A primer from American legend Wyatt Earp, who is renowned for having a little experience (a-HENH!) in the field.
I was a fair hand with pistol, rifle, or shotgun, but I learned more about gunfighting from Tom Speer’s cronies during the summer of ’71 than I had dreamed was in the book. Those old-timers took their gunplay seriously, which was natural under the conditions in which they lived. Shooting, to them, was considerably more than aiming at a mark and pulling a trigger. Models of weapons, methods of wearing them, means of getting them into action and operating them, all to the one end of combining high speed with absolute accuracy, contributed to the frontiersman’s shooting skill.
The sought-after degree of proficiency was that which could turn to most effective account the split-second between life and death. Hours upon hours of practice, and wide experience in actualities supported their arguments over style.
When I say that I learned to take my time in a gunfight, I do not wish to be misunderstood, for the time to be taken was only that split fraction of a second that means the difference between deadly accuracy with a sixgun and a miss. It is hard to make this clear to a man who has never been in a gunfight.
I imagine it would be, yeah. When the two-way shooting range goes hot, maintaining the requisite mental calm is gonna be pretty damned tough for a man who hasn’t ever stared down a gun-muzzle to look imminent death straight in the eye.
Perhaps I can best describe such time taking as going into action with the greatest speed of which a man’s muscles are capable, but mentally unflustered by an urge to hurry or the need for complicated nervous and muscular actions which trick-shooting involves. Mentally deliberate, but muscularly faster than thought, is what I mean. (What Wyatt meant is that he made the decision to shoot a long time before the trigger was pulled.)
In all my life as a frontier police officer, I did not know a really proficient gunfighter who had anything but contempt for the gun-fanner, or the man who literally shot from the hip. In later years I read a great deal about this type of gunplay, supposedly employed by men noted for skill with a forty-five.
From personal experience and numerous six-gun battles which I witnessed, I can only support the opinion advanced by the men who gave me my most valuable instruction in fast and accurate shooting, which was that the gun-fanner and hip-shooter stood small chance to live against a man who, as old Jack Gallagher always put it, took his time and pulled the trigger once.
TONS more fascinating stuff here, which will be of intense interest to shooters and history buffs alike. What better time to run another clip from one the very best movies EVAR.
“You nerve-wrackin’ sonsabitches.” “Skin that smoke-wagon and see what happens.” “Oh. Johnny, I apologize, I forgot you were there. You may go now.” Heh. So many great, unforgettable lines in that movie—up to and including a brief Latin-dialogue exchange between Johnny Ringo and Doc Holliday, no less—it almost beggars belief.