Photo of President Obama shooting
Everyone has seen the picture of President Obama shooting a shotgun on the Camp David skeet field. But a careful look raises some questions in my mind. Here's the image in question:
Note the background: a road-sized path or road, that either expands, or goes into a T-junction, in front of his firing position. Beyond that some grass, and a forest. No tower is visible, nor is any fence.
Here’s an image of JFK shooting on the range. Note the high wooden fence about ten feet behind him, and the narrowness of the pathway.
Of course, that would have been around fifty years ago. But you can see modern images of the range, up through the time of George Bush, Sr. at the following address (for some reason the html tag won't work:
In them, the towers and the wooden fence are visible. Here is a modern aerial view, obtained from Google Maps, of the Camp David skeet range. Note the throwing towers at either end of the range, and what appears to be the wooden fence, especially visible next to the left tower. The towers are about five feet on a side, so the walkway is about three feet wide. The only areas where the path widens are at the ends, right next to the towers.
I can’t see how the Obama photo could have been taken on that range. There’s no fence visible, the pathway or road is far wider than the range walkway, and the only places where the path widens are next to the towers, yet no tower is visible.
UPDATE: the rectangular object isn't, I think, the corner of one of the towers. On that webpage I cited, you can see the towers, and their roofs are 12-14 feet up. The object here appears to be more like half that.
The photo appears to be taken at right angles to his direction of fire; for it to omit the tower, Obama have to have left the shooting area, and that still wouldn't explain why he has the road/path behind him and in front of him (or else a widening of it in front of him). The area where it widens near the tower in the overhead view is behind the tower, so to speak, and within the wooden fence.
With regard the firearm--some shotgun loads can be pretty smokey, and you can have a ported over-and-under which would send some of it directly up. I can't figure out what the yellow object at the end of the barrel is, though. Possibly some uncombusted powder gasses igniting as they reach the air?
Can anyone identify what make and model that shotgun is? If it is an over/under, how would it have gas venting upward - are over/unders available compensated in the upper barrel (but not the lower)?
Posted by: Mman at February 5, 2013 01:43 PM
I hate to stick up for the douche in chief, but if you look at picture number one directly behind his head you see a rectagle shaped object. Picture nuber two, if he was standing to the left of and slightly in front of the tower it would not have the fence and you would also see the pavement. The rectagle in picture one is the very front corner of the far right corner of the tower. The fence starts behind the tower and to the right side of the tower is the wide pavement you are looking at.
Posted by: patrick hegarty at February 5, 2013 02:02 PM
Clearly it is a steam powered rifle...
Posted by: Jason Saj at February 5, 2013 02:05 PM
I did this analysis when the pic first came out and concluded that he was standing on that little pathway in front of the low house right next to the paved "turn around" area...
He obviously was not shooting a round of skeet or trap, just posing for a photo. Not that it matters anyway. Not like we were all going to say "oh, he shoots skeet? That convinces me that he's right! Where do I turn in my black rifles?"
Posted by: brian at February 5, 2013 02:08 PM
Any explanation for the odd puff of smoke? I don't doubt that he's fired off a few rounds sometime. But most photos of people shooting don't display smoke like that. It almost looks like a black powder shot. I wonder if his staff added the smoke to spruce up an otherwise-honest photo, and ignorantly worked from a photo of a gun with a muzzle brake.
Posted by: jheath at February 5, 2013 02:20 PM
Dat puff of smoke is from his spliff, mon!
Posted by: NotClauswitz at February 5, 2013 03:03 PM
The gun looks like a Browning Citori, an over/under. Never seen one smoke like that though. Either it was a special blackpowder load or more likely photoshopped.
Posted by: Sam at February 5, 2013 03:15 PM
Presuming the picture is completely legit, it was probably taken with the president standing on Station #7 (the one in front of the low house / east/right tower) with the photographer on Station #6. That would account for the fence being missing in the background, and the little rectangular structure above his shoulder would be the roof of the low house, which is typically half the height of the high house.
At facilities where you have multiple adjacent skeet ranges, the high house for the one range is also used as the low house on the adjacent range.
Based on the angle he's shooting, he's taking a shot at a clay thrown from the low house, directly behind him.
I use high shutter speeds and low apertures when shooting photos of my hunting dogs in action. A very fast shutter speed and high ISO setting could account for the "smoky-ness" of the shotgun, and the low aperture setting creates the narrow depth of field and blurry background.
Posted by: rj at February 5, 2013 05:04 PM
The yellow thing at the end of the top barrel is an extended choke tube. The president of Browning has said the the shotgun is most likely some Browning model, and Briley makes a set of gold colored choke tubes, called "Midas" chokes, specifically for Browning.
The fact that no choke tube is visible in the bottom barrel suggests only the top barrel is being fired. Skeet requires shooting "doubles," or one shot from each barrel at two simultaneously thrown birds.
One should never shoot through an unchoked barrel, as it can damage the choke threads. It is possible, but unlikely, that the bottom barrel has a flush choke, and not an extended choke.
Oh, and when one shoots an over/under shotgun in single shot for trap or informal shooting, most people shoot from the bottom barrel only, rather than the top.
Posted by: CJW at February 5, 2013 05:16 PM
Oh, and the upward ejecta is just smoke through a ported barrel. A lot of sporting guns are ported, and that would be about the right distance behind the muzzle for the ports to be located. There's also nothing unusual about the amount of smoke shown in the picture. Shotgun loads pretty much always look like that.
Posted by: CJW at February 5, 2013 05:18 PM
Nice theory RJ, but take a look at the trees and the pavement... It just isn't possible for him to be on #7 shooting at a bird thrown from the low house. If he was, there would not be trees in the background and the pavement is in the wrong place.
He's out in front of the low house on that walkway to the turn around area posing for a photo or maybe shooting a bird thrown from the trap house in the middle. Maybe he shot a round of trap or skeet before or after the photo, but in that photo he isn't on any trap or skeet station at Camp David (unless the sat photo on Google Maps is doctored, which isn't outside of the realm of possibility).
Not that it matters if he has or hasn't shot skeet... Legit or not, that photo does nothing to change anyone's opinion, it just makes him look like Dukakis in a tank.
Posted by: Brian at February 5, 2013 05:26 PM
The angle of his shot sure is low too. Almost on the ground.
Posted by: LordChamp at February 5, 2013 07:02 PM
It is cow pasture skeet, not trap or skeet with a mechanical thrower but a USSS agent with a hand thrower.
He does shoot with USSS (in Chicago on the rooftop range) and back East with USSS (rifles and carbines).
Posted by: Shootin' Buddy at February 5, 2013 07:38 PM
I think its more likely that the brass colored end indicates that there is a Skeetmaster subcaliber insert - probably a .410 ga tube in a 12 gauge barrel.
President Mom Jeans is trying the shotgun out with a .410 shell ...
Posted by: SPQR at February 5, 2013 08:09 PM
Initially, I also thought that he was shooting from in front of the low house on the right side of the aerial photo.
But after looking at the Obama photo and the Camp David aerial photo for a while, my best guess is that he is shooting from #8 (behind the trap house in the front/center of the range) and the photographer is over behind the high house on the far left of the photo (probably with a 300mm or maybe a 200mm telephoto lens). That would match up with the background, including the pathway shape and the corner of the low house roof in the photo.
Consistent with this theory, and the low angle of Obama's apparent target, my guess is he is shooting at a clay target launched from the trap house--and not "skeet shooting" in this photo.
In fairness to Obama, the official description released with Pete Souza's photo says: "President Obama shooting clay targets at Camp David on Aug. 4, 2012." It does not pretend to be a photo of him actually doing skeet shooting, although the mainstream press was more than happy to pick up the photo and pass it on as showing just that.
(Maybe it is one of those "clip" vs. "magazine" things--i.e, from the MSM/liberal perspective, what's the difference? Who cares?)
Oh, and I like the .410 theory.
Posted by: Bill Bentnickel at February 5, 2013 10:17 PM
Ok....but can he ride a horse? That guy in Russia rides...that guy in N Korea rides (and he looks like a pretty good horseman) and our dear leader doesn't? I bet hes afraid of horses. He is such a wimp...
Posted by: Granny Grunch at February 6, 2013 06:59 AM
Bill, I think you are correct on all points... Shooting from #8 at a bird from the trap house photographed with a telephoto lens.
I'm not on board with the .410 insert though unless the smoke from the ports was edited in... I've never seen an insert that had ports, anyone know if they exist?
Posted by: Brian at February 6, 2013 07:52 AM
Everybody who agrees this is an more-or-less honest photo should say so on other sites. I mean, BO is making a conciliatory gesture and portraying shooting as a wholesome activity by releasing this photo. We should encourage him to do that, rather than dumping on him for it. I'm aware he's trying to curry enough favor with swing-state hunters to get support for the AWB. But he's not vilifying all gun owners, and photos like this can only encourage kids to get involved in the shooting sports, and encourage gun-shy parents to allow their kids to do it. He's portraying shooting as "normal", something I almost never see in the media or on TV.
Posted by: JHeath at February 7, 2013 08:38 PM
My qualifications, such as they are: studied photojournalism at U. of Iowa Grad. School of Journalism and at Oregon State, also art photography there. Caveat: any photo interpretation is difficult and todays’s computer photo editing software is pretty darn good. I have shot skeet and trap a few times, and have to be the world’s worst skeet shooter. I’m an NRA life member, hunter, NRA instructor, rifle and pistol target shooter, disabled.
First: there is very little information in the photograph: no identifiable structures, but possibly the overhang of the low house, very blurry; only the road or walkway; no foreground information; the background is an unknown distance away; since the president’s placement in relationship to the background is cropped out, there’s no connection between the two; everything other than the president is out of focus; there are few visible shadows and those are indistinct; no obvious sign of computer editing. Determining distances, lines of perspective, sun direction and elevation would be problematic. Even an expert photo interpretater would have difficulty with wringing much evidence out of this photo.
I suspect the photo was chosen or cropped so that it shows nothing but the president. What does any of this prove: nothing whatsoever. Makes people like us speculate more, since we hate being upstaged and embarrassed by a mere POTUS.
Sorry, the NRA stepped into this one. Obama is famous for this: remember his birth certificate? He could have released it at any time. He waited until Birthers made complete fools of themselves. He set the NRA up and they did exactly what he needed them to do. He knew one way or another he could take advantage of the “anti-gun” accusation.
The NRA-ILA has been blowing this debate. I admire both LaPierre and Chris Cox, but they apparently became complacent. Obviously, Obama has been game-planning this for some time with the gun control lobby.
I saw Wayne LaPierre on Fox News Sunday 2-13 and Chris Wallace did an excellent ambush job on him. Wayne got really flustered and started blustering. It won’t do. The way the NRA has won before is by sticking to the facts. Wayne wasn’t prepared. Giffords’ hubby, Mark Kelly, was prepared and just ran down the gun control lobbys’ talking points, with Wallace’s help of course, very neatly and impressively.
Obama’s alleged clay target shooting is just distraction from the real issues, but the NRA started the accusing. Obama proved he isn’t anti-gun, which will influence a lot of people. And it undermines NRA’s credibility. They need to admit they fell for it and get back to business.
Somebody who knows LaPierre and Cox should let them know.
Posted by: Eldon Dickens at February 7, 2013 09:20 PM
"Obama proved he isn’t anti-gun"
Absolutely, totally, 100% false.... The photo proved that he is a hypocrite and/or panderer, but his actions and words prove beyond any sliver of a doubt that is he anti-gun.
The photo analysis only goes to prove the obvious fact that a politician is a liar.
When analyzing the photo, maybe we can't say where he was standing, but we can see that he absolutely was not shooting a round of the game called "skeet". There is no possible camera position or lens would would result in that photograph if he was standing on a skeet station at Camp David shooting any target presentation possible during a round of skeet.
We have no evidence that he "shoots skeet all the time", not even evidence that he has shoot a round of skeet. The only evidence that he fired a shotgun once and doesn't shoot "skeet" enough to even know that it is the specific name of a particular shooting sport.
Posted by: Brian at February 8, 2013 12:09 PM