The 1957 NRA Collegiate All-American roster was loaded with talent that would soon become household words in the smallbore shooting community, Frank Briggs, Allan Luke, R. Barry Trew, John Foster, and Lones Wigger. Chief among them was Paul E. R. Nordquist, a soft spoken Winchester 52C wielding home town boy representing George Washington University. Nordquist would again earn All-American status in 1958 before heading off to the University of Minnesota where he would earn a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1964.
Academic life and professional responsibilities did little to dampen his enthusiasm for shooting activities as he followed his passion throughout the Midwest while a student in Minnesota and later working in Saint Louis. He was named to his first Dewar Team in 1965 and would appear on the team’s roster five more times―culminating as captain in 2010. While in the Midwest he would complete the requirements for the NRA Smallbore Distinguished Position Rifleman Award in 1968 making him the 26th to achieve this honor.
He left Saint Louis in 1970 to take up a position with the Naval Research Laboratory where he worked until his retirement in 1995.
Upon returning home Nordquist set up his shooting base of operations at the Fairfax Rod and Gun Club where he continued to hone his skills with both smallbore and centerfire rifle. He was classified a High Master with the bolt gun in the 1980s.
He became Double Distinguished with the smallbore rifle in 1999 when he picked up his final step for prone and had a taste of international shoulder-to-shoulder competition as a member of the 2001 Roberts Team.
No slouch at scope shooting, the 79-year-old Nordquist lost a point in the first stage of the first match of the 2015 National Any Sight Championship and then ran 220 consecutive 10s and Xs for a 2399-186X, earning him the National Any Sight Championship and with it the U.S. Cartridge Company Trophy. By way of preparation he had taken home the Marianne Driver Trophy, awarded to the any sight only competitor at the National Smallbore Rifle Prone Championship, in 2011, 2012, and once again in 2016.
While his shooting accomplishments are worthy of note―Nordquist’s true legacy will be the numerous articles he authored about the history of the shooting sports. His well worn homemade kneeling roll and a set of his Redfield Olympic sights adorn the cover of NRA All-Americans: A Commemorative 1936-1998 while his meticulous research and writing fill the pages of The National Matches 1903-2003 The First 100 Years. His passion for the history of the sport will enrich future generations of shooters.
It is oddly serendipitous that his penultimate article, Great Moments In Sportsmanship: Vere Hamer appeared on the Shooting Sports USA website the day he passed. His last work, Coats of Many Patches, will appear posthumously in the future.
With his passing the shooting sports are diminished.