Due to the interest generated by the name of our sport and the inquiries we have received from its beginning, I have decided to write this blog to explain why we chose “Zoot Shooters”.
We appreciate all of the questions, comments, praise and criticism that have come to our inbox. Every bit of input we get helps us to shape our sport into something that we trust many people will enjoy for years to come. There is one topic that comes up more often than others and that is our name and its relationship to the term “zoot suit”. This blog is to set the record straight as I intend to be completely “on the level”.
From the founders’ perspective, the term “zoot suit” is associated with a style of clothing created in the late 1930s and nothing more. It is something that rhymes with “shoot” (twice) and marks the end of an era that we are attempting to represent. We think it is a term that many people associate with that time period, correct or not. I will share two quotes from our mission statement that support what I am trying to point out.
The first quote that can be found in the “ABOUT” page of this website reads, “American Zoot Shooters Association’s founders are not historians; please excuse any historical inaccuracies.” This means that we are not trying to duplicate history. Unlike other historical reenactment groups, it is not our intent to recreate history with absolute accuracy; that is not the target for our sport. We believe that what Zoot Shooters portrays attracts new people to shooting sports. We want people to enjoy Zoot Shooters in any capacity that they choose. Shooters are welcome into our sport as historians or fantasy role players. It is our goal for participants to be safe, have fun and that is it. Should that not be the goals for everyone in the shooting community?
The other comments that arise from our name are about the WWII zoot suit riots. We know about the infamous history of the “zoot suit” created by the fights between Latino youth and American servicemen. And this brings me to our second quote which disputes what a few also seem to think about the title of our sport; “AZSA does not condone criminals and gangsters or their activities.” Furthermore, to say that all people who wore “zoot suits” were criminals is a stereotype. Not to mention, the AZSA’s founders, board of directors and sponsors support the United States military. Several of our members are active duty military, reservists, veterans and / or law enforcement.
If you would like to join us and still find the thought of wearing a “zoot suit” offensive then choose another outfit. There is nothing in our rules saying you must wear a “zoot suit”. Our mission statement says, “costumes may be of any character type reflecting the era (i.e. gangster, law enforcement, flapper, bootlegger, politician, etc.).” We encourage everyone to use their imagination and select a costume that best compliments their character from a time when Tommy Guns roared!
I hope this blog has cleared up some misconceptions about the Zoot Shooters’ name.
Jason “The Hustler” Huss