Guns and Whiskey – At the Olympics?

letterhead-header 2

I have to admit to being a rabid Olympics fan. I’m a mediocre fan of sports overall. I enjoy watching grand slam tennis events and am known to watch football and baseball games if my husband has them on, but rarely do I purposely turn on the TV in search of sports. Until the Olympics come around. When Team USA plays, I set my schedule around being in front of the TV to cheer on my country.

Virginia Thrasher OlympicsOur first gold medal of the 2016 games was awarded to a young, 19-year-old shooter by the name of Virginia Thrasher. Watching this cool-as-a-cucumber athlete, reminded me of Annie Oakley and all the talented shooters who came from an era when guns were necessary to keep food on the table and danger from the door.

As it turns out, shooting was one of the original events at the first modern Olympics in 1896. There were 5 different shooting events, 2 for rifles and 3 for pistols. And of the 8 athletes representing the United States at the games in Athens, 2 of them were shooters. Brothers John and Sumner Paine from Harvard. Lieutenant John B. Paine happened to be a member of the Boston Athletic Club, which was the organization that sent a handful of athletes to compete at the newly organized games. John’s brother, Sumner was in Paris, France at the time, working as a gunsmith. After deciding to make the trip to Greece to compete, John stopped by France on his way in order to invite his brother to come along.

Sumner is seated on the floor second from the left and John is sitting on the floor second from the right.
Team USA in 1896 Olympics. Sumner Paine is seated on the floor second from the left and John Paine is sitting on the floor second from the right.

Not knowing what weapons they would need, they packed an arsenal: two Colt army revolvers, two Smith & Wesson Russian model revolvers, a Stevens .22 caliber pistol, a Wurfflein, two pocket weapons, and 3,500 rounds of ammunition.* They entered all 3 pistol events. Unfortunately, they were excluded from the rapid fire pistol competition because their .22 caliber pistols were disqualified as not being standard issue.

The shooting house was built of white marble, and they shot at a black bull’s-eye with a white dot inside.

Using their Colt revolvers, John and Sumner dominated the 25 meter military pistol event. John took first place with a score of 442. Sumner took second with a score of 380. The next closest opponent scored 205. The brothers had decided privately that whoever won the first event would bow out for the second, so John withdrew from the 30 meter free pistol event, leaving Sumner to capture first place easily with the same score his brother had earned in the previous round – 442. They only needed 96 rounds from the 3,500-round stash of ammunition to win their events.

Sumner Paine
Sumner Paine

John and Sumner Paine were the first US athletes to win gold at the Olympics.

Where does the whiskey come in, you ask? Well, according to eye-witness accounts, the Paine brothers paused between rounds to sip whiskey from flasks when tensions ran high. By the next day, all the other competitors decided to follow suit.* I don’t think these fellows would have passed the anti-doping regulations of today.

Being an Olympic shooting champion has it’s advantages, though. One night in 1901, Sumner Paine came home to find his wife in bed with his daughter’s music teacher. He drove the man away with four shots from a .32 caliber pistol. He was briefly jailed and charged with assault, but Paine was released when the police found his medal and realized he must have missed on purpose.

  • What are your favorite Olympics events?

*Information taken from:




Yes, I have Olympic fever.  I love the Olympics and I can’t decide if I love the summer or winter games more.  With summer we have swimming and gymnastics and diving and volleyball.  With winter we have bobsleds and ice skating and ice dancing and skiing.   It’s a tie for me. They both get the GOLD.  I love them both equally.

The Ancient Olympic games started out in 776 BC in Greece and featured athletic games as well as combat and chariot racing.  There were many attempts to resurrect the games all throughout history, but the most widely accepted date of resurrection was 1896 in Athens held in the Panathenaic Stadium built specifically for the games.  At that time there were 14 nations represented and 241 athletes.  As of 2008, there were 204 nations represented and 10,500 participants.

On my other blogs, I’ve done many Random Thoughts days.  It’s fun to see what everyone’s thinking.  Today I thought we could share our Random Olympic Thoughts.

I’ll go first and give you some of mine:

How did they get the stadium to look so blue at the end of the opening ceremonies?

I adore watching Michael Phelps swim.  He’s a true inspiration.  I’m glad I watched all of his races. It was truly history in the making.

All the girls on the USA Gymnastics team look so young.   Maybe because they are!

I love Ryan Seacrest but really what is he doing there?

Gabby Douglas has the most beautiful sweet smile.

 I don’t remember the women’s beach volleyball team swimsuits being so skimpy in the past.  I bet there are a lot of men who could clue me in though.   (Yay team USA!…I love volleyball)


Seeing Oscar Pitorius from South Africa run in the 400 meter semi-final race brought tears to my eyes.  Despite the controversy (that he would have an advantage) everyone cheered for him including me.

Paul McCartney’s touching beginning to Hey Jude at the opening ceremonies made me love my favorite Beatle even more.

What fun seeing Prince William, Princess Kate and Prince Harry, waving the British flag and cheering on their athletes.  They are just like everybody else in that regard.

Yay, Serena Williams!!  You are so awesome.

Is it a requirement that all the men on the USA Swim Team be hunky?  (Hey, I’m always looking for a hero)

 I want to go to London. 


Okay, those are mine.  Will you share yours?  What are your impressions and completely random thoughts regarding the Olympics?   I’ve got a great 2 in1 Desire to go to one Random commenter today. And be sure to join my newsletter to be automatically entered to win one of five gift cards on my Summer and Sands Contest. 











 AMAZON and all other online and retail bookstores