Dayton's 'Pop' Heikes was known throughout the world as the 'Daddy of Them All' in trapshooting

Nov. 10—Rolla Heikes was once the best-known marksman in the world.

Better known as "Pop", he represented more companies in ads than almost any other American athlete and toured the world giving shooting exhibitions during the early 1900s.

Here's what you should know about him:

Early life

Heikes was born Dec. 25, 1856, on a farm near Dayton.

As a kid, he shot at glass ball targets before the days of clay targets with 11-pound, 10-gauge, black powder guns.

When he was 21, the family moved him to Nebraska because "Rolly" had weak lungs, thinking that the change would benefit him.

From Nebraska, he then moved to Utah, where he purchased a cattle ranch. In Utah, he did a great deal of game hunting, big and small.

Heikes eventually moved back to Dayton and married. In 1886, after he had defeated many of the country's greatest live bird shootershe became a professional and shot as one for many years.

On New Year's Day in 1880, he broke his first 100 straight at clay targets. He would later repeat this feat many times during his career.

His ability to shoot made him a member of the American team that was sent to England and Scotland to compete against teams there in the 1890s.

Heikes was also part of a touring team of marksmen tat traveled to form gun clubs, give exhibition shoots and meet in contests with other teams.

Grand American Handicap

Heikes participated and captured trophies in practically all of the big contests in the United States. For many years, he held the title of champion clay bird shot of the world.

The highlight victory of his career came in 1900, when he won the first ever Grand American Target Handicap, held in New York.

The conditions of the contest called for 100 targets, launched from unknown angles from a distance of 22 yards.

In winning the first Grand American, Heikes broke 24 in the first event, 24 in the second, a 22 and a 21, for a total of 91 out of 100 targets hit. Heikes claimed $130.20 in prize money.

Winning the first Grand American was no surprise to his many friends, as he was generally known as one of the greatest all-around shots in the country at that time.

After the victory, Heikes was called up to a podium where he received an elegant trophy, a loud ovation and three cheers for the "Daddy of Them All," a nickname given to him by fellow trapshooters.

Reported murdered

After a show in Detroit in June 1911, he departed the Wayne Hotel but left behind a bag containing his personal papers and money. Two thieves snatched the bag and hopped a train to Chicago.

On the way the pair got into an argument and one shot and killed the other. The body was found with Heikes' papers and it was assumed he was the murdered man.

Word was sent back to Dayton, and the Dayton Daily Herald's afternoon edition published a story with the big, blaring headline:

"Murder is reported of Dayton Marksman."

No one was more surprised to read the headline than Heikes himself when he arrived back in Dayton from Detroit.

Later life

Heikes was a representative of several gun manufacturers and associated firearm businesses during his career, including for the Winchester Arms Company, the Peters Cartridge company, and the LeFever Gun Co.

He won his last championship in 1926, when he won the Michigan state trap shoot.

At one time Heikes held more records than any other living marksman.

Heikes was a weekly competitor with other Dayton marksmen at the NCR Gun Club traps on Saturday afternoons. He also hosted many local shooting events at the Buckeye Gun Club in Dayton View. In paired events, Heikes would often team up with Charles A. "Sparrow" Young, of Springfield, also a top shooter of the day.

His family sometimes spent their summers at a second home at Pearl Beach, Mich. and in later life lived permanently in the Detroit area.

Heikes died in 1934 and was buried in Woodland Cemetery.

He was inducted to the Trapshooting Hall of Fame in 1969.