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That’s almost literally true: shoot a target, win a target would be a more accurate description of Saturday’s frivols in Massachusetts. At least the gentlemen seem to know they’re a little silly.

1830s  shooting party

Literal musketeers: Mr B, Mr K, and Drunk Tailor

Of course, this kind of event is typical of late autumn New England. My favorite version is the sqiral/skirl/sqwirl hunt.

Invitation to a squirrel hunt, 1759. MSS 9001-S , Rhode Island Historical Society

In 1759, Cousin Stafford was promised to be handsomely treated at a sqiral [sic] hunt. They would hunt for what looks like the astonishing and possibly sarcastic prize of “‘100 pound in money’ and 15 gallons of Rum and one baral of cider.” Good times in Coventry, Rhode Island that January– just not for sqirals, unless the Rum and cider were consumed before the hunt began.

Silly, in a way, though deadly for the creatures on the wrong end of the muzzle. I found this past Saturday to be suitably silly, and about the maximum level of Gun Show I can tolerate, if only because it has a greater resonance with its historical antecedants than the ritualized commemoration of battles portrayed without adhering to the turn of actual events, fortifications, or troops present. My quest for accuracy does not demand tethering turkeys as targets, and the painted wooden silhouettes with glued-on feathers presented challenging, somewhat light-hearted targets.

Silly bonnet, silly sleeves, original shawl

To finish out the silliness, sleeves o’ pouf, though hidden here under a shawl. If I’m going to keep doing these colder-weather events, I will need to invest (i.e. sew) wool shifts. I can definitely document one to Rhode Island circa 1830-1840, for whatever that’s worth. Happily, my lower half was plenty warm thanks to Mrs B’s  generous loan of a quilted petticoat (warm legs and a poufy skirt), so only my shoulders were cold by the end of the day.

Now that the last cutout has been hung and shot, and my poufy sleeves retired to the closet, I’m back to finishing up that woman’s winter waistcoat and another wool petticoat for next month. Turns out I have stocking issues I didn’t know I had– which is to say, I am in need of grippier garters (hello, mismatched wool tape!) and some quality darning time. Wool mitts may also be in my future, as I cannot locate either of my pairs of mitts– linen or wool/silk blend–among my things. I’ll be sorry not to have gloves or mittens, but as goes the documentation, so goes the frostbite and chilblains.