Saturday, November 3, 2018

Gunfighters Then And Now

Gary Miller, Author
Did the gunslingers and lawmen of the old west invent a timeless method of combat shooting with a handgun?

In the 1950's, when my experience with handguns began, I was in my mid-teens. At that time, the two-hand hold on handguns was not yet the preferred handgun shooting criteria of the day. As a matter of fact, other than shooting from a sand bag rest for the purpose of testing ammunition or checking out the accuracy of a newly acquired gun, the two-hand hold was considered to be mostly for the ladies back then (or so I thought).

I had to do some reconsideration on that line of thinking after I ran across a WW-2 U.S. Army training film on YouTube that demonstrated the advantage of the two-hand hold with handguns at distant targets under combat conditions. But it also shows the advantage of instinctive (point shooting) at close range.

KILL OR GET KILLED Colonel, Rex Applegate Point Shooting Instructional Film --- GCT TV/US Army. You can check it out below:

But It wasn't until 1959 that pistol shooter and deputy sheriff Jack Weaver became successful in popularizing his two-hand shooting method which we now call the Weaver stance. But even the law enforcement community back then as a whole, did not adopt Weaver's handgun shooting method overnight.

As I remember, in the early 1960's the local city police in my area of Ohio were still practicing the one-hand military stance that was also used in formal target pistol matches. And one small township police department was still using that method in the early 1980's. But it was nothing that even resembled the one-hand instinct (point shooting) made famous by the gunslingers and lawmen of the old west.

Between the disciplines of formal match shooting and the popularization of the various forms of the two-hand hold presently used by range instructors for their students preparing for a concealed carry permit, there is not much being taught at your average gun range these days that would adequately prepare a person for a real life close encounter gunfight. Yes, the basic principles of grip, sight picture, and controlled trigger squeeze are very important, and must be practiced to give a new shooter enough proficiency to put a reasonable sized group of 5-10 shots into a standard target at 3-7-yards. But putting your life on the line in a close range gunfight under stressful conditions, is a whole new ball game.

I got to thinking a while back, that in a combat situation, to execute the sequence of a two-hand hold, you are completing a four-count move... Draw, Grip, Aim, and Fire. Yes, with a lot of practice, you can accomplish all this in a significantly small amount of time. But using a one-hand hold, and having developed your skill at point shooting, that sequence is now reduced to only a two-count move... Draw and Fire.

Point Shooting vs Flash Sight Picture:

The ability to shoot strait without the aid of sights, is not all that uncommon. It's just the fact that it is not taught much anymore that makes it seem a little strange. When you think about it, most everyone has demonstrated some form of point / instinct shooting 'skill' without knowing it. When you throw a baseball, softball, or even a football, you don't have the benefit of any type of mechanical, electronic, or telescopic sights to aid you. But you still likely have some degree of success at getting the ball to it's intended receiver or target.

Sin, Violence, and the Jones Boys
Old West, Winter 1982
Becoming proficient using [either] hand while shooting is also a must. Should you be wounded in your dominant hand, arm, or shoulder, you need the ability to still maintain fire with your non-dominant hand. But If and when you decide that you want to test your point shooting skills with a handgun, it cannot be over emphasized that you practice 'dry fire' with a gun that you have made SURE is EMPTY! Like many good preachers proclaim when they preach on the topic of salvation... “You must be SURE THAT YOU'RE SURE THAT YOUR'RE SURE!” Then continue dry fire practice until you are confident that you can safely draw and fire the gun at a shooting range. But you must also find a range that permits point shooting. And it would also be highly advisable to obtain the services of a competent firearms instructor for this, and for all phases of your training.

We have included a video here produced by Joel Persinger, a well known and highly qualified firearms instructor who demonstrates the common sense application of one-handed point shooting (at very close range) and one of the best two-hand shooting methods for more intermediate and longer ranges. I learned a few new things from this video myself.

Let's keep our firearms practice and concealed carry methods safe and legal to help insure that our Second Amendment rights are preserved.

Gary Miller

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