Friday, March 9, 2007

The War at Home

It was no surprise when I discovered this photo from an National Rifle Association shooting club amongst my grandfather's collection. I remember him taking me on many drives that ended up at the Anderson Gun Club when I was 8 years old or so in the late 1950's. He was an active participant in NRA shooting matches and I remember clearly his unusual bench rifle and equipment for reloading ammunition. The bench rifle, the only name that I know it by, was mounted in a vice on a stand and the shooting competition focused on the tremendous accuracy and repeatability that could be obtained from hand-loaded ammunition that was carefully weighed, measured, and assembled to obtain consistent velocity and ballistics.

My grandfather was a few years too old to fight in World War II but he served at home as a civil defense warden. So, I suspect that there may have been a relationship between his membership in the NRA and the war, and that is suggested by the photo which appears to be the early 1940's but I cannot date it with any confidence. From A Brief History of the NRA, union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate were "dismayed by the lack of marksmanship in their troops" and formed the NRA in 1871 to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis". The NRA actively promoted shooting sports programs among American youth and in 1906, 200 boys competed in matches at Sea Girt New Jersey, less than an hour from my home. Naturally, I grew to become interested in marksmanship and through the NRA and Boy Scouts of America I took several gun safety courses and became a pretty fair competitor myself, eventually joining the Purdue University Rifle Team for a brief period.

One aspect of the NRA's history that I found interesting and relevant is that during World War II the organization actively promoted firearms safety and marksmanship among police forces and industrial guards and even reloaded ammunition for guards and police officers. "The NRA's call to help arm Britain in 1940 resulted in the collection of 7,000 firearms for Britain's defense against a potential invasion from Germany. (Britain had virtually disarmed itself with a series of gun control laws enacted between World War I and World War II)."

This particular photo does not look like the Anderson Gun Club as I remember it. Perhaps it is the Cicero Gun Club as indicated on the gun case in the foreground.

1 comment:

Blue Dog said...

According to my mother, the gentleman on stage left is named Cox and worked at Guide Lamp in Anderson Indiana.