For old time mid Atlantic shooters the PJ O’Hare gun store and range in Roseland, New Jersey was a favorite for many years until it closed in the mid 1980s. The business was started by Patrick J. O’Hare in the early 1900s. From time to time matches would be halted at railroad cars would be shuttled past behind the impact area. After Paddy’s death his son Francis ran the business with the assistance of noted Randle Team member Winnie Carr.
The soft-spoken Paddy O’Hare of the Irish brogue was better known to the shooting fraternity at large than any other of the thousands who have left their mark on the target shooting game of this country. He was the Al Freeland of his time. O’Hare never missed a firing of the National Matches since their inception in 1903 until he passed away in 1938. At Camp Perry, Paddy’s ruddy, friendly face became an institution.
O’Hare came to America before the turn of the last century and his shooting career dated far back of the first National Match in 1903. It was a time when small bore shooting was unknown and when it developed he was selected as a member of the first U.S. Dewar team.
Born in Ireland, Paddy’s life bridged a significant period of U.S. target shooting history. His 71 years spanned the growth from Creedmoor to Camp Perry, from the Krag to the Garand, and the Golden Age of smallbore.
Best known to the non-traveling element of the shooting fraternity through the familiar yellow-backed catalog of shooters’ supplies, in which were listed all of the little gadgets that no one else could supply, most notably the O’Hare Micrometer without which no self respecting ‘03 rifleman would be seen. Paddy’s late years were spent as an importer and manufacturer of shooting equipment.
The picture was provided by Ken Meise who also wrote, “I use to go to the store often. As you walked in there were large compartment tables with clothing either side and the counter was located straight back with rifles along the back wall. There was a side door to the loading platform and range with an office to the right inside the store. Frank Boyd and Winnie Carr often were there but mainly Winnie. Fran, Paddy’s son, was a good salesman and Jack, Paddy’s grandson, was more quiet type but both very nice folks. Frank Boyd was a big guy….to a kid of 15. Winnie was outspoken, but again a nice person once you got to know her. I knew her in her older age.
Wow, this brings back memories. Frances, or “FJ” as we used to call him, was my grandfather – my mother was his middle child. I still have Paddy’s roll-top desk in my dining room in LA, and several photos and other odds and ends from the old store including a glass showcase, some trophies, and a standing ashtray. My brother Stephen and I used to go up there and pick up the spent bullets for my grandfather:) That was a LONG time ago….
When I was in High School, the rifle club used their private range a couple times. I don’t recall which town they lived in, but Union? NJ or Roselle Park? Comes to mind. They had a separate indoor shooting range in their backyard. Very impressive as it was well built. A shooters dream come true. I believe the NJ gun laws was hurting their buisness a d they started looking for property in FL. When jack died suddenly in Fl. I saw Fran afterwards and it was obvious the pain he was feeling. Very very sad, then I heard Frank Boyd bought the buisness and eventually moved to Boonton, NJ. Frank Boyd has since died a number of years ago. Now the property where the dtore and range was located is a mini mall. The only thing remaining is the water pump shack to the left as you go into the mall parking lot.
WOW, does that bring back old memories. I trained under Winnie Carr as a teenager and took lessons at the indoor range in Maple Ridge if I recall correctly. Outdoor shooting was done at O’Hares. We won the state championships in 1963 I think and somehwere around here I have my old shooting coat and the winners patches from 1963. The Roseland Rifle and Pistol Club patch is still one of the nicest ones that I have ever seen. Five decades ago and it seems like yesterday. Of course there was riding on Beckers trains too!!!
I learned to shoot indoors with Ms. Carr back in the early 70’s . At that time we went to a range in Livingston NJ. It was in the backyard behind a private residence if I recall.I also shot in Roseland a few times. I also went to the NJ small bore Jr. championships at 14 or 15 (1st year shooting) and placed around 90.
The indoor range was in Maplewood, NJ. Winnie was tough but taught us how to respect a rifle and be a good shot. After my grandfathers death in ’74, my mother ran the business until it closed. I use to go up there an cut the grass and work the shop during the summer and instead of pay, i was able to shoot in the afternoons. I miss that for sure, great memories.
I wish I could have seen the range, but I have to settle for the stories from my mom and dad. My mom was PJ’s great-granddaughter, Francis her grandfather. Coincidentally, my dad also frequented the range as a child, long before meeting my mom. Great history! Thanks for sharing this article. Oh, and I’m still on the look out for a PJ O’Hare hat!!
My dad passed me his P.J. O’Hare Campaign hat that he wore when he shot on the Intelligence School Rifle Team, 1956 and 1957. I gave it to my son as it is one of the uniform items at the Corps of cadets at texas A&M University. Although it sports a new nape strap it is all original and still soldiering on — 60 years later!
Appropriate that it’s being worn by a third-generation highpower rifleman. 🙂
I grew up in Roseland, started shooting at age 12 in 1968. I would ride my bike to the range after school and get picked up by my father for dinner. I would go up the stairs from the store to a storage loft and pick out one of the clubs rifles they had for the junior teams use. I got my own gun after a deal with Dad was made. Shoot a perfect 400 in a match and get the gun. Well, I still have that Remington 400X – and still shoot it for fun now and again.
When I go to a range these days I can’t break old habits – as Juniors we policed all the brass on the firing line – I still do it today – RSO’s think I am crazy.
Our winter practice range was the range behind Fran’s house in Maplewood. My father and I would always get there a little early and I would get the kerosene from the outdoor tank and fill up the furnace to warm the place before the rest got there. Before we could shoot a few of us would crawl down range (It could not have been more than 3 feet to the roof)and replace burned out and broken bulbs and put cables back on the pulleys if necessary.
The range had 8 ports – four on the left were prone only the four to the right had a pit you would go down into to shoot offhand – there were boards that would go over the pit to shoot prone also.
One memory I have is (appropriate this year with the coming lunar eclipse) is we had one while practicing – to see the eclipse we used shot targets and watched the eclipse through the bullet holes on the ground.
Winnie was the best! She drove 3 of us out to Camp Perry a few times in her car. For snacks she had crackers and exposed me for the first time to that cheese in a can – I still do not like it but it holds great memories for me.
The store in Roseland was fantastic – great smell! I hated the range had to close when they built townhouses behind the range – Nobhill – we referred to it as Snobhill then.
Great weekends all summer Saturday practice Sunday Matches – winning my share of them (Junior) was the Great!
I collect Camp Perry wood boxes and have several PJ O’Hare boxes.
I am trying to document the history of various companies that had their name on the boxes. It appears that these boxes were ordered from Remington or perhaps a subcontractor in Bridgeport, Conn. I would like to confirm this.
Also most of the PJ O’Hare boxes use the Maplewood address but one I have says Roseland, NJ. When did the store relocate to Roseland and what is the street name. The box is unreadable on the name of the Avenue.