Colonel Howie took a deep interest in the Volunteers. He joined the 1st Lanark as a private in 1877, and four years later he transferred to the 3rd Lanark, receiving his commission as Lieutenant on 1 July, 1881. In this Battalion he served for the long period of 24 years, and was in command of the regiment from January 1901, till January 1905, when his term of service as Commanding Officer having expired, he retired from the Volunteers.
He was awarded the Volunteer Decoration by Queen Victoria and was appointed a Justice of the Peace.
Colonel Howie also took a considerable interest in the affairs of the Trades" House. He joined the Incorporation of Hammermen in 1886.
During his Collectorship 94 new members were enrolled, and the funds of the Incorporation were increased by £1,364. In 1908 he was elected Deacon of the Incorporation of Hammermen - the senior Incorporation in connection with the Trades" House of Glasgow.
Foreign several years he was also Chairman of the Glasgow Conservative Club.