Ate a Bullet

Riflery range showing shooting positions

One of the many unique traditions of Rockbrook is the signatures in many of the cabins. Campers can sign their names along with the year and session on the inside, allowing them to leave behind a little bit of their legacy that they can return to years later. There are also a few special places besides cabins where signatures can be found. One of my favorite places at camp to read the signatures is the rifle range. The signatures on the range date back to the 1960’s (the original range was located where Nature Nook is now). As a riflery instructor, I have spent a lot of time at the range and have enjoyed reading the Riflery Woman of the Week plaques from the 60’s or the “We Creamed Keystone” or “Carolina was shot down today!” victory declarations from tournaments.

Jane Spell with Horse
Jane Spell

As a camper sitting on the student bench, one name really stuck out to me: “Jane Spell High-Up 77” is written in a light blue paint that seems to only have gotten brighter with age while other names have faded. I’ve always wondered what she used to write that with! Later as a riflery instructor, I read on the inside of the gun cabinet where Spell supposedly “ate a bullet 7-25-77.” I always associated Jane Spell with the rifle range and was excited to meet her one summer and later learn she and my mother went to camp together.

One of the most exciting parts of being a riflery instructor is getting to name the guns. The girls enjoy calling the guns by their names and returning each year to shoot their favorite gun. We have Annie Oakley and Drop Dead Fred for the classic Westerns, Draco Malfoy and Captain Jack Sparrow from recent big movies, Guildenstern from Shakespeare, and Big Daddy, Bad Momma, and Little Bertha too. Some old favorites who have since been retired are the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Oscar the Grouch, and Old Dirty Betty. I chose to name one of our new guns “Spell” in honor of Jane Spell, who has always been a part of the rifle range to me even before I met her. The gun reads “Spell” and then in a smaller print: “eating bullets since 1977.” This summer the campers were so excited to shoot the new gun. Every time we had a new group at the range, someone would ask, “Is Spell named for Jane Spell?” Their next question would then be: “Did she REALLY eat a bullet in ’77?” I wasn’t there in 1977, so I can’t for sure say if she did, but I do know Jane Spell became a Rockbrook legend when it was written in the cabinet!

—Leah Mayo


Comment section

Leave your reply on “Ate a Bullet”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Avatar for Dolly
    11 years ago

    Jane Spell ate a bullet. I have no doubt. She is a woman of steel.
    I love the special recognition she gets by having an RBC rifle named after her!!!
    There is no greater honor.
    I have the privilege of knowing both Leah and Spell.
    They both exemplify Rockbrook spirit.
    Great blog, Leah!

  2. Avatar for Jane Spell Smith
    Jane Spell Smith
    11 years ago

    Nothing is better than this!!! Thank you, Leah. I have been on Cloud Nine all day. I cannot express the feelings I am having adequately. To be part of RBC lore and honored in such a way has made me very happy, very proud and especially grateful that I grew up at Rockbrook Camp and experienced so many wonderful moments with friends that still mean the world to me. The bullet story is a funny one and still makes me want to roll around laughing when I think about it all of these years later. I did indeed ingest a bullet, though, quite by accident. It was hard explaining to the camp nurse that I was scared that I would be shot from the inside out! It was even harder trying to explain to her, and Teed by that time, how it actually happened. I didn’t explode but I was teased mercilessly for weeks. Every morning at breakfast the head table would clap their hands and ask me this, “Jane Spell, has the danger passed?” I am blushing again as if I am in that dining hall right this minute. Shortly I will send you the whole story so that you will have all the facts and can report the event as it happened. Hopefully I will be able to embellish it a little…just for effect. Kilroy made me do it.