By 1918, it was common to hear the pop, pop, pop of gun fire on the lakefront, the sound of which was muffled by the big lake that absorbed and deadened the explosive sound of firing.
The Chicagoans were enjoying a sport started by Charles E. Davies, an avid grouse hunter, who invented a shooting game in 1915 using live pigeons. In 1926, a contest was held to name the sport. Gertrude Hurlbutt won the contest with the name “Skeet,” which is derived from the Scandinavian word for shoot.
|Lincoln Park Gun Club, Chicago, Illinois. 1929|
The Park District took over the property in 1934 and the club was open to the public.
|The Lincoln Park Gun Club, Chicago, Illinois. 1948|
By the 1940s, Skeet was used by the U.S. military to teach novice gunners the principle of leading and timing flying targets.
In February 1991, then Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris sued the club for allegedly polluting the lake with lead shot. The Chicago Park District immediately shut down the club until it could prove its activities were safe and also insisted it pay to have the lakefront dredged. Members charged that the shutdown was not due to pollution, but because of guns.
The gun club filed suit against the park district; however their suit was dismissed. The following summer, most of the club's buildings were demolished by the park district.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.