not throwing away my shot

Trigger Warning: More views, most likely from the 1931-32 NHL season, of a visit to the Paleface Gun Club in Medford, MA. Posing porchside above that’s, from left to right, Dit Clapper, Cooney Weiland, unknown, Red Beattie, Dave Downie, and Harry Oliver. Clapper, Weiland, and Oliver would be elevated eventually to hockey’s Hall of Fame. Downie was a centreman who would see NHL ice with the ’32-33 Toronto Maple Leafs; in Boston, at this point, he was skating for the Boston Cubs, the Bruins’ CAHL affiliate. Below, that’s Fred Hitchman and Dit Clapper.

shot attempts: taking aim with the 1930s bruins

Hall-of-Fame centreman Marty Barry played a dozen distinguished years in the NHL, starting his career with the New York Americans in 1927 and featuring as a Bruin, a Red Wing, and a Canadien before he finished in 1940. He won a Lady Byng Trophy in Detroit and thrived as a goalscorer in Boston, where he also served as captain. As many prominent Bruins did in the early 1930s, he also took time away from the rink for trapshooting, taking aim at clay pigeons at the (wince) Paleface Gun Club in Medford, Massachusetts, about eight kilometres, as the puck flies, from the old Boston Garden.

The image above dates, I’m thinking, to 1931 or 32. Barry was 26 that year and topped the team in goals, scoring 21, and finished second in points behind Dit Clapper. I don’t know how his aim was on the day depicted here, though I can report that a year later, in February of 1933, he and his teammates were back at the Paleface for a 100-target shooting competition. The Bruins were coming off a 10-0 home win over Montreal that week, so you can imagine that their mood was light. Barry was well off the mark on the day, taking down 69 targets. Best among the players was defenceman Fred Hitchman, who shot a 94, and team captain Clapper, who hit 91.

No-one outaimed Bruins coach and manager Art Ross, whose score of 95 was enough to win him the prize of the dead deer seen here. Ross was also made an honorary member of the club that day, receiving an engraved gold medal. Another wince-warning is in order here: “Presented to Art H. Ross,” it read, “Honorary Member of the Paleface Gun Club — 1933. Big Chief Push ’Em In.”

everything you need in the woods


Dit Clapper, hero of hundreds of hockey games, oldest player in point of service and active up to last year as player-coach of the Bruins, is like many other athletes, an avid outdoorsman. He has shot ducks, geese, prairie chickens, pheasants, bear, deer, moose, and caribou. Wing-shooting is his favourite just as it is with many sports stars we know.

That’s Jim Hurley writing in Sport magazine in January of 1948 about the off-ice activities of the long-time Hall-of-Fame Boston winger and defenceman who’s seen above, on the right, with a duck-shooting friend, probably in the 1930s.

Sport was good enough to publish Clapper’s own “Tips To Outdoorsmen.” It’s worth reproducing them here, in the public interest:

• Err on the large side when choosing your shot. Pick a shot that will do the job and not leave cripples. I like 4’s for ducks, and have used 2’s and 0’s for geese.

• My favourite barrel length is 32 inches; it gets the stuff out there.

•  Try for a neck shot by all means on deer. It’s even more deadly than a heart shot. If you fire late, you’re apt to make a hit in the vital, high-back area.

• Have everything you need in the woods. The biggest single necessity is means of making a fire.

• A lost man can get along without food and water for days, but cold will kill him if he can’t keep himself warm overnight. Dry matches, therefore, are of the utmost importance at all times in the woods.

• Be methodical and certain; imprudence never pays. I found out, and now I know.

(Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection)