Shooting versus gunfighting

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Shooting versus gunfighting

Postby Nathan » Mon May 04, 2015 7:40 pm

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Re: Shooting versus gunfighting

Postby ridurall » Mon May 04, 2015 10:17 pm

Quite an interesting read and old Wyatt put a lot of wisdom in those words. It's been said that the old face to face quick draw gun fight really didn't happen with the modern Peacemaker. At that time if the man was a reasonable shot it was whomever went for his gun first that won. Kind of like catching the dropped dollar bill. No one is faster than the person that drops the bill. I remember 30 years or so ago spending an evening at the Flying W Ranch in Colorado. They had a guy there that was often used in western movies as a quick draw artist. He could draw and fire in 13 one hundreds of a second. It takes 18 one hundreds of a second to blink if I remember correctly. I watched that guy have a person come up from the crowd and hold his hands ready to clap about 6" appart with the quick draw artist's hand in between them. He told them to clap when he went for his gun. He was so fast that it looked like a video trick except it was live. He would just suddenly have his gun in between the person's hands before they could clap. He did this so fast I could not see him move, draw and put a cocked (empty) gun between the person's hands. It simply was just suddenly there gun and all. If the man was accurate there was no way to beat him by waiting for him to draw first like the guys in the white hats did in the movies. However with this generation of western or cowboy shootist the accuracy and speed has climbed to a point unheard of as much as 30 years ago. When you look at how fast Miclick can draw and shoot (of course he is using double action handguns) and many of the well practiced cowboy shooters I can't imagine just how they would perform against the old time cowboy. Many of them are quite accurate in their fast shooting to the point of hitting playing cards every time. With all that said it still comes down to what Wyatt said.

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Re: Shooting versus gunfighting

Postby Hand and Steel » Thu May 07, 2015 6:38 pm

Rex Applegate, best known perhaps for his advocacy of point shooting, once found a letter written by Wild Bill Hickok while studying the methods of the Old West's most famous gunfighters. In this letter, Hickok described his method of shooting a revolver as bringing the gun to eye level and pointing it like a finger.

This is the same basic method as Applegate's preferred means of shooting a handgun - from the "point shoulder" position - pointing the pistol naturally like a finger, with no use of the sights, from eye level. During WWII Applegate trained in point shooting under both WE Fairbairn in the US and EA Sykes in the UK. While Fairbairn and Sykes started their students out with shooting one handed from eye level, they taught a continuum of techniques including extreme close quarters defensive shooting, one handed shooting from below eye level for use at typical gunfighting distances, and sighted fire from a two handed "Isosceles" position for shooting at distances in excess of 10 yards - long before two handed shooting was considered fashionable. The method they emphasized the most was shooting from what they termed the "3/4 hip" position - this is one handed point shooting with the pistol held below eye level, and the arm approximately 3/4 of the way extended. It was their belief, from firsthand personal experience in gunfights and the experience of others' whose battles they studied, that in the majority of situations shots would be fired from within 4 yards, with survival going to whoever was faster.

Despite his instruction under Fairbairn and Sykes, Applegate's preference during the war and after was for one handed point shooting with the arm fully extended and the gun held at eye level, although for longer ranges he taught two handed sighted fire, from both the "Isosceles" and what we would now refer to as a "Weaver stance", again, before that was popular. He stated in some of his work that shooting from the 3/4 and similar, while slightly faster from the ready position, required more skill to be accurate, and was not worth the slight increase in speed. He outright condemned what most colloquially call "hip shooting" in favor of shooting from "point shoulder". Fairbairn and Sykes, on the other hand, were of the opinion that in close quarters gun battles it was not only more logical, but also instinctive to fire from below eye level.

Later in his life, however, Applegate's position on the subject underwent a slight revision, in which he began advocating Fairbairn and Sykes' old methods of shooting with the gun fired from below eye level for closer range work, which is what they were intended for - Fairbairn and Sykes emphasized these techniques due to their stated position that the vast majority of shootouts with handguns occur at very short range - they were certainly not suggesting that these methods be used for long range work. However, Applegate still advocated firing from the point shoulder position for intermediate distances.

Perhaps this shift occurred due to different priorities in who was being trained and for what purpose. Applegate's original objective was to develop methods of shooting for military personnel where ranges might be expected to be slightly longer, whereas Fairbairn and Sykes developed their methods from gunfighting experience as policemen in an extremely violent city where shootouts and fatalities on both sides were a part of the routine - with the vast majority of them occurring within 4 yards. Later on, Applegate seems to have spent more time training police than military, which is one possible reason for the shift in priorities. There are other possibilities as well.
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