The famed United States Marine Corps bandmaster and composer John Philip Sousa had two great interests - his music and his shooting. So when the Ithaca Gun Company of New York decided to manufacture the very finest trap gun, they went to Sousa, then the first president of the American Amateur Trapshooting Association, for advice. An enthusiastic promoter of the shotgun sports, Sousa was once asked what he considered life's best gifts, and he quickly replied, "A horse, a dog, a gun and a girl - with a little music on the side."
The resulting Sousa Grade shotgun was Ithaca's finest smoothbore, inlaid with gold, profusely engraved and painstakingly stocked in the finest walnut. Only 11 were ever made, and this example was personally presented by Ithaca to John Philip Sousa. This shotgun normally resides in the Trapshooting Hall of Fame and Museum in Vandalia, Ohio, but by special loan is currently exhibited in the National Firearms Museum, along with glass shotgun targets of the period.
Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, July 2004.