County museum to showcase marksman’s gun-made ‘art’

Guns

Tom Frye’s best-known piece of gun-made art was a silhouette of an Indianhead with a headdress.

One of the favorite stunts of exhibition shooter Tom Frye was to shoot a bullet through the hole of a washer. A piece of tape placed over the hole beforehand quieted any naysayers.

Billings was once Frye’s home, and a large collection of his art and memorabilia was recently donated to Yellowstone County Museum. An exhibition of select pieces of Frye’s art — silhouettes created by shooting images into a blank sheet of aluminum — will go on display starting Friday at the museum.

As part of the opening-night event, Tim Price, author of “Shooting for the Record,” a book about Frye’s life and career, will give a talk and sign books. The opening and book signing will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Yellowstone County Museum, 1950 Terminal Circle, across from Billings Logan International Airport.

Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served, including free beer, courtesy of Angry Hanks. “A Shot Above the Rest” is the museum’s 2018 feature exhibit.

Frye was an exhibition shooter employed by the Remington Arms Co. from 1948 to 1973. He was known for his unbelievable feats of marksmanship in exhibitions that drew hundreds of spectators.

Tom Frye

Tom Frye

Frye’s most popular demonstration was shooting images into aluminum sheets. Names, animals, western images — he could recreate any design from memory. His best-known design was the silhouette of an Indianhead with a headdress.

Perhaps Frye’s most remarkable achievement was his 1959 World Record in marathon aerial shooting. Using a .22 rifle, he broke 100,004 small wooden blocks thrown into the air, missing only six times. His record has gone unmatched.

Some would deny that Frye broke the record set by Adolph “Ad” Toepperwein in 1907. Toepperwein himself was the first to criticize Frye’s methods, saying his attempt was truly impressive but not done by regulation standards.

Price explored that accusation in another book, “Shooting for the Record: Adolph Toepperwein, Tom Frye, and Sharpshooting’s Forgotten Controversy.” At the event Friday, Price will present interesting stories and photos from Frye’s career.

The new exhibit features over a dozen of Tom Frye’s unique silhouettes in a variety of designs. For more details, call the Yellowstone County Museum at 256-6811, write to the museum’s director, Matthew Fesmire, at matthew.fesmire@ycmhistory.org, or visit the museum website at ycmhistory.org.

Parking and admission are free.

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