The Fort Wayne Rifle and Revolver Club has been around for more that 100 years. We have evidence that hints that as far back as 1914 there was an organized group of shooters who later became the Fort Wayne Rifle and Revolver Club, but there is a surprising lack of recorded history.
Reflecting that long history, on occasion artifacts occasionally show up that give us some insight into our ancestors. Recently an old award plaque wandered into the Bruggeman Building (the mower house) that made us do some looking. The trophy is “The Major John C. Houck Memorial Trophy”, presented by Lt. Colonel Sam L. A. Bowlin.
The trophy is a walnut plaque with a prone rifleman and a brass plate with names of individuals to whom the award was given. The trophy is in pretty good shape, but the shooter has lost the barrel of his rifle over the years. It appears to have been intermittently awarded – there is not an award noted for every year. It was first awarded in 1963 to J. H. Miller who scored 134 x 150. This was probably a 30-shot match fired on the old 5V target. By 1967 the match format had changed when Lynn Richter won the award with a 287 x 300 score, a 30 round match on the new 10X target.
By 1973 the match format had changed again when Lowell Black won with a 339 x 400 score. The award stood vacant until 1987 when Mike Grannis won it with a 294 x 300 score (another format change, back to a 30 round match). Mike recalls that the match was “ … kind of like a President’s 100 Match”. The plaque was awarded to Mike Gingher in 1990 and last awarded to John Hoham in 1991. Its whereabouts since then is a mystery until it showed up in the Bruggeman Building.
Now, who are the two individuals involved in the name and donation of the award? As of now, we don’t know a lot. We find First Lieutenant John C. Houck listed in the early 1920’s as a member of the Fort Wayne contingent of the Indiana National Guard and in 1925 there are records of him shooting in Indiana rifle and pistol matches with the Indiana Guard teams. There is evidence that by 1945 he had been promoted to Major where he served the Philippines as a company commander. The fact that the trophy is the “Major John Houck Memorial Trophy” infers that Major Houck had passed away some time prior to 1963, the date the trophy was first awarded.
Lieutenant Colonel Sam L. A. Bowlin is also a bit of a mystery. Old records show him as the Post Intelligence Officer at Fort McClellan, Alabama in late 1942. In 1965 he shows up in the Army Reserve Magazine as being on the Fifth United States Army Team that shot the first year that the Army Reserve was represented at the National Matches at Camp Perry. We know from club memories that he lived down around Decatur – but not a lot more than that.
The trophy will be mounted in the new clubhouse as a reminder of the FWRR’s heritage.