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Firearms, Long Range Target Shooting & Associated History

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The Volunteer movement established in 1859 was the catalyst for the creation of the National Rifle Association (NRA) later that same year, the objective of the NRA being "the encouragement of Volunteer Rifle Corps and the promotion of rifle shooting throughout Great Britain." From 1860 until 1889 the NRA held their annual rifle meeting on Wimbledon Common (it subsequently moved to Bisley where it remains to this day). With royal patronage and the daily papers and weekly-illustrated journals reporting widely on events, the 'Wimbledon fortnight' was marked for success and established as a fashionable summer attraction.  Local and regional rifle matches become commonplace and by the end of the decade of the 1860's Great Britain, with no prior tradition for rifle marksmanship, had thousands of trained riflemen.

Naturally, businessmen sought to sell their wares to these riflemen enticing them with a variety of goods to assist the aspiring marksman. With ammunition, field glasses, vernier sight adjusters, tools and other associated accoutrements the rifleman acquired, a means of carrying it all was needed. One suitable case was made by Jasper-Vale Lane, the 'Wimbledon Shooting Case':

VALE-LANE'S WIMBLEDON SHOOTING CASE. - This shooting case, invented by Mr. Vale-Lane, of Longfieet, Dorsetshire, is most conveniently arranged for containing, n a compact and accessible form, not only ammunition, but verniers, and all other requisires used in shooting. it is made in three different sizes. (Volunteer Service Gazette, Saturday 11 July 1885)

SOMETHING FOR VOLUNTEERS. – We have received a catalogue containing a description of the Wimbledon shooting case patented Mr. J. Vale-Lane, 1st Dorset Artillery Volunteers, of Poole. The case opens by pressing a pin in the lock; the front flap falls down giving place for seven or ten rounds of cartridges in loops. On the front partitions are places for verniers, paint, &c., &c., and there are partition behind for field glasses, and ammunition in packets. Major Pearse of the 4th Devon R.V. recommends every shooting man to provide himself with one of these cases and that is sure he will find the comfort of it. (Bridport News (Dorset), Friday 4 June 1886)

Newspaper advert

Volunteer Service Gazette, March 1885

Newspaper advert

Volunteer Service Gazette, May 1886

In September 1887 the following advert appeared in the Volunteer Service Gazette: "WANTED AGENTS in every Corps, for the sale of the WIMBLEDON SHOOTING CASE. Good Commission. Apply to J. VALE-LANE, Longfleet, Poole."

The 'Vale-Lane Shooting Case' has been noted as being offered as a prize in competition in 1903. An example of the case is shown below; when closed the case measures 8 inches high, 8 inches wide, and 6 inches deep (20 x 20 x 15 cm). The loops in the case illustrated are suitable for .303 cartridges.

Wimbledon shooting case

The trade label reads:

J. VALE-LANE,

INVENTOR OF THE

WIMBLEDON SHOOTING CASE.

[TRADE MARK]

BY HER MAJESTY’S LETTERS PATENT

VALE-LANE

1st Hants A.V., One of the Queen’s Sixty, & Hants County Team,

LONGFLEET,  POOLE,  DORSET

 

Jasper Vale LaneJasper Vale Lane (1857-1936)

Jasper Vale Lane was born in Guildford, Surrey, in 1857. He was a saddler by trade, having learnt his skills from his father, John Vale Lane, a master saddler (employing 3 men;1871 census). In September 1876 he married Ellen Eliza Ballett, at Battersea, London. During much of the 1880s Jasper and Ellen seem to have lived at Poole, Dorset, Ellen’s home town.

Jasper was a gunner and bandsman with the Dorset Artillery Volunteers. He appears to have been a keen marksman and represented Dorset. His skills as a saddler and knowledge of a rifleman’s needs enabled him to design a functional and practical shooting case.

The largest part Jasper’s life relates to his talents as a musician and composer; in 1882 the Dorset County Chronicle carried the following notice:

POOLE

A NEW BAND. – On Thursday evening the streets of Poole were enlivened by the strains of a newly formed drum and fife band, of 23 members, which marched through the town. The band is under the conductorship of Mr. Vale Lane, and most of the members reside at Newton, Constitution-hill. The greater part of the music played was arranged by Mr. Vale-Lane. (Dorset County Chronicle, 6 July 1882)

In the 1881 census Jasper was identified as a saddler, but by 1891 his occupation was musical director. He and his brother James started on their own with Vale-Lane's Band playing at notable functions around London and outside of London.

Jasper died at Banstead, Surrey, in 1936.


Further reading: Muzzle Loader Range Box