In his high school yearbook, Val Forgett wrote his goal in life was, “to produce and market replica firearms.” Clearly, this was a goal he accomplished.
Val graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University in 1956 after serving in the US Army at the Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen, Maryland. It was his combination of education in engineering and arms that would serve as the basis for Val’s life work, a company called Navy Arms.
In the 1950’s, Val became active in the North-South Skirmish Association, a new organization that held competitive shoots in Civil War uniforms. Val saw the need for good quality, affordable replicas for skirmishers and re-enactors to use.
In 1957 he traveled to Italy and began a relationship with the gun makers of the Gardone Valley that served as the basis not just for Navy Arms, but also for all replica firearms companies to follow.
Val’s first guns were the Civil War era 1851 Navy and Griswald revolvers used by the North and the South. The Navy Arms line rapidly grew to encompass
nearly all military arms of the 19th century.
Val next expanded to producing lever action guns of the Old West, starting with the Model 1866, then the 1873 and Henry rifles. Val was the first to produce over 100 different model replicas. This accomplishment was recognized in 1977 when Val was knighted a “Cavalier” by the Italian Government. His hard work and vision had not just created Navy Arms, but the entire replica firearms industry.
SASS owes Val a huge debt of thanks for initiating the flow of Italian firearm replicas to the ranks of Cowboy Action Shooters.
Val passed away on November 25th, 2002 at the age of 72, but his accomplishments and his vision live on through the thousands of shooters who use his guns.