Retired Air Force pilot Jerry Dickson, 65, Layton, has become one of the best known collectors of antique guns in the Intermountain West and has won a wall full of trophies and prizes for his displays at gun shows.
Dickson, who retired from the Air Force in 1979 after 36 years of service, started collecting guns when he was a boy growing up in Hampshire, Ill., about 40 miles west of Chicago.He put his interest in hunting and gun collecting on hold when he joined the Army Air Force in 1943 in the midst of World War II. He was an airplane navigator for 18 months and then went to West Point where he graduated in 1951.
He flew a variety of fighter aircraft after that and, during the Vietnam War, flew F-100s. Dickson was stationed at Hill Air Force Base from 1972 to 1979 and when he retired he decided he liked Utah so much he would stay here.
During his years in the service, Dickson started collecting antique guns and has specialized in firearms from the very beginnings of gun powder in the 1400s until the advent of self-contained cartridge ammunition the mid-1800s.
Dickson will be among nearly a dozen collectors who will display exhibits during the Utah Gun Collector's annual Winter Gun Show at the Utah State Fairpark Colosseum Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 and 2. The show is open to the public and will start at 9 a.m. each day and close at 6 p.m. Saturday and at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Past president and current treasurer of the Utah Gun Collectors Association, Dickson has displayed exhibits of Scottish pistols, dirks and swords made from 1740 to 1830; blunderbusses from 1700 to 1830; Kentucky long rifles and their predecessors from 1600 to 1820; and early armor and handguns from 1600 to 1800.
This weekend, Dickson plans to display 25 handguns from the earliest days of gunpowder to the early 1900s, called horse pistols, that were worn in holsters over the saddle of cavalrymen's horses. This collection includes guns with ignition systems known as match lock, wheel lock, miquelette, flintlock and cap lock and also cartridge arms.