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A Letter from the Newbold Co-Founder

“Put that gun down, you could shoot your eye out with it!”

My Mom never said that to me and my brothers because my Dad took the time, when we were very young, to teach us proper respect for handling and owning guns. We grew up listening to him say, “Don’t ever point at anything you don’t want to shoot” and “check with your finger to see that the chamber is empty.” So 50+ years later, unless I know with my own finger that the chamber is empty, whenever someone waves the end of a gun barrel at me, I find myself uncontrollably jumping around, dodging to the left and right of the barrel.

In ’69 my Dad made a sand-filled BB trap with wood and an angled steel plate. We taped paper targets onto cardboard and mounted the cardboard on pegs on the face of the trap. That’s where we learned all the basics… “Hold your breath and squeeze the trigger, slowly.” “Keep both eyes open.” Here in New Jersey where just the word “gun” strikes fear into the hearts of most people, my Dad, my brothers and I grew up, odd as it might seem, liking guns and having fun with them. We hunted with friends and we did a lot of plinking on vacations, especially in the ‘80s at one huge sand pit in the state of Maine. There we shot everything including handguns, rifles and shotguns. Our targets were paper, glass bottles, tin cans, clay pigeons and once in a while, chunks of elastomer that my Dad brought home from work. We didn’t know it at the time, but those chunks of elastomer planted the seed for Newbold Targets.

There was always a lot going on there in that sand pit. We shot big glass bottles and as they rolled down the sand dune, we shot them again and again into a thousand pieces. We tossed hundreds of clay pigeons at every angle. And… we noticed that shooting those elastomer chunks was fun. Bullets would knock them around. On close inspection, we could see that our bullets ran completely through the elastomer, leaving just a small pinhole behind. We thought, “Wow, that’s cool.” And we didn’t think anything more about it… until about ten years later.

In ’94 this family and friends of fun-loving shooters finally got to thinking about molding elastomer into shooting targets. My Dad, the draftsman/engineer, ran with the idea and drew up some elastomer target molds. My brother set up the molding equipment and molded some targets. We had fun trying out several designs. Some worked and some didn’t. Then, when we were able to shoot 1,000 .45 Cal. semi-wads through an 8” Dia. x 5/8” Thick L-Series target, we knew we had what we saw during our earlier experience in the sand pit. The target was still intact and ready for more shooting.

We weren’t ready for the 1995 Shot Show in Vegas but we got our act together and introduced a few Newbold targets in a small booth at the farthest end of the overflow section of the show.

That’s when we found out that not just the few of us, but shooters worldwide actually liked the idea of a shoot-through target that could be shot over and over with hundreds or thousands of rounds. People, including the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), the FBI and the Vice President of the NRA, Neal Knox, made a real effort with their guide books in hand to locate our out-of-the-way booth. We could see they were impressed with what they saw and that energized us to make Newbold Targets real.

The rest as they say is history. We intend to keep on having fun with shooters everywhere… from Tennessee to Hong Kong and from Alaska to Sweden. With every phone call and contact we have with our customers, we find them to be a very likable bunch of very good people. Always upbeat and happy. They love the sport of target shooting and we plan on helping them enjoy it as much as we do.

Hap Phillips

Shooter and Co-Founder, Newbold Targets

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