Suiting up to Shoot – Talking With the Zoot Shooters
Gangsters – love ‘em or hate ‘em – they’re part of American culture. The “Roaring 20s” were a period of idealized lawlessness, much like the Old West. It lives on as TV shows such as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and movies from The Godfather to Public Enemy keep gangsters in the forefront of our imagination.
Michigan –-(Ammoland.com)- Now the group Zoot Shooters is hoping to capture the imagination of the 1920s and 1930s with a new form of shooting competition that mixes the music, fashion and of course the guns of those bygone days.
One of the group’s founders, Jason “The Huslter” Huss, talked to use about what exactly it means to be a Zoot Shooter.
FirearmsTruth: So guns and zoot suits? Two good things that go together, and why?
Zoot Shooters: Because both are fun! Henning and I bought Auto-Ordnance 1927 A1 Thompsons and went to Colorado Mills Mall to pick out some suits at Gentleman's Collection. Nothing flashy but enough for the cool factor. Keep in mind people can wear any period costume to a Zoot Shooters' match. “Zoot suits” mark the end of the era we're trying to portray and the term rhymes with “shoot”. There is a blog about the meaning of the AZSA's name on our website.
FirearmsTruth: Re-enacting remains popular, so is this just a way to take re-enacting in a different direction with ZootShooters?
Zoot Shooters: Henning Wallgreen and I are not re-enactors nor are we historians. We like the guns from the era and think the clothing, cars and music are cool. We draw our ideas from movies such as The Untouchables, Public Enemies, Miller's Crossing and Road to Perdition. The new HBO series Boardwalk Empire is great inspiration too. We took a feeling that was inspired by Hollywood and turned it into an action shooting sport. We invite anyone to take from and put in whatever they wish with Zoot Shooters so long as they are safe and have fun!
FirearmsTruth: While World War II re-enactors like to get down and dirty and go in the woods, you guys do something different. Can you explain what the groups do?
Zoot Shooters: When we think of re-enactors, we think of people who are trying to replay actual moments in history, re-creating battles and firing blanks. Zoot Shooters is an action shooting sport. We are using real guns with live ammunition in competition. Our matches are held on shooting ranges and filled with “capers” where shooters compete against the clock for the best possible score. Our capers may be very simple courses of fire that resemble club level USPSA stages or may be very elaborate and well decorated. When we think of cops and robbers, we think of big cities. If we could use something similar to a Hollywood set, we would. In due time…
FirearmsTruth: The gangster era of course to some communities is both a blight on their history, but yet still an embrace part of the culture. Why do you think this is?
Zoot Shooters: I think it may be because people may have seen gangsters as two different things during the Prohibition Era and the years following. One as a criminal and they were. People may feel their activities still reflect poorly on their community but to me that is a stereotype. The others may have seen gangsters as “Robin Hood” types that were rebels against “the man” and in a way supported their communities if, you want to call bootlegging and murder community support.
FirearmsTruth: What is the favorite gun of your crowd? Is the infamous “Chicago Typewriter,” aka the Thompson submachine gun? Any chance members will get into other guns such as the BAR?
Zoot Shooters: We think the two most popular guns in Zoot Shooters are Tommy Guns and the 1911 variants. At first we thought they would be the standard firearms but many others started showing up at our matches and we've been learning plenty about them. Early on we had to change our rules because our minimum caliber allowance left out many guns. We are now seeing these smaller caliber guns in our matches. Our club in Massachusetts, Copicut Zooters, has been using a semi-auto BAR as guest gun in their capers. We almost had a full-auto BAR to use as a guest gun at out Founders' Club matches but its owner, a Class III dealer, sold it before we could.
Thank you to Jason for talking to us.
Peter Suciu is executive editor of FirearmsTruth.com, a website that tracks and monitors media bias against guns and our Second Amendment rights. Visit: FirearmsTruth.com