Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Every animal, except the human animal, teaches its children the art of self-defense."

 [The Evening World, New York, Saturday, May 17, 1919. Final Edition, Pg. 11]

 Can a Girl Shoot Straight?
Yes! And These Girls Prove It!

Forty-One Girls From Twenty-Six States, at School Here in New York,
Under Tutelage of Miss June Houghton, Crack Shot, Have Learned
to Hit the Bull's-Eye--One 365 Times Out of 375 Tries!

Marguerite Mooers Marshall

Copyright, 1919, by The Press Publishing Co.
(The New York Evening World)


   We may have lived through the world's last war; let us hope we have. But that is no reason why every girl should not learn to shoot, declares Miss June Houghton,  crack markswoman and international trophv winner. In fact, Miss Haughton sees at least ten good reasons why girls should be trained carefully to load, aim and fire a rifle. "The American Girl," she says, "should shoot--

1. "To train her eye.
2. "To steady her hand.
3. "To co-ordinate eye and hand.
4. "To protect herself against burglars.
5. "To protect herself against mashers.
6. "To protect herself against Bolsheviki
7. "To make herself beautiful and well.
8. "To lose a silly fear of firearms.
9. "To acquire a now and delightful pastime.
10. "To be a better chum to her husband."

   I met Miss Haughton at the Salvation Army headquarters, No. 680 Fifth Avenue, for, like the society women, the tired business men and everybody else, she is going to pitch in next week and help put across the Army's Home Service Fund Drive for $13,000,000. On "Dollars for Doughnuts" day, she will shoot holes through doughnuts on the steps of the Public and the Treasury Building in Wall Street, said doughnuts to be sold later for the "dough" that is negotiable coin of the realm. And she is imparting her skill to young sub-debs at the Scudder School on West 72d Street, some of whom made remarkable records the other day in a trophy shoot held at the New York Athletic Gun Club, Travers Island. There are forty-one girls in the shooting course, from twenty-six States. She also has a class for women on the roof of her apartment house on Riverside Drive, for which she has a special permit.

   "A girl," she told me, "can learn to shoot just as easily as a boy, and I think it is the most practical training in the world.

   "Every animal, except the human animal, teaches its children the art of self-defense. Yet many of our boys went into the army absolutely ignorant of how to handle a gun. As for our girls, how few of them are trained to defend themselves against peril? Yet in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the fact that she knows how to use a gun will be sufficient defense for a woman. She will lose her absurd fear of firearms, and she will be able to handle them without accident.

   "I can teach a girl to shoot in three lessons. After that practice the thing necessary, At the Scudder school the course in rifle shooting comprises but ten periods, yet my highest score girl this year, Miss Margaret Marston, made 365 out of a possible 375."

   Other winners In the recent trophy shoot at Travers Island are Miss Hanley, Miss Grace Marston, Miss Janice Newburger, Miss Mary Ditmars, Miss Marion Zeth.

   "Must a girl be unusually strong and muscular in order to handle a rifle effectively?" I asked Miss Haughton.

   "Not if she has been trained to handle it," she replied. "A gun, you know, is balanced so that its weight may be manipulated easily by a person skilled in its use. A few of the girls who came to me are unusually frail, and for them I have special exercises to strengthen their arms, fingers and backs. Also, before the girl handles a gun at all, I drill her in lifting her shoulder, as she must do when she aims and fires. If the shoulder is not lifted the head must be lowered--and that is the instinctive but incorrect gesture of the untaught markswoman."

   There are, Miss Haughton explains, exactly eight correct motions to be made In firing a rifle. Hero they are, in their order:

  1. Place right hand on small part of stock.
  2. Balance and lift gun with left hand on magazine grip,
  3. With thumb on hammer and finger on trigger, unlock safety catch.
  4. Bring back magazine grip and raise gun to shoulder, preparing position.
  5. Close magazine grip, automatically leaving gun ready for firing.
  6. Aim and fire.
  7. Drop gun to the wasteline, locking safety catch.
  8. Lay gun down properly, so as not to hit sights.

   One of Miss Haughton's reasons why we all should shoot puzzled me. "How," I asked, "does it make one beautiful?"

   "If you shoot you learn how to breathe and stand correctly," she replied. "Also the muscles of shoulder, arm and torso are brought into play and the waistline is kept normal, and fat does not accumulate around shoulders and chest. The markswoman will be outdoors a great deal, talking long tramps and breathing freash, pure air. So she will keep her complexion better and longer than other women.

   "You have no idea what a sense of protection a woman has when she knows she is qualified to use a gun in an emergency."

   As Miss Haughton spoke I recalled the confession of an American woman in the current Atlantic Monthly. She lives near Seattle, and during the recent riots so happily checked by Major Hansen, she made herslf a vow that when anarchy and Americanism contend with each other she personally--despite gray hair and a rheumatic back--is going to settle with at least three Reds. She has the family horse pistol cleaned, oiled and ready--more power to her!

   "However, the most important reasons why I advocate guns for girls," she concluded, "are the benefits they will gain in health and poise and nerve-control, the enjoyment they will derive from shooting and the good comradship the sport promotes between men and women."

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