Friday, January 14, 2022

Dartmouth's First Gun Club

Photograph of the 1910-1911 Dartmouth Gun ClubNext week, Special Collections will facilitate a Writing 3 class session that explores archival materials related to Dartmouth's historic relationship with the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. In preparation for the visit, we had the opportunity to explore letters and photographs documenting the founding of the Dartmouth Gun Club. Most of us are familiar with The Dartmouth Outing Club and may have even heard of its founder, Fred Harris, who was a member of the class of 1911. In addition to bringing alpine skiing to campus as a sport, Harris also introduced trap shooting. In a letter to the editors of the student newspaper, Harris stated that "Trap shooting has found favor among the students of this College. Its spectacular characteristics appeal to the undergraduate mind. There is a snap, a life, and vigor to it that can not help but make it flourish here in the future."

Handwritten rules for the Dartmouth Gun ClubAlongside a photograph of Harris and the inaugural shooting team, a Dartmouth Gun Club scrapbook from 1910-11 also contains a handwritten set of three rules to govern the use of firearms in the club: first, no rifle or shotgun shall be fired when anyone is in front of the firing line; second, that no gun shall be loaded until the shooter steps to the firing line; and third, that "no gun shall be pointed toward any human being. Whether the gun is loaded or not does not affect this rule in the least." These rules seem sensible enough to us, and we trust that some version of them is still in effect today at the Dartmouth Outing Club's shooting range, located near the Dartmouth Organic Farm.

To look through the earliest scrapbook of the Dartmouth Gun Club, come to Special Collections and ask to see Box 6245 from the Dartmouth Outing Club's records (DO-1).