Wednesday, May 6

bob allen -nonmilitary camo

As a college student in the late 1930s, Bob Allen was a nationally known clay target shooter and got noticed by the U.S. Army Air Corps, which recruited top shotgun shooters. He eventually became a staff gunnery officer in the Air Force and parlayed his aerial gunner instructor duties into a combat assignment in the South Pacific.

Bob Allen Company was started in a parachute shop on the Pacific atoll of Tinian towards the end of World War II. Bob’s first product design was a long billed cap that helped keep the sun out of bomber crews’ eyes on their long flights to mainland Japan. Trading a ration of wartime Scotch in the parachute shop for each one of his prized hats, the Bob Allen Company was born. After the war, the hats found favor with shooters and soon Bob was selling hats, shooting vests, pouches and bags from the trunk of his car as he traveled the shooting circuit. Designing the first shooting vest and the first non-military camouflage pattern were just a few of Bob Allen’s “firsts”.
(the above paraphrased from and Jeff Olson's article Shooter Allen is truly a shooting star.)

This pattern was later adopted by Ducks Unlimited a membership driven charity that aims (irony alert) to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl. To quote Scott Weidensaul this is "shotgun ornithology", but that is itself consistent with J.J. Audobon's (and contemporaries) approach. Not sure myself why a skeet shooter would bother designing camo... but I love this older non-military pattern, check the duck silhouettes. You see it reflected in old LLBean chamois hunting shirts and an old Carhartt line... it has much more yellowybrown mixed in, to do with the wetlands surrounding fowl I assume.

Jacket below via ebay.

Seque below to some great LIFE archive shots (sorry...) of a skeet competition. Quick check shows Hollister Hovey has already covered the "Queen of Skeet" Pat Laursen (dead ringer for Drew Barrymore imho). For the gents it is sail-cloth khakis, broad collar shirts and long-billed hats as far as the eye can see.