shooting gallery
“Grandpop showing how’s it done. Getting that leg up for extra stability. Nighttime on the Wildwood Boardwalk, New Jersey, 1952.” r/OldSchoolCool

It can be a little shocking, even for gun people, to see how common and socially accepted firearms once were in the U.S.

Shooting galleries were common carnival attractions that were basically tiny shooting ranges with various types of targets, both still and moving, that used actual firearms—usually small rimfire rifles. That’s right, in a crowded fairground, people stepped up, dropped a couple coins, and someone handed them a loaded firearm.


Some shooting galleries had extra gimmicks to drum up business, including a camera mechanism that would snap an instant souvenir photo of the shooter if they hit the bullseye.

On the r/OldSchoolCool subreddit, some users recently posted a couple of these old shooting gallery photos, and staring at them is like taking a trip back in time. Something about the candidness of the photos, taken of people who aren’t quite certain they’re going to be photographed, makes them seem hyperreal. And the quality of the black & white images taken in 1951 and 1952 is pretty remarkable, too.