With the first flintlock rifle he made for the NRA Annual Meetings in 1955, Ohio gun maker Cecil Brooks had little idea he would be creating a tradition lasting more than half a century. Brooks made each of the special presentation rifles, awarded to banquet speakers at the Annual Meetings, through 2005, basing his embellished creations on rifles made by legendary Ohio Valley gunsmiths who built arms in the mid to late 1800s. At age 93, Brooks completed a special rifle for Vice President Dick Cheney in 2005, with the assistance of his apprentice Lee Hamel.
Brooks’ rifles could take from 500 to 700 hours to craft, from the elaborately engraved patch box to inlaid gold and silver accents that can take the form of touchhole picks or unique stock inlays. Other unique aspects of some Brooks’ guns can be seen in their brass barrels, made from the drive shafts of nuclear submarines, as well as stocks made from historic apple and curly maple trees.