Monday, August 30, 2010

Skeet Range

                  President Eisenhower              President George H.W. Bush and son Jeb on the Camp David Skeet Range

President Eisenhower installed the skeet range at Camp David in the 1950s.   According to the Trap and Skeet Shooting for Fun book, he spent much time trying to improve his shooting skills on the range.  He noted that his best score was 20 out of 25 targets.  This March 1960 Eisenhower diary references a couple trips to the skeet range.

As this March 1960 photo shows, sometimes President Eisenhower would practice shooting outside the Aspen Lodge


President Kennedy with David Niven and Ben Bradlee shooting skeet at Camp David in 1963







Many presidents and their guests have enjoyed practicing their skills shooting clay birds on the skeet range over the years.  This 1970 newspaper article describes a visit to Camp David by an "exuberant" 21-year old Prince Charles who "easily bested" David Eisenhower at skeet shooting, one of his favorite sports.

Steve and Susan Ford at the Camp David Skeet Range on Labor Day Weekend in 1974

I came across a website with a message board that described an incident at the Camp David skeet range during the Reagan era:
"Reminds me of the story my buddy told me that happened while he was a Marine stationed at Camp David during the Reagan years. One day VP Bush and his sons showed up and wanted to go out to the range to shoot. My buddy was charged with assembling the presidential shotguns and ammo and they proceeded to shoot. Well, one of the sons (I can’t remember which one but IT WAS NOT our latest President), placed a different gauge shot shell into the 12 gauge and squeezed off. According to Mike, he could have been killed but apparently got dusted up a bit. Well, the CO wanted to throw the book at Mike for somehow getting different shells mixed with the guns but Old man Bush stepped in and said to forget the whole matter."
I tend to believe this account since I found a separate reference to Jeb Bush narrowly escaping injury at the Camp David skeet range when the barrel of a Remington shotgun exploded.


President Barack Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.
 
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

2013 UPDATE:  In a 2013 interview with The New Republic, when asked if he ever fired a gun, President Obama replied "Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time. Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there."  This claim generated some controversy, as noted in the Fact Checker blog in the Washington Post. At the time, no photos had surfaced of the President shooting skeet except the one on my White House parody site, which was briefly posted by The New Republic and then quickly deleted.  The White House released the above photo on February 2, 2013.


Google Maps view of the Camp David Skeet Range

I wrote a related post about how the satellite view of the skeet range has changed over the years.



Sources:  Camp David Tour; US Navy; The White House; Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library; Cecil Stoughton: Portrait of Camelot -A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House; Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library; Trap and Skeet Shooting For Fun; Rome News-Tribune; Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission; Google Maps; The New Republic

20 comments:

  1. The story of "the shotgun incident" with V.P. Bush and sons is absolutely true. I was a Marine guard at Camp David at that time. I was coming on duty at the same time the SOG came into the guardhouse with the shotgun and told us what had just happened. I actually held the shotgun in question, it was a 12 gauge custom made European skeet gun. One of the "Bush Boys" had put a 20 gauge shell in by mistake, it peeled the barrel from the chamber about 5 to 6 inches up the barrel. We all had a good laugh about that. I believe it was Jeb but I don't remember for sure. Jeb and George W. were the ones at the range that day,but no one was hurt just shaken up. As far as the Marines at the range, it wasn't the ones mentioned in the message board. John Anna was a "boot" and Mike "Miller Lite" was a L/Cpl at the time. Unless they policed the range afterwards. The SOG was the Rangemaster at the Skeet range that day. This is one of the stories I tell friends about my Camp David days.

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    1. Interesting... Thanks for the comment. If you are ever interested in writing a guest post on this blog about some of your Camp David experiences, let me know.

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    2. can you ask them if it's true the potus today does in fact shoot once in a while?

      thanks

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  2. Where are the pictures of Barry shooting a skeet? Surely that photo op would be available. Quick find those pics before they are manufactured and then made available! But then,"What difference does it make?"

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    1. I see one of him shooting pool. Usually he just shoots his mouth off. I am betting he has never stepped foot on the skeet range must less ever pulled the trigger on a gun.

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    2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/02/02/white-house-posts-photo-of-obama-skeet-shooting/

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    3. Hmmm... the picture of Obama doesn't have a fence in the background. Are they sure he was shooting skeet?

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  3. if the president says he skeet shoots at camp david, why would you not believe him? isn't this the same president who as senator obama voted against raising the debt ceiling? isn't this the same obama who said campaigning in 2007 that he would cut the deficit in half his first term? isn't this the same barack obama who said if, after passing the so called recovery act of 2009, unemployment was not down to 6%, he would be a one term president? is this not the same obama who said he would end the Afghanistan war? yet, 3 times as many of our brave soldiers have died in 4 years than they did in 7 years under bush, because of obama's misguided and mismanaged war. why would you not believe him?

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    1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/02/02/white-house-posts-photo-of-obama-skeet-shooting/


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  4. A 20 gauge shell is less powerful than a 12 gauge shell, are you sure it wasn't a matter of a 12 gauge shell being loaded into a 20 gauge shot gun? That would do damage to a gun chambered to fire the less powerful 20 gauge.

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    1. Because the 20 gauge shell goes deeper into a 12 gauge gun, then when a 12 is put in behind it....BOOOOM!!
      That's why 20 gauge shells are yellow.

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  5. No, a 20 gauge loaded into a 12 barrel slips part way down and it appears there is no shell loaded. Then if the shooter puts a 12 in the seemingly empty chamber and fires, the 20 acts as an obstruction. The barrel goes boom! Not uncommon. !2 will not fit in 20. Never mix 12 and 20 shells.

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  6. There are several issues with the photo of Obama shooting... First off having shot at least 10000 shotgun rounds in my life, I have never seen a cloud of smoke come out of my gun that large... Maybe I have just missed it but I doubt it. If there are visible gasses coming out of the top vents, it would be more plausable if there were very straight edges on the first couple inches. The gas would be escaping at several hundred feet per second and it wouldn't immediately billow. Last and most phony is the total lack of recoil evident. With his cheek firmly placed on the stock, there should be some stretching of the skin on his cheek. When I shoot trap loads, there is still enough recoil for me to have a bruise on my cheek if I shoot a hundred rounds. There is absolutely no pushing of his shoulder or evidence of the gun moving. I would argue that he was pictured holding a shotgun and the smoke was added.

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    1. I agree with you on most of these points. However I located a high resolution copy of the image and the barrel is definitely jerking up and back if you really zoom in on it. [ http://i.huffpost.com/gen/971716/original.jpg ]

      My problem is like others have stated, that a 12-gauge is going to really slam his arm and face the way he's holding it. The gun is a Browning Citori, probably a "Superlight Feather" which could be a 12 gauge. OR....it's part of a Citori Lightning Feather Combo which is a 20/28 set. If he's firing the 28 gauge, it would explain a lot.

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  7. Not to mention how high the butt of the gun is on his shoulder. Would leave some nasty marks and possible damage to the clavical. The recoil would knock the gun off his shoulder and his nose would be smashed into the gun. Plus his eyes were aiming about 5-6inches under the barrel. This pic is a fake or staged and photo shopped no doubt in my mind. Petty, Small and Political I expect nothing less from this little man!!

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    1. I don't care for his politics, but there is nothing that uncommon about how he is holding the shotgun. Spend some time at a skeet or trap range and see for yourself. It is not that uncommon to shoulder a gun like that if the comb is too low. That is why the better comp guns have adjustable combs.

      As far as where his eyes are looking, his face is obviously under recoil. Video yourself and see where your head ends up during and after recoil.

      And no, shooting a gun like that is not going to do any damage to your shoulder unless you already have something wrong with your shoulder. My daughter's Beretta has a too low comb and regularly shoots it like that. If she can handle 50 rounds of 12g a day several days a week, surely a grown man could too.

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  8. The problem with feeding a 20 gauge shell into a 12 gauge shotgun is that the 20 gauge is smaller in diameter, just small enough to fall into the 12 gauge barrel, but with rim just big enough to be held in its chamber. Essentially, it's just barely in the barrel. If you open the gun, it will look like there is nothing loaded, so you are tempted to feed in another 12 gauge round. Now you have a 12 gauge round, with a 20 gauge just ahead of it, a sure ticket to blowing the barrel.

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  9. I was just wondering why Remington manuals were so detailed regarding 12-20 risks...

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  10. Thanks for these wonderful videos. It's some sort of gun history.

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  11. There are vent tube on each side of the barrell. Where is the third cloud of smoke. Zoom in.

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