The history of Western Australia tells us that competitive rifle shooting closely followed the development of the colony of Western Australia during settlement, and the rapid increase of the population created by the Gold Rush. These factors together with the urgency for a trained Volunteer Defence Corps following the departure of British Garrison troops, and the recent conflict between England and South Africa.
Australia's Defence strategists firmly believed it is far easier to train a rifleman to march, than it is to teach a soldier to shoot. Our early history also displays many incidents of members performing as soldiers on active service, as well as, assisting in the training of the Volunteer Defence Corps and providing valuable technical advice in the development of rifles and ammunitions.
Isolated club shooting activities had been conducted within Western Australia in the 1850's generally in the Goldfields area and around the South Western timber towns where itinerant workers lacked the opportunities of facilities normally provided in capital cities. The simplicity and convenience of target shooting in the open allowed for competition with a social outlet, without too much work being required to develop a venue.
Due to the concentration of people in the Goldfields and their high level of activity a Union of rifle clubs District was formed in that area before clubs joined together on the 'Coastal' plains. This created the situation where Western Australia conducted two King's Prize meetings each year between 1902 and 1909. Following that each district then held alternate meetings until 1921 when it was finally decided that this prestigious event would be held at the Swanbourne Rifle Range being the Headquarters range.
Whereas the formation of state associations in the east occurred much earlier it was not until 1901 that sufficient pressure by existing clubs, and, public concern about the readiness of our defence on the West Coast, that government sanction was finally provided. Lord Sir John Forrest, Premier, was instrumental in convincing the Department of Defence of the need to establish a basic defence strategy involving civilian rifle clubs working with the Volunteers. The inaugural meeting of the National Rifle Association of Western Australia was held on 12th July 1901.
The Association was renamed in 1965 to its current title of the West Australian Rifle Association.