Gun- fit­ter to An­nie Oak­ley

Shooting Gazette - - Great guns -

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

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