By Seth M. Vose III

It was in the summer of 1957 that Ruth and Morton Vose delivered their not quite eight-year old son Seth to Camp Sunapee in New London, New Hampshire. The boy, namely me, settled into camp life, taking well to such things as boating and camping, but not too keen on the stringent safety require- ments of swimming. He did learn to swim there, through the clever use of a pair of trunks which had a pair of airbags built in to get him over his initial nervousness. Never did take to water skiing. Too chicken!

As often happens to children at summer camp, his
experience included a life-altering event. This one was Riflery. That’s what they called the shooting program, and our boy took to it like the proverbial duck to water.

The range was in the woods, off to the left of the
administration building. A short path took one to steps which led up to a small platform which stood a good four feet off the ground. There was a bench in back, an elevated perch for the rangemaster in the middle, and in front was a space where four mattresses were set. Fifty feet away across a patch of bare dirt up a little slope stood the target stands and behind them, the backstop, cut into a small hillside with a wall of logs as the initial backstop, and behind that of course, the hillside. A wooden cabinet in the left rear corner of the platform contained the rifles, ammunition and supplies while not in use. Considering the great care the camp took in looking out for the safety of the campers it interests me now to recall that cabinet and reflect that only a couple of seconds with a pry bar would have given access to the rifles and ammo.

  There was even a selection of Remington supplied comic books for us to read as we
waited our turn. I can still remember the plot of a couple of them. A kid takes a shot at a Coyote and misses; he says “That shot was too high.” His buddy says “never mind, just load up with another of these Peter’s High Velocity .22’s.” In the last panel it says “Thanks to Peter’s High Velocity .22’s, that sheep killer was down for the count!” In another a father takes his two sons to visit an
elderly gent who is identified only as “the old man” to ask what rifles he should get for them, and of course the old man suggests Remington. This one even included instructions on how to build a basement backstop using a steel plate to direct projectiles down into a box of sand.
There was even a selection of Remington supplied comic books for us to read as we
We all know shooting is a discipline, and the camp took this to heart. The rangemaster would lay a rifle on each mattress and select four campers to shoot. Each would be
handed a small section of 2×4 with five holes drilled in it. Each hole would contain one .22 long rifle round bullet down, taken from the familiar 50-round green and red Remington cardboard boxes. We would each kneel on the mattress, put on the rifle’s sling, and then hunker down prone. Would we then start shooting? No! The rangemaster’s control over us was absolute! He would command… “Load your rifles” – and one round went into the chamber. “Close your bolts” – We did so. “Commence firing!” – We did so.
“Open your bolts” “Load your rifle; close your bolts” – and so on until all five rounds were fired. “Cease firing, lay down your rifles, bolts up, go get your targets.”

We never saw the rifle’s magazines; they were taken out to ensure we would
do nothing but single load. Their concern for safety was so great that we were not even allowed to handle the spent cartridge cases, lest some chemical residue poison us. Most of the cases flew forward off the platform into the dirt. Those that did not we flicked off to join their buddies below. Once a year at the end of the season the rangemaster took a rake and cleaned them up.

There was debate among the boys about what type of front sight insert to use. The Globe front sights offered several choices. The two we used were the circle and the lollypop. In the circle there was a disk with a hole in it, which at 50 feet appeared to be just the same size as the bull’s-eye. You would fill the hole with the black of the bull. In the lollypop, there was

Page 69 3rd Quarter 2011

a bulbous end to the post with which one covered up the bull. I was among the advocates of the circle. It interests me now to remember that no one seemed interested in the traditional square post.

Eventually I managed to win the Pro-Marksman and Junior Marksman awards. Wish I knew what became of them! I left Camp Sunapee about 1961 and went on to Camp Highfields, in East Union, Maine. There was a riflery program there; in fact I recall we used the same types of rifles, the same piece of lumber with 5 cartridge holes and similar comic books. There was one major difference though, the command was simply “Commence firing,” and we went ahead and shot all our five rounds with no other commands until the cease fire order came.

So now, fast forward 54 years. Camp Sunapee, which had existed since the 1920s, finally closed in 1986. There is a subdivi- sion now where it used to be. The only reminder is the address, Campground Road. Social pressure from parents forced most camps to give up their riflery programs. Our boy grew up, came of age, and started a gun collection. After stumbling around quite a bit making the usual costly blunders one always makes in learning what guns are collectible and which are not, I settled on .22 caliber rifles as a specialty, finding it a rich collecting field, not to mention one which could accommodate my severely limited budget. Of course, being a .22 rifle specialist I found Remland to be a target rich environment.

Now I had remembered the rifles I used at these camps as Remington 513T Matchmasters, since my father owned one and it looked exactly like the rifle I had used. In April of 2011 I went to the Gun Owners of New Hampshire Show in Concord, NH, and there purchased a copy of Gyde and Marcot’s Remington .22 rimfire rifles. On going through it I came across the 521T and realized that had to be what I had been using, as it fit me perfectly as an 8-year old boy and my father’s Model 513 would have been much too big for me.

  It was only a couple of weeks later, while poking around the internet that I found Acme Arms in Plympton, Massachusetts. On its used gun page I found a Model 521T, just like the one I’d learned to shoot with 54 years ago.

So, on May 8th, after emailing him and asking him to hold the piece, I sallied forth down the highways and byways of southern Massachusetts. After considerable time on major highways I spent the last two and a half miles on a little country road with Cranberry bogs here and there. Plympton is one of those places they describe as “if you blink, you’ll miss it!” I soon found myself in front of a private home with an almost unnoticeable little sign over the garage “Acme Arms.” A small handwritten sign informed visitors the shop was above the garage and directed me to enter the side door of the garage and up the back stairs.

So I walked through the garage, stepped up onto the landing, turned the corner, and was suddenly face to face with a large German shepherd blocking my way. I had been warned about him on the shop website. His name is Dad (interesting name for a dog). He’s the official shop greeter. After exchanging greetings with him and scratching behind his ears, he turned and led me up the stairs. Passing through a door I found myself in a decent sized room with the usual gun shop and gunsmith paraphernalia. A display case was about four feet in front of me. Behind it stood one Adam Kling, the proprietor, a large broad-shouldered man with well maintained brown beard, his torso encased in a black T-shirt. I explained who I was and he immediately unrolled a large counter pad, got the rifle out from under the counter and laid it down. I had to examine it for less than a minute before declaring “I’ll take it!”

Now for those who are unfamiliar with buying a gun in Massachusetts, things began to happen! About the only thing Massachusetts doesn’t require to buy a gun is a rectal

Page 70 3rd Quarter 2011

exam, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they added that in the near future! First, I handed over my Firearms ID Card (FID for short). This is issued by the local police after you pay $100 and submit to a background check which lasts a month. There are three levels, a regular FID, which I have,
which entitles you to have regular rifles and shotguns, a “High Cap” FID which allows you to have rifles and shotguns
with magazines over ten rounds, and a Class A License to Carry which entitles one to handguns. The regular FID is shall issue to anyone who has a clean record. The others are “May Issue,” at the personal whim of the police chief. Many chiefs are proud of the fact they approve almost none of the applications. A couple of times ago when I went to renew my FID the officer glared at my application for a few seconds, then declared in a stern voice, “No Handguns! Right?” and when I answered that yes, I had no handguns he approved my renewal without hesitation. Not content with the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, Massachusetts enacted its own in 1999.

Think having gone through all this you can simply grab the gun and go? No way! First Adam took my FID
to his desk and looked me up online. While I was waiting for him to finish this I heard a squeak behind

  me, looked back and saw Dad looking up at me, his mouth fully occupied with a large plush doggy chew toy representing some type of bovine creature. So of course I wrestled him for it for a few moments before letting him have it.

Then Adam picked up a small object trailing a wire and laid it on the counter. This is a fingerprint scanner. Yup, when I
renewed the FID the last time the police had scanned a fingerprint into their database. You scan
your fingerprint in the shop with each sale where the state’s computer compares it with
the print in the state files. If it should be unable to get a readable scan the state also
issues you a PIN. No scan and no PIN, no gun, regardless of a valid FID! When you buy several guns in one transaction a
separate scan must be done for each gun!

After several tries and wiping my hand on my shirt once, I managed to give a readable scan. Then, on to the Federal phase, the old familiar Form 4473 and the call to NICS. While I was filling out the form I could feel Dad’s nose examining my rear end in great detail. Then he went running around the shop brandishing his squeak toy. While this
was going on Adam was online reporting the sale to the State Police. Yes, Massachusetts requires registration of all firearms. The state knows you have it even before you leave the shop!

I don’t know whether to be amused or offended that the state agency which maintains the records on honest gun owners is the “Criminal History Systems Board!”

Finally, Adam made the call to NICS as per federal requirements. After handing over my money, there was one last requirement. I could not legally leave the shop without putting a trigger lock on it! This done, I shook Adam’s hand, said goodbye to Dad, and at last, off I went with my Remington.

Page 71 3rd Quarter 2011

On-line Search/Sort Journal Index

How can I submit an article for a
future issue?

How can I purchase back issues
of the RSA Journal?

On-line Journal Articles

New Journals have links to

  • From the editor
  • Classifieds
  • The Last word –