Jax Journal

By Jacque Snellenberger Thatcher



What does your vest say about you?

   Vests are different sizes, different colors, and different styles.  Many shooters use vests as part of their shooting equipment, and they are strictly a means to an end:  the end being the ability to shoot with padding, a place to hold your shells, or just being comfortable in the knowledge that your gun will be put in the same place every time.  However, for others, vests are a matter of statement!

   Each vest seems to be different in some way.  It might be that they just put their name on the front.  This alone gives it an individual style, not to mention that it offers those who have poor memories an idea of who they’re talking to—shooters embroider their names on vests.  It could be that they’ve picked their favorite color, or their child’s favorite color. Ok, maybe they just got it on sale (that would be my dad.)  My first vest was lime green, not because it was a cool color, but because no one else had it at the time.  It was just to be different and that was at age 15. I can’t be the only one, can I? Didn’t think so.

   Some shooters put patches on their vests to show their accomplishments.  This was very popular years before.  This is a vest that my father owns.  My mother didn’t know what to do with all of the patches that Dad was receiving (it was very popular back then), so she found a vest that he had shot in before. She thought it was perfect since it already had a few of the patches on it, and she added the others.  Needless to say, my dad didn’t shoot in it anymore, but it was known in the house hold as the “scare vest.” Nowadays, it seems that kids or newcomers have the vests with patches.  It’s a way for them to keep track of their milestones and show off their developing talents

   Others, like mine are more personal.  Cancer entered my life for the first time when my grandfather passed away while I was in high school from leukemia.   Again, cancer ripped through my life with my friend Eric Weikum.  Watching him deal with the difficulties of cancer and still shooting well, even after it had taken one of his legs, was and still is to me, amazing.  He has been an inspiration to me so many times during my life.  I also watched my mother finally lose her last bout from lung cancer.  I didn’t know how to show everyone that whether you’ve watched someone you love go through cancer or you’ve made it through yourself, it changes you. 

   My mom used to wear this button on her coat.  It said, “CANCER SUCKS!”  That stood out for me, because for her to say sucks was just not proper and I never heard her say it. So, when I was looking for a way to show others that she was not forgotten and nor were the others in my life that didn’t make it with their battles of cancer, “Cancer Sucks” just seemed right.   I can’t do much of anything else about the cancer itself, but I can/could show others that I’m aware of the fact that it’s horrible and no one forgets it or the things they went through.  Eric Weikum, Kitty Snellenberger, Corbit Dunn (previous student), Barbara (Bubbles) Rutledge will always be remembered by me.  The number of people who have come up to me and just said, “I agree,” or who’ve asked whether I was a cancer survivor cannot be counted.  It affects everyone and we all remember.

   Some shooters show off their loyalty to their local gun club.

   Yet, another shooter shows off his love of bugs (I’m guessing).

   And another one I found has “The Medicine Man” on the back.   I’ll let you wonder like I did about that one too.

   Believe it or not, some vests are even more decked out than mine.  Vests can even be made out of different materials.  Many of my friends have had their own vests made.  Jodie sports her favorite football team, The Steelers. 

   Vests are just one of the many different ways to show off your individuality.  Take a walk up and down the trap line someday and just look at the vests.  You’ll certainly be interested and probably surprised in what you might find.  (Photos by Jen Joe Photo)









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