Hand Grenade Throwing as a College Sport

Lewis Omer’s Hand Grenade Throwing as a College Sport, published in 1918, appears in various lists of books with odd titles.

I was curious about the contents of the book, but I initially came up empty handed. The British Library blog reported that it was a nine-page booklet, but that no copies of the title seemed to remain in existence. The Library of Congress didn't have a copy, nor did any other libraries. And the British Library's own copy was destroyed during aerial bombing in World War II.

But after some searching I found what appears to be the text of Omer's booklet reproduced in the Spalding's Athletic Library Official Handbook, published in 1919, and viewable at archive.org.

So why hand-grenade throwing as a college sport? Because, at the time Omer wrote his book, young American men were being sent to fight in World War I, and some colleges had introduced grenade throwing as a sport, to prepare them for the war. Using dummy grenades, obviously, rather than live ones. Omer's booklet provided the official rules for the new sport.

Some more info about the history of grenade throwing as a sport can be found at the History Of The California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section.

     Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 22, 2023
     Category: Sports | Books | 1910s | Weapons

Not everyone apparently thinks it's obvious to use dummy grenades for sport purposes. A few years ago, there was that story of an instructor who brought an RPG launcher into a classroom and proceeded to blow away a large part of the room.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 06/22/23 at 11:57 AM
This "sport" seems as tho it could be military manuever. Perhaps to excite the competitors to enlist in the military. Many Olympic sports were a measure of one's ability to survive, or thrive, in the event of a diaster. Hand grenade throwing = military prowess...?
Posted by Teri on 06/23/23 at 01:40 AM
Didn't archery become a sport because an advancement in making bows turned it into a better military weapon? Prior to that, people just practiced on their own so they'd be better hunters. Suddenly, it was organized into distance/accuracy competition to keep interest high.
Posted by Phideaux on 06/23/23 at 01:54 AM
Lobbing 12 out of 15 at 40 yards into a 6 foot circle is real throwing skill. Teams to be encouraged to move up to Trench Raid & Mopping with bayonets. Our leaders are failing to foster the academic US and THEM definitions for actual reasons listed to target enemies for ethical reasons, as pock marked by grenades as they may be, and scholarly tactic & weapons use.
Posted by Swordfish on 06/23/23 at 10:27 AM
@Teri @Phideaux And javelin throwing, obviously. Probably shot put and discus as well. The winter biathlon and the military pentathlon, too.
Posted by Richard Bos on 06/25/23 at 03:09 AM
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