Col. Townsend Whelen: America's Top 20th Century Shooter (Arguably)

by
posted on July 30, 2020
whelen-3-2020a.jpg

Arguably the single most influential figure in American 20th century shooting, Col. Townsend Whelen's shooting career began in 1891 and extended, literally, to the day of his death. Whelen was a member of the U.S. Infantry Team that shot in the first National Rifle Team Match at Sea Girt, NJ, in 1903 and in 1906 he was on the Infantry Team that won the National Trophy Rifle Match.

Col. Townsend Whelen


He would remain actively involved in the National Matches throughout his military career and contributed profusely to the literature of shooting. His first book, Suggestions to Military Riflemen (1906), contained what is probably the first description in print of the rifle sling as an aid to aiming (as opposed to being simply a carrying device) and in that sense ranks as one of the most significant marksmanship publications of all time. He would remain a contributor to American Rifleman and similar publications throughout his life and was instrumental in defining the classic American design of sporter rifle stocks.

Col. Townsend Whelen, later in life


Col. Whelen was for several years Commanding Officer at Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, PA, and was later Director of Research and Development at Springfield Armory in Springfield, MA. Additionally, he was an important figure in the development of post-World War I stock design for the M1903 Springfield, including NRA and military-style stocks for the .22-caliber trainers and the full-pistol-grip type C stock adopted in 1927. He also developed and promoted the cartridge that became known as the .22 Hornet. He was also an avid outdoorsman. Col. Whelen was as much at home in the wilderness as on the rifle range and made annual forays into remote areas in pursuit of the 110 head of big game that he ultimately collected.

Not least of his accomplishments was his active involvement in the early years of the benchrest shooting game—that basic research tool of the competitive shooting sports. Col. Whelen's credo was, "Only accurate rifles are interesting," and he spent a lifetime pursuing that interest.

Col. Townsend Whelen

Col. Townsend Whelen, U.S.A. (Retired)
b. 1877 - d. 1961


See more: Wimbledon Cup History: Ben Comfort's Controversial Sighters

Latest

S W 380 Shield 1
S W 380 Shield 1

Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ: The Perfect Teaching Pistol?

Smith & Wesson’s mid-sized M&P380 Shield EZ has the perfect features for introducing students to the world of pistol shooting

Team Winchester’s Kim Rhode, Dania Vizzi Finish Strong At USA Shooting Shotgun National Championships

Team Winchester shooters Kim Rhode and Dania Vizzi shine at 2022 USA Shooting Shotgun Nationals

DC Project’s Dianna Muller On ‘Impactful’ Capitol Hill Visit: ‘We Built Bridges’

Last week, the DC Project returned to Washington, D.C., to share its pro-Second Amendment message on Capitol Hill

USA Clay Target League: 13,214 Competitors Participating In 2022 Fall Season

With more than 13,000 competitors registered, the USA Clay Target League said it has broken the participation record

2022 NRA National Matches At Camp Atterbury (Part 1)

NRA’s National Matches held for second year at Camp Atterbury, an Indiana National Guard facility located about 37 miles south of Indianapolis

New: SIG Sauer MCX-SPEAR LT

The new SIG MCX-SPEAR LT is the latest evolution of the MCX platform

Interests



Get the best of Shooting Sports USA delivered to your inbox.