Flashback: ‘Straight Shooting Americanism’

For many years I’ve had a thing for vintage advertising, with particular interest in old firearms ads. Today’s “Flashback” highlights two from the “Remington UMC for Shooting Right” campaign, a series that ran in outdoors magazines throughout 1919.

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Illustrated with art created by F.X. Leyendecker, commissioned specifically for the purpose, the ads promoted the range of Remington products — shotguns, rifles, pistols and ammunition. Each depicted a prototypically virile American marksman or sportsman and nodded to a segment of the company’s market, from youngsters to hunters to recreational shooters.

The copy was intriguing, too. Like this, from “Straight Shooting Americanism,” which ran in the June issue of Outing magazine:

“In the onward rush of world reconstruction, with its constantly increasing demands for speed and efficiency, the American whose recreation is pistol shooting can be depended on to keep in front.

“The same dominating, well-coordinated manhood which enables him to do so is latent in most Americans. Target shooting with the pistol will bring it out — and better all-around Americanism.”

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My favorite from this evocative series has to be “More American Reserve Power,” appearing in the July 1919 Outing. Below the image of a hunter resting with his kill, a Rocky Mountain goat, this:

“The strength that comes from the hills was never worth more in this country than it is today. Both to the man himself and to all about him.

“No poison-pollen of Old World imperialism gone to seed can contaminate — nor any attempt of crowd-sickened collectivism undermine — the priceless individualism of the American who truly keeps his feet on the earth.”

This was a post-war (and pre-Depression) America licking its wounds but feeling its vigor. The Remington UMC ads reflected traditional, mainstream, unapologetically American masculinity.

I don’t know about you, but in today’s advertising I sure would like to see fewer beta males and more of that “dominating, well-coordinated manhood” — more rugged individualism and less “crowd-sickened collectivism.”

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