Luke Tippins and his son John were both members of the Colchester
Rifle Club, indeed Luke being a founder member. They lived at Mistley
on the River Stour. Luke was the local schoolmaster, but his interest in
rifles and ballistics led him to leave his profession and become a full
time gunsmith. Many of his rifles and shotguns are still to be found in
this country and others have been found as far away as Australia.
Luke was a man who did not mince his words, as anyone who has read his book "Modern Rifle Shooting" will know. He was a member of all the C.R.C. teams which challenged the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, then based in Colchester Garrison, to a rifle match in 1900 after the club's inauguration.
An indication of the esteem in which Luke Tippins was held in the world of target shooting, is to be found in a contemporary report on a new book authored by Luke Tippins, in 1910, which stated
" The Rifleman's Companion.
By L. R. TIPPINS. With 6 Illustrations. Crown 8vo.
2s. 6d. net.
The author is well known as a skilled " Inter-
national " shot, who has very exceptional facilities for
experimental work. His knowledge of applied science,
joined to long experience of rifle-making, has placed
him in the front rank of rifle experts.
The new book is practical, while not neglecting
such knowledge of theory as is essential for useful
practice, and shows the rifleman how to get the
best work out of his weapon. "
Luke's son John Tippins won the national Service Rifle Championship in 1911. He was a contemporary both of L.Cpl. H. Ommundsen ( later Captain) and of Arthur Fulton of Fulton's gunsmiths of Bisley Camp. Ommundsen won the King's Prize in 1901 and was five times winner of the Service Rifle Championship between 1905 and 1913. He also won the Bisley Grand Aggregate three times and was runner up twice between 1900 and 1912. Until four years ago, Arthur Fulton was the only man to win the King's / Queen's prize three times, a feat now shared by Alain Marion. In a poll taken around 1912, John Tippins was voted by his peers to be among the 10 best marksmen in the world. Sadly both John and L.Cpl Ommundsen were to be killed in the first year of the Great War. John, aged 27, shot through the heart while fetching water for a machine gun.
An article from THE RIFLEMAN February 26, 1910.
The journal of the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs
latterly the National Small-bor Rifle Association
MEN IN MINIATURE.
No. 5.-Mr. JOHN TIPPINS.
The subject of my memoir this week is not well known to miniature shots as he has only attended about six open meetings, but as, "A chip off the old block" the son of L. R. Tippins, one of the greatest living authorities on the Service rifle, and a very fine shot himself with the Lee-Enfield, without him "Men in Miniature" would be incomplete. He started shooting at the age of sixteen with the Morris Tube in a Martini-Henry rifle at about twelve yards range. Going straight from this to the service weapon with full charge his first shoot at 200 yards was a best 34 out of 35 on the then seven-inch Bisley bull. His first shoot through the ranges was 89 and won him a Skilled Shot's Certificate.
His first shoot at Bisley the same year was in the "Ince", when he made 68 on his first ticket at each range (unlimited entries). In his first squadded shoot the same meeting he was second in "Halls Wine" with 32 and 34.
Sergeant John Tippins (right) with his Rudge Multi Motorcycle
Since then his records are too numerous to mention. He won the Championship, last year, of the North London Rifle Club, and also won the Astor Championship Competition at the Miniature N.R.A. Bisley at the Agricultural Hall (possibly in Vincent Sq., nr. Vauxhall, South London - eventually held at Alexandra Palace - Ed). For miniature shooting his favourite rifles are the Winchester Musket and the B.S.A. Martini with heavy barrel, and his pet occupation is shooting for groups, without much caring whether the group be inthe bull or not.
At rapid, disappearing, and moving TARGETS he is a marvel, and I must recount how at the Beckton Meeting last year, he really conjured a shot on to his target. The competition was ten shots rapid at fifty yards. He had a misfire, and in ejecting left the bullet in the chamber. Quick as lightning with his right hand he grabbed a live cartridge, and between his finger and thumb broke out the bullet, and holding his rifle muzzle up inserted the cartridge with priming and powder only and fired out the bullet left in the chamber, and scored a carton. I never saw anything prettier, and marvelled at his coolness. If ever we get in a tight corner, and have to take up arms, may we have many men like "Mr. John" to get us out of our difficulties.
Above: John Tippins's Essex Regiment TF army jacket covered with the many shooting badges won by him between 1905 and 1913 whilst representing England.
Photograph by John Hopes, by courtesy of the trustees of the ESSEX REGIMENT MUSEUM, Chelmsford
John Tippins' death was even reported by an Antipodean periodical.
Page six of the Melbourne (Victoria) 'Argus', carried the following piece.
"Another member of the British rifle team that
was to have visited Australia at the latter end of
last year has been killed in action, viz., Sergeant
J. Tippins (5th Essex), who received his death
wound whilst engaged in bringing water for the
Maxim gun he was working. His performances at
Bisley stamped him as a marksman of more than
ordinary ability, he having for the last six years in
succession been included in the King's final 100.
Corporal Tippins was well known amongst Austra-
lian riflemen who have visited Bisley, who speak
of him as a marksman of the highest order. He
was a son of L. R. Tippins, and 28 years of age."
See also Tippins' articles on our page of Historical notes and extracts
and the COLCHESTER RIFLE CLUB HISTORY 1900 to 2000 by MAX EARNSHAW
in which you can read more of both Luke and John Tippins
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