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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Point and Shoot: 1925

Point and Shoot: 1925

Washington, D.C., circa 1925. "Girls' rifle team of Drexel Institute." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

IDing the rifles

[And speaking of sheer idiocy ... - Dave]

Those old rifles...

Only one of the "what rifles are they?" comments is accurate. To start with, all rifle competition has always been done using .22 caliber weapons. A very few national matches are held using higher caliber but .22 is the norm, believe me. The short stock rifles are obviously the special .22 version of the '03 Springfield, and the rolling/drop block "Martinis" are Winder muskets, based on the 1885 action. A friend of mine once owned a custom 1885 action that was chambered, believe it or not, for the old .218 Bee cartridge. The identification of the very early Winchester 52 is also interesting as the 52 is arguably defined as the best, at least American, target rifle ever made. The classic 52 story has a young guy asking an oldtimer what's so special about the 52. The old guy thinks for a few seconds then replies, "Son, there's .22s and there's 52s!"

Let's hear it for the girls

I'm surprised there's so much negativity about these young ladies. When I saw the one on the far right, my first thought was, "Leopard coat? There's a woman who's not afraid of putting some drama in her style." I'll bet she listened to jazz and could make her own bathtub gin.

Taped

Actually, the tape would have been used to improve grip. Not to hold the rifle together. Note that the barrel band is intact.

A rule of thumb. Or head.

As a high school teacher in Colorado in the early 1950s, I was the faculty leader of the rifle club. A standard rule of safety was don't point your gun at your head! Drexel must have had a new team of shooters each year.

Shot the coat myself

The one on the far right must be their instructor or adviser. Not only is she a decade older than the other people in this picture, she looks mean enough to have shot and skinned the animals for her coat all by herself.

I suspect the tags on the coats might be an access pass to the shooting range (same idea as a ski lift ticket). You wouldn't want just anybody wandering into a place where there was live ammunition. You would need a way to tell at a glance, and from a distance, who belonged and who did not. They probably all have them, just those two are pinned where you can see them in the photo. The others may not have pinned theirs on yet for the day, or already taken them off for next time.

Drexel Womens Rifle Team

The Ladies ream was still going strong when I was at Drexel in the late 1950's/early 60's. The tape on the rifle in the middle is to improve the grip of the forestock, not to hold the rifle together. They were still using the M2's when I was there.

Re: On the Far Right...

I'm thinking Keith Richards.

Chicks with guns

Hey, you know what they say. An armed society is a polite society. Betcha nobody whistled or cat-called at any girl around the Drexel campus.

On the far right...

... Bob Dylan?

From an owner of two of these rifles

From the left:

1 and 5. Obviously Springfields from the bolt throw (and barrel band sights), although my M22 MII does have a finger-grove stock.

2 and 3. Winchester Model 52 (early type with the folding ladder rear sight). Don't hassle me - I just took mine out of the gun safe to compare! The Springfields don't have the button clip release - it is a latch at the forward edge of the clip. Also, the chamber is WAY too short to be a .22 mod of an '06 action.

4 and 6. Both Winchester 1885 falling blocks - No. 6 a "Low Wall" Winder (all in .22 short). (Fortunately the lady's hose provide a good enough background to see the dropped rear of the action.) I have a 1885 "High Wall" in .22LR that is a musket stock, but I'd bet money this is a true Winder.

M*A*S*H

Is this where Klinger went through basic training?

Styles of the 20's

My mother, married in 1922, hated the hair and clothes styles so much that she destroyed the one photo that was taken to commemorate the day. I can assure you she remained stylish to her dying day but not according to whatever everyone else was wearing. I regret that so many of us tend to follow the current trend instead of thinking for ourselves.

Permanent Record

Hairstyles of the era really did nothing for them, did they.

.22 x 6

The rifles are all .22s, the Springfields are either M1922 or M2 .22 caliber training rifles. The single shots that one commenter thought was a rolling block are in fact Winchester .22 caliber "Winder" muskets built on the Winchester model 1885 action (the one on the far right is a "low wall" action. The fact that these are all .22s does little to take away from the level of marksmanship these women may have had and in fact all of the rifles are of extremely high quality.

No Slings, but No Slouches Either

The condition and variety of their rifles notwithstanding, it appears that the squad had a very good record. Drexel fielded noteworthy rifle teams all throught the '30's and '40's at least. I could not find this particular photo, but there were many articles, often with photos, about the girls' team at about this time. A selection follows.

Philadelphia Girls Becoming Marksmen
"The girl students of the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia have organized a rife team and, under the instruction of Lieut. J. P. Lyons, U.S.A., military instructor at the Institution, are rapidly becoming expert marksmen." Rock Valley Bee, 21 January 1921.

Good Rifle Teams at Drexel College
"Drexel Institute, of Philadelphia, had two wonderful rifle shooting teams the past indoor season - one of boys, the other of girls. So good was the girls' team that Capt. J. P. Lyons, the instructor, said: ‘I would like to match the girls against any boys' rifle team in the country.' When the instructor talks that way the girls must be counted on as real shots. They were. They didn't lose a match. Next season, it is more than likely that the girls will be eligible to try for the university team. Drexel won 16 of its 18 matches, lost 1 and tied 1 - with Yale. In five of its matches Drexel made perfect scores." Washington Post, 18 June 1922.

Fair Warning [photo caption]
"Girls' rifle team of Drexel Institute defeated a picked sharpshooter squad of Philadelphia police in a match." Hammond, Indiana, Times, 25 February 1926.

Man Killers

The two towards the right seem to be either Remington rolling blocks or some variant on the Sharps rifle. Including the '03 Springfields, we are talking a minimum of .30 caliber.

None of these gals seem to be toting the traditional .22 caliber rifles used in competition.

We're talking deer -- or, ulp! man-killing -- weaponry!

Rifle Types

Only type I recognize is the two M1903 Springfield rifles - second and third from the left.

Tagged

The girls #2 and #3 from the left each have a tag hanging from their coats - anyone know what that would be for?

The Importance of Impotence

Apart from the spelling, my other quibble with Vernon's comment is that a well-aimed rifle shot is not the only thing about these women that may render a man impotent or feeble-minded.

Types

Seems to be four different rifles.

Funny --

There are no men in this photograph!

No faux fur

I'd venture a guess the fur is real, kinda makes me think girlfriend on the far right is the spoiled one.

The posse

There were soon to be no stray cats or dogs left in that neighborhood. Fewer kids, too, for that matter.

They Had the Vote...

...so what else could they be coming for???

Homeland Security

Now this is what we need for protection -- Attitude and Beauty!

And then there were six....

I think, like the haircut, it's a plea for help!

Alaska huntress?

This photo can open up many snarky comments but I have to ask if any of them ended up in Alaska, maybe hunting from an aeroplane?

Bolting Away

You noticed the bolt on her rifle? What about the bolts in her neck???

Original

The Original Broad Street Bullies.

Slingless

Interesting, none of these rifles have slings.

Duct Tape?

My gunnery sergeant would not have been happy with the material condition of No. 3's weapon.

She won't take "no" for an answer.

Before computer dating, it was not uncommon for the less attractive ladies to go out and bag a husband. She needed to be a good shot as not to render him impotant or feable minded.

Not Necessarily Unsafe...

...but not as safe as it could be. I have a bolt action rifle with very similar bolts, and if the safety lever is in the "safe" position you not only can't fire the gun but can't work the bolt either to load a round. Still, the preferred method is to have the bolt open (as most of them are) when the weapons are displayed in this manner.

One might argue that they are not all pointed in a safe direction either (which you do always, even if the bolt is open and there are no rounds in the magazine). A couple of the ladies appear to have their rifles pointed right at their heads.

Firearm Safety...

The second girl from the left has the bolt on her rifle closed. Not safe unless you're in a position to fire the thing.

In today's PC world

You don't often meet a woman who's shot her own wardrobe!

By 1926

The administration had decided that showing the twin-bill of "Annie, Get Your Gun" and "The Story of Lizzie Borden" was not a great idea.

Quoting Dusty Bottoms

"Looks like someone's been down here with the ugly stick."

The Charlie Manson stare!

Third from the left. Look out for her; she's on a mission. Not a particularly friendly looking bunch of gals. If you run into them on the street, smile, nod your head and KEEP WALKING!

Take cover, Men!

"The Great Man Hunt" of 1925 is about to begin!

Ready on the Right

to wipe out the rest of the team! Looks like the fuse is VERY short!

 
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