There was a time when the gun club check—a pattern marked by alternating broken bands in two or more colors on a light background—bore no relationship to armed recreation. Wearing it actually meant that you were a gamekeeper or other worker in the Coigach district of Scotland’s Northwest Highlands. At that time (about 1847 to the mid 1870’s) it was quite appropriately known as the Coigach, one of a series of “district checks” fashioned for particular Scottish estates.
But in 1874, one of the American Gun Clubs adopted the pattern for their own purposes, and the name stuck. At first, it referred exclusively to the Coigach’s distinctive weave, which featured black and red bands alternating evenly on a white field. Over time, though, the term became a catchall for any type of similar pattern. Now, gun club checks can feature any kind of color scheme the wearer—or weaver—desires, and the bands can alternate evenly, or switch things up to create larger overcheck effects. As for where you’ll ending up sporting the pattern: It’s a whole lot more likely to feature at the office than the shooting range, but if you’re feeling like firing off a few in your woolen finery? Well, we’re not going to stop you.