Tag Archives: navy clays shooting

Fantail shooting

Growing up in Pascagoula, I had a neighbor that was an old GM2 (who one day became a GM3 out of the blue) who would regale and amaze me with sea tales of guns big and small. One weekend, he had a load of rifles and shotguns in his van that he had brought home to clean– from a small arms locker somewhere– and I dutifully helped him with that. Now, these weren’t Uncle’s guns, they were Browning A5s, bolt-action hunting rifles, plinkers, and the like. He said they were personal guns stored on ship. Before the weekend was over I helped him load them back up to take back to the Singing River Island.

Hey, it was the early 1980s, what can I say? Different time, I guess.

We’ve talked about non-standard weapons in lockers at sea before, for instance, trap guns for MWR use underway, and there are lots of images floating around the NHHC and NARA of unusual small arms being used informally.

Such as this:

Official caption: “A member of the Marine detachment assigned to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) prepares to fire an M1911 .45-caliber pistol during small arms practice from the ship’s fantail.” Of course, the First Sgt. is using a Browning Hi-Power, likely a personally-owned gun. NARA DN-SC-87-05848

With all this being said, check out this circa 1976 commercial Browning Hi-Power target model that we recently got at the shop:

The story from the owner is that he bought it new and often carried it on duty with the Navy in lieu of a signed-out M1911. An aviator, he carried it while flying King Ranch nighttime poacher patrols in the wilds of NAS Kingsville in 1982-83, then used it on in-port watches on board the USS Lexington (AVT-16) in the 1980s. Or so goes the story, anyway.

Hey, it was the early 1980s.

Bluejackets and scatterguns

A thin but undeniable thread throughout U.S. Naval history is getting in a little bit of MW&R while underway via some shooting sports, primarily with shotguns. Now to be clear, I am not talking about stubby riot guns used in security and by response teams but rather long-barreled field guns.

While many ships in the 19th Century carried a few such smoke poles for use by hunting parties to add some variety to the cook’s pot, in modern times these firearms have been more relegated to use in shooting clays.

Sidewheel gunboat USS Miami 1864-65: After a shooting trip ashore, officers of the gunboat Miami relax on deck with the hounds, circa 1864-65. Note officer with shotgun and game bag, with two hunting dogs NH 60987

A hunting party from USS NEWARK (C-1) in the ruins of a Spanish building on Windward Point, entrance to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 3 September 1898– although it looks like they are armed primarily with M1895 Lee Navy rifles. NH 80791

NH 119234 Shotgun practice aboard USS UTAH -BB-31, in 1911. Note the mix of sailors in flat caps and dixie cups as well as the mix of both SXS double-barrel shotguns and at least one pump, which looks like an early Winchester

Another Utah 1911 shot. Note the sailor with the handheld pigeon thrower NH 119233

Utah NH 119235

A double-barrel shotgun-armed and appropriately safari-costumed Lt. JG Pat Henry, JR., USN, boar-hunting on Palawan, Philippine Islands, circa 1936. Henry was an aviator attached to USS AUGUSTA (CA-31) at the time, flying Vought O2U Corsair floatplanes, and would retire after WWII as a captain. Note the M1903-armed bluejacket accompanying him. NH 78385

USS Chicago (CG-11): Captain S.H. Moore is seen skeet shooting on the fantail, February 1965 NH 55151

During a lull in Vietnam combat ops in the Gulf of Tonkin, the deck of USS HOEL (DDG-13) becomes a skeet range, December 1966. USN 1119308

During a lull in Vietnam combat ops in the Gulf of Tonkin, the deck of USS HOEL (DDG-13) becomes a skeet range, December 1966. USN 1119308

A crew member uses a Remington 1100 12-gauge shotgun to shoot clay targets during skeet shooting practice on the fantail of the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63). 1993 DN-ST-93-01525

A Remington 870 Wingmaster 12-gauge shotgun, two Remington 1100 12-gauge shotguns, boxes of shells and clay targets are laid out on the fantail of the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63) in preparation for skeet shooting practice. 1993 DN-ST-93-01524

U.S. Navy Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Robert Goode, left, and Chief Gunner?s Mate Blair Pack inspect 12-gauge shotguns during a Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation program skeet shoot on the flight deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) Nov. 28, 2010. The shotguns look to be Remington 870 Express models. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell, U.S. Navy/Released)

Seaman Alonzo Bender, boatswain’s mate (left), fires a 12-gauge shotgun during morale, welfare, and recreation skeet shoot on the flight deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor is part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, which is transiting the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

While the ships of the future are still in the artist’s rendering stage, hopefully, they may have a sporting shotgun or two onboard– using biodegradable clay pigeons and non-toxic bismuth shotshells, of course.