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Coltautos.com Gun of the Month - September 2005
National Champion Major John W. Hession
Colt Woodsman Bullseye Match Target
Serial Number MT3069
With JWH Monogrammed Target grips

Colt Woodsman First Series Bullseye Match Target - Serial number MT3069 originally owned by Major John W. Hession.  Pistol is fitted with special checkered walnut Roper-style target grips which bear Major Hession's initials "J.W.H." inlaid in silver.  Pistol also has a trigger shoe and Roper front target sight blade.  This Match Target was manufactured in 1938, the first year of production for this model.

Colt factory letter indicates that this pistol was a single gun shipment to Major J.W. Hession c/o the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, New Haven, Connecticut on December 10, 1938.  There is a special notation in the letter that indicates the pistol was "For testing" and was charged to "Arms Selling Expense."  The gun was processed on Colt Factory Order number 8217.

Pistol was purchased at the auction of Major Hession's estate by the former owner in the late 1950s - early 1960s.  Here's the original caption from the auction listing.  The purchase price was $40.

 

Major Hession Still Serves; Crack Shot Adviser to All - Winchester Arms Representative Once Held Shooting Records From 200 to 1200 Yards -- Washington Post, July 7, 1943

Major John William (Jack) Hession
September 8, 1877 - February 1, 1962

Maj. John W. Hession, center above, was an accomplished rifle shot and Winchester's Shooting Promotion Manager.  Posted below are his obituary and American Rifleman short that chronicle his remarkable life and series of outstanding accomplishments and achievements within the sport of shooting sport.  Major Hession was truly a pioneer in the world of competitive shooting.

Close-up of Major Hession's silver inlaid "J.W.H." monogram in the center of the left grip.

Left side view of Roper style target grip showing solver inlaid monogram.


click the image for full page view
Clearwater Beach, Florida

 


click the image for full page view
American Rifleman, March 1962

 

OBITUARY - February 1, 1962

HELD MANY NATIONAL RECORDS

Maj. Jack Hession, 84,
Greatest Rifleman, Dies

Maj. John W. (Jack) Hession, 84, who some claim was the greatest rifle shot that ever squeezed the trigger, died in Clearwater yesterday. He lived in the Carlouel section of Clearwater Beach.

Hession won more than 500 matches during his long career, once held every record from 200 to 1,200 yards and was a member of 12 teams that represented the United States in competition abroad.

Once Walter Chrysler asked for a demonstration of the major’s skill and Hession promptly obliged by shooting the ashes off the auto pioneer’s cigar with a target pistol.

Less than two months ago Hession chalked up a perfect score at the Clearwater Rifle Club range with 40 straight bulleyes from 100 yards, putting 39 of the shots in the one-inch “X” ring.”

HESSION was born in 1877 at Clinton, Canada. He worked as a ballistics engineer for both the Remington Arms Co. and Winchester Co. His “beavertail” design for a gun stock – which provided a wider and less tiring grip – earned him credit for improving scores of all shooters.

Maj. Hession made the 1908 U.S. Olympic Team and in 1918 finished 63 points ahead of the runner-up in the U.S. tryouts at France for the inter-allied rifle competition.

He once clicked off 102 straight bullseyes with a .22 rifle on a 200-yard course and had 79 in a row during practice at 1,000 yards. His best competitive run was 57 at 800 yards at Camp Perry, Ohio.

During a Camp Perry match in 1913, the major scored 19 “bulls” out of 20 shots at 1,000 yards shooting across a 42-mile gale that forced him to aim 25 feet to the right of the distant target.

Hession was still winning titles in 1942, when he copped the New York State Championship hitting 43 straight bullseyes at 1,000 yards.

UNTIL LAST SUMMER the major played golf weekly at Clearwater Country Club.

He was a crack trap shot, in addition to his rifle and pistol target ability. During his younger days the major was a bicycle champion too, winning the Dunlop Trophy in 1898.

Hession moved here 15 years ago from Hew Haven, Conn. He has memberships in Episcopal Church of the Good Shepard, Dunedin; National and English Rifle Associations; Army and Navy Club, Washington, D.C.; Retired Officer Club, Clearwater, and Explorers Club.

IN MEMORIAM - March, 1962

JOHN W. HESSION 

Major John W. Hession, firearms expert, many time rifle champion and Camp Fire Club Member since 1915 died February 1st at his home in Clearwater, Florida.  He was eighty-four years old.

One of his major achievements was to set four world’s records in one day.  This he did on July 3, 1925 while competing in the Eastern Small Bore Championships at Sea Girt, New Jersey.  In accomplishing this he fires 102 shots all of which, including sighting shots, were bulls-eyes.

In the Marine Corps Cup Match held at Camp Perry, Ohio in 1913 he led a field of 600 competitors by scoring 195 out of a possible 200.

He won the British Wimbledon Cup in 1932 with a perfect score, and in 1909 registered an amazing fifty-seven consecutive bulls-eyes at 800 yards to win the Second Brigade Match at Camp Perry.

Largely self taught and with unusual natural facility for shooting he was to rise in a few years from a tyro to the point at which he developed the skill which was to make him a member of ten United States International teams.

Major Hession was not originally a professional shooter in the technical sense of the word as it was an avocation and hobby for much of his life.

Later he was employed by the Winchester Western Arms Company, Division of Olin Mathieson Corp., and at his death was a retired executive of that company.

While a member of the United States Olympic Rifle team, after competing at Bisley, England, he went with the team on a trip to Argentina where they defeated all competing South American rifle teams.

During World War II he headed the Winchester Arms Washington office and acted as consultant to the War Department on rifles and rifle ballistics.

Jack Hession, as he was known at the Camp Fire Club never lost his youthful outlook and resilience of mind.

He was a familiar sight at the outings up to a year ago and could often be seen the center of a group of men half his age holding his own in any discussion, and often entertaining the group from a large fund of humorous stories and recitations.

 

Source of Major Hession's Obituary Data and Winchester photo - Mike's Winchester Model 21 Page

Woodsman Match Target MT3069 - Right side view

Rear view of target grip, frame and sight.

Right side view of Roper style target grip.

Left side MATCH TARGET barrel marking - the First Series Woodsman Match Target pistols are often referred to as "Bulls-eye" Match Targets because they possess this mark.

Bottom of grip showing serial number and floorplate of original and correct Woodsman Match Target three line magazine with "MATCH TARGET MOD." designation.

Roper front sight.

Patent markings on the top of the barrel:

COLT'S PT.F.A.MFG.CO.HARTFORD.CT.U.S.A.
PAT. DES. 110,887

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