Gun- fitter to Annie Oakley
Along with the introduction of the shooting school in the late 19th century came a more scientific approach to gun fitting, which resulted in the development of the try-gun.
The try-gun began life as the measurement gun, a gun with an adjustable stock that could be varied to suit the individual shooter, but which was not actually capable of firing.
The measurement gun was a useful tool, but using one in the shop rarely translated well into the field, when shooters were encumbered by jackets and the like. An actual try-gun that could be fired was a far better system. It was difficult to convert the measurement gun into a trygun that could fire and yet also offer a multitude of adjustments, and during the late 19th century there were a great many try-gun patents, the first being granted to William Palmer Jones in 1889. A flurry followed, such as Boss & Co.’s patent of 1892 and Henry Holland’s patent of 1900.
Henry Thorn, ever the prolific inventor, took out a Charles Lancaster patent for a try-gun in patent no. 5688 of April 15, 1890. The comb (A) could be adjusted both laterally and vertically. The heel plate (B) could be similarly adjusted and the length of the stock could be varied, too. However, there was no provision for adjustment at the head of the stock.
Henry Thorn was well known as a successful gun-fitter and one of his greatest claims to fame was that he fitted Annie Oakley with a pair of 20 bores when she came to London in 1887 as the star of