Who Designed the Classic Thug Shooting Target?

A recent New York magazine squib about Manhattan’s only shooting range got me wondering about the classic target design seen in an accompanying photo (and in countless cop flicks), which depicts a paunchy, pomaded tough brandishing a pistol and a pair of lovingly-drawn crotch-hugging trousers. Where did this image come from, and how did it become such an enduring icon of lawlessness? It turns out that I’m not the first person to ask these questions. In 2005, the New York Times’ Michael Wilson investigated the history of Advanced Silhouette SP-83A—known colloquially as “the Thug”—and unearthed several competing theories about its provenance. If, like me, you missed the story four years ago (or if you’re a fan of Ernest Borgnine, one possible model), it’s worth checking out.

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