The National Rifle Association (NRA) held their first rifle meeting in the summer of 1860. Queen Victoria offered encouragement by founding an annual prize that Volunteers competed for in two stages; the first at 300, 500 and 600 yards, and the second at 800, 900 and 1000 yards. The first stage was shot using the long Enfield, this, however, was deemed of insufficient accuracy for the second stage.
Trials were held at Hythe in May 1860 to select a suitable rifle. Mr. Whitworth and a deputation of Birmingham gun makers contested the trials, with the Whitworth rifle being the clear winner. With one exception, the Whitworth rifle continued to be issued to Queen's Prize finalists until 1871, when for the first time the match was shot throughout with breech-loaders. The Snider replaced the Enfield in the first stage, and the War Office made a special issue of Martini-Henry's for the second stage. The notable exception was in 1865, when the Rigby rifle was issued to Queen's Prize finalists.