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#77542 - 08/03/02 01:14 PM ducks in a row
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
An article in Smithsonian magazine used a phrase I had not heard in a long time "to get your
ducks in a row", meaning to organize something in an advantageour way.
I finally found a site that said it originated in old time carnival attraction where you ahot
a twenty-two rifle at small moving metal targets that fell over when you hit them. One of the
targets was a line of life sized ducklings, and if none were down, it was easier to knock each
one down than in was if there were gaps in the line.
Anybody have an idea as to earliest date of this phrase?


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#77543 - 08/05/02 07:30 AM Re: ducks in a row
FishonaBike Offline
veteran

Registered: 10/11/00
Posts: 1346
Loc: Sussex, England
it originated in old time carnival attraction where you shot a twenty-two rifle at small moving metal targets that fell over when you hit them. One of the targets was a line of life sized ducklings

Sounds plausible Bill - in the UK you still get shooting galleries on piers and at fairs; often the targets used to be a moving line of ducks, though probably it's a more PC line of indeterminate beasties these days. It's definitely more difficult to knock the ducks down out of sequence than if you keep them bunched together.

I should add that the gun is never anything more powerful than an air rifle (BB-gun to USns, isn't it?) over here, but then the target is rarely any more than 15ft or so away (in a stall). A .22 rifle would blow a hole through anything at that range, and I'd imagine your carnival shooting range would have had to put the "ducks" quite a long way away - more than 40ft at a guess.


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#77544 - 08/05/02 08:57 AM Re: ducks in a row
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear fishonabike: The old time carnvals I mentioned used twenty-tw9 short cartridges in
a pumpgun. I never saw an automatic rifle in one. That would have made ti too easy.
And the range was about twenty feet. The challenge was to aim, fire, and pump in a
new cartridge and aim again fast enough to be able to fire about every two seconds before
the moving targets went over edge of table, down under the table and back to starting
point. I never saw an air rifle that could fire rapidly enough to use against those rather
heavy metal targets to take advantage of "having your ducks in a row".
Incidentally, the rifles were on a short chain to prevent accidents.



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#77545 - 08/06/02 04:24 PM Re: ducks in a row
FishonaBike Offline
veteran

Registered: 10/11/00
Posts: 1346
Loc: Sussex, England
I never saw an automatic rifle in one
Heck, I wouldn't expect the use of self-loading rifles at a fairground, either!

I never saw an air rifle that could fire rapidly enough to use against those rather heavy metal targets
Yes, Bill, at the shooting galleries I'm talking about the targets are usually flat tin, and copiously dented.



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#77546 - 08/06/02 04:41 PM Re: ducks in a row
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear fishonabike:Forgive another anecdote. My brother owned a beautiful octagonal
barreled pump .22 cal rifle. One day a neighbor we detested came and asked my brother
to loan it to him, because he had a skunk in his basement.To my surprise, my brother
immediately consented, and brought it out loaded with twenty two long rifle hollow points
and safety on. The guy came back fifteen minutes later with potent musteline perfume.
He said:" I don't understand it. I hit him right between the eyes, and he just turned around
and sprayed me. But I got him with the second shot. "
After he left, I noticed my brother was grinning, and asked him for explanation.
"Feathershot in the chamber"

(Feathershot were like miniature shotgunshells, with tiny pellets that could be used
to shoot rats indoors with no ricochet)


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#77547 - 08/06/02 04:48 PM Re: ducks in a row
FishonaBike Offline
veteran

Registered: 10/11/00
Posts: 1346
Loc: Sussex, England
"Feathershot in the chamber"

So the neighbour was a "sitting duck", eh?


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#77548 - 08/06/02 09:59 PM Re: ducks in a row
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/24/02
Posts: 7210
Loc: Vermont
Bill, it sounds like your brother has all his ducks in a row!

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