Search for the Stray Shot Begins Anew

Search for the Stray Shot Begins Anew

The hunt is on! Less than a week before fall exams, Jack Gleason '21, Adam Feldman '21 and Josh Novick '21 sought to engage students in a new search for the Stray Shot on campus. Their first clue? “​When a taste all too common is apparent, the next move is transparent. Under the deal, you will find the next clue with zeal.”

As many alumni can attest, the search for the Stray Shot is a great Gunnery tradition with a long and complex history. The latest twist was announced at Prize Night on May 25, when Gleason and Novick carried the Stray Shot onto the stage and confessed to being part of a small group of students who purloined the cannonball a full year earlier – at Prize Night on May 27, 2018.

While fair game, the theft occurred the same night the Stray Shot had been presented to the entire school by Gavin Connors '19 and Sam Johnson. The pair said they had spent two years searching for it on and off in what Connors described as surely “one of the closest races ever” to find it. They eventually “rescued” the Stray Shot from the garage of Brett Matthews '18 and Carter Matthews '18 of Washington and had planned to engage their fellow Highlanders in a new hunt.

Of course, that plan was muted when Gleason, Feldman, Novick and their peers stumbled upon the cannonball, nestled in a black milk crate, after the 2018 awards ceremony, and disappeared with it into the night. “Last year after Prize Night, we went to the turf field to take some pictures. On our way, we encountered the Stray Shot sitting next to the stage unattended. We picked it up and carried it all the way to Teddy House; the four of us struggling to make the journey, as it is very heavy,” Gleason and Novick said.

To further complicate matters, the students became aware of a second Stray Shot in Head of School Peter Becker's possession. And so, last spring, for the first time in (known) history, both Stray Shots came into the possession of one Gunnery student and were photographed in the same place at the same time.

Due to this unprecedented situation, an alumni poll was conducted to determine what to do with the two cannonballs. Based on the results, it was deemed that the second Stray Shot, which Steve Curry '87 P'22 confessed to purchasing in 1988 “because of the names being carved over older ones on the original,” should be hidden, and the traditional one, introduced by T. Roderick Dew '59, editor of the Stray Shot literary magazine, put on display. The poll results were close: 177 alumni took the survey in May and about 38% voted to display the original Stray Shot securely on campus, while about 35% voted to hide it (and a few asked to have it at alumni events). “As a member of the Class of '99 it was a mystery if it even existed,” one respondent commented. “The Stray Shot was a mythological creature. Great to see that the stories are real and the tradition continues.”

On November 12, Gleason and Novick emailed students to let them know the clues as well as the Stray Shot were ready to be hunted down. “There are a variety of clues hidden on campus, and all of the clues are related to campus life. One clue will lead to the next until you reveal the final location of the Stray Shot,” they wrote, encouraging participants to engage returning students and faculty in their quest. “Please keep us updated on your progress, and if you are really stuck, maybe we can give you a hint. Good luck!"

And so the Stray Shot saga continues...

Additional Images

Josh Novick '21 and Jack Gleason '21 moments after presenting the Stray Shot at Prize Night in May

A closer view of the original Stray Shot engraved with the names of Highlanders who have possessed it over time