Service Rifle competition. This arrangement lasted for about four years when DND approached the DCRA to again take responsibility for the conduct of the Service Rifle matches. This arrangement prevailed until the late 1980's when the Army staff again took control of the Service Rifle matches. Since that time the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration (CAFSAC) and the DCRA National Service Conditions Championships (NSCC) have been conducted conjointly.
Since before the turn of the century the DCRA has been conducting a smallbore Winter Postal Programme which has included a programme specifically dedicated to Cadet Units across Canada. This programme is still in existence and will continue for the foreseeable future.