1946 Short Film “The Making of a Shooter”
Russ Chastain 09.21.20
(Image: Screenshot from video)
Ever heard of SAAMI? That’s the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, which according to their website “was founded in 1926 at the request of the federal government and tasked with creating and publishing industry standards for safety, interchangeability, reliability and quality, coordinating technical data and promoting safe and responsible firearms use.” These days we most often see the SAAMI acronym in ammunition specs when discussing various cartridges. Well, they made an interesting film back in 1946 called “The Making of a Shooter.”
It opens with typical big-band music of the time and after a few credits shows some well-known shooters of the day: Ned Lilly, Dick Shaughnessy, Thurman Randle, and Fred Armstrong. The actual movie starts at 2:11, with a fellow in jacket & tie assembling a side-by-side shotgun in a fairly opulent-looking residence. Turns out, rich doctor dad is sending son Jimmy to the national shooting championships, in his words, “because I want you to learn how to shoot and how to handle a gun safely.”
Dad hands the young ‘un some letters of introduction which he can present to friends of his pops who will “look after” the bloke at each match. And away Jimmy goes with his sister Mary driving the family convertible!
First stop: Vandalia, Ohio for the Grand American Handicap Trap Tournament. Here Ned Lilly instructs little Jimmy on shooting without eye or ear protection, and how to swing the muzzle of his scattergun towards the camera man. After that we see some promo footage for the tournament.
At the National Skeet Championship Jimmy catches up with Dick Shaughnessy, who at least wears shooting glasses as he shows Jimmy the ropes on skeet.
From there he skedaddles to Camp Perry, Ohio for the national rifle matches, where his sister Mary will compete with a 22 rifle. Jimmy meets up with range school instructor Thurman Randle to learn about handling a bolt-action 22 rifle. Then it’s off to Mary’s match, where she (naturally) shoots perfectly, then waves the muzzle of her rifle hither & yon across her brother’s legs while leaving the firing line.
Jimmy’s “education” completed, it’s back home and then off to hunt with Daddy Warbucks. More gun safety talk and a pheasant hunt, followed by a duck hunt where pops takes off solo, leaving his spawn to hunt with guide Fred Armstrong and get his first duck.
Now we teleport to a cabin “deep in the north woods” for a big game hunt. Jimmy gets his new big game rifle — a Savage Model 99 lever-action — and learns all about it from Fred instead of his pappy.
On this hunt we again see posters hanging in the woods to remind hunters not to be idiots; this time telling them not to fire a shot unless they’re sure they’re shooting at actual game. Hmmm. Seems like a no-brainer.
Jimmy hunts again with Fred while dad wanders off with his buddy, and an incredibly conscientious messenger boy takes to the woods to find Dr. Preston (Jimmy’s dad).
As soon as Jimmy and Fred spot deer tracks, it’s okay to chamber a round. Errr…
Then the messenger boy sprains his ankle and goes to crawling along a deer trail, where Jimmy sits awaiting a deer. Oh lawdy! Well thank goodness for that poster, which prevents Jimmy from slaying the hapless telegram-toter. Whew!
A 3-shot distress signal brings dad running, and he checks out the kid’s sprained ankle before reading the telegram. Then he and Jimmy do the skedaddle on account of the medical emergency noted in the telegram, leaving the injured kid in the woods with the non-doctors. At the cabin they take plenty of time to neatly fold their clothes and talk things over… guess the telegram’s hospital emergency can wait.
Tongue-in-cheek comments aside, it’s a pretty cool flick, which helped spread the word that guns and hunting should be, and can be, safe and wholesome activities. Kinda like the new Harvest Movie these days (you can read about that by clicking here). And it’s fun to see the classic guns which were modern at that time.