Fairfax, VA—It is with heavy heart that the National Rifle Association (NRA) says goodbye to a dearly beloved member of the NRA family. Cecil Brooks, the most recognized and revered of America’s legendary gun makers, known for his flawlessly exquisite flintlock and percussion rifles, died September 24, 2006 of heart failure at the age of 93.
“Freedom has lost a gifted friend,” said Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice-President. “Cecil’s death is a great loss to the NRA family and to the firearms community. His artistry and skills were legendary and unsurpassed. We are deeply saddened by Cecil’s passing.”
Mr. Brooks, born and raised on the banks of the Ohio River in Belpre, Ohio, was best known for creating flintlock long-rifles of extraordinary quality and design. Since 1955, his rifles have been a traditional presentation to honored keynote speakers at the National Rifle Association’s annual meetings.
Cecil Brooks’ NRA rifles – highly prized among collectors and museums – were created in what has become the “Brooks style.”
A tribute to Mr. Brooks, published in American Rifleman magazine in 2005, describes the common element captured by news photographs of yearly presentation ceremonies. “No matter what the station of the man or woman clutching the prized Brooks rifle – from Governors, to Senators, to generals, to national icons… the image on those photos is the same; of mere mortals touching perfection.”
In his early years, Mr. Brooks – self-taught in the gun maker’s craft – was a blacksmith, taxidermist and sign painter, getting 25 cents an hour for carving and painting signs on Ohio Riverboats. He began repairing firearms in the late 1920’s and built his first percussion long-rifle in the mid-1930’s. That rifle resides in the Ohio State Museum in Columbus.
Even into his nineties, Mr. Brooks possessed an exceptional talent in engraving, inletting, carving, barrel making and metal and wood finishing in the style of his 18th and 19th century predecessors.
NRA Secretary Edward J. Land, long-time friend of Mr. Brooks, said, “Cecil leaves a remarkable legacy. No other gun maker of his time is as well-known or well-respected. His muzzle-loading firearms will remain prized and will be appreciated for many generations to come.”
A lifelong resident of Lowell, Ohio, Mr. Brooks is survived by his wife, Mary.
Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen's group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation's leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military.