Wednesday, September 16, 2009

GBR IV: Skin That Smoke Wagon!

Sunday morning started with breakfast at 730, with a much diminished crowd--it looks like most folks could get Friday, or Thursday and Friday, off, but not Monday as well. We all crammed into two vehicles and made our way to Virginia City, for Cowboy Fast Draw at the Camel Races. (And, no, I don't know why they have camel races in Virginia City, NV, and we didn't stay to watch.)

Cowboy Fast Draw is a present-day evolution of the fast draw fad of the 1950s, which also spawned several other "action shooting" disciplines/sports. In this format, two shooters armed with single-action revolvers loaded with cartridges that consist of wax projectiles powered by shotgun primers (no other powder!) stand side by side, facing two targets. The targets are 24" metal disks, with a light in the middle; it is coated with lithium grease for conductivity. When the wax "bullet" strikes the disk, the hit is registered.

The timer gives the command "Shooters, set", which tells the shooters that the timer has started; after a random interval (2-5 seconds, unknown in advance to anyone) the lights go on, at which point the shooters, shoot. Assuming both shooters hit the targets, the light for the target hit first starts blinking. The targets are wired to record the time interval between the light going on and the bullets' strike, to the thousandths of seconds.

We ran a modified tournament format, each of us shooting three times, each relay being best three out of however many shots it took.

I was pretty fast, when I hit the target--instinctive shooting is not my style, and it was nearly always self-defeating to bring the pistol up to try and aim, taking a few extra tenths of a second, which can make a difference.

As I mentioned, Cowboy Fast Draw evolved from the fast Draw fad of the 50s. In it's present incarnation, according to "Cody", the president of the Cowboy Fast Draw Association, who talked to us before the event started, it began around the beginning of the millennium, with the Cowboy Fast Draw Association being formed in 2002.

In fact, that fast draw fad led to most of today's action shooting sports: Jeff Cooper speaks of "Leather Slap Days at Big Bear", which led to his development of the "Modern Technique of the Pistol"; Leather Slap also led to the establishment of the International Practical Shooting Confederation/United States Practical Shooting Association
, and, in what may best be described as a schism, International Defensive Pistol Association. (USPSA is also the "home" of the Steel Challenge Shooting Association; I skipped the Steel Challenge shooting Saturday AM.)

IPSC/IDPA in turn developed into Cowboy Action Shooting (Single Action Shooting Society), which further evolved--or perhaps "devolved" is a better word--in Cowboy Fast Draw.

Now, for years there had been something of a philosophical feud between LTC Jeff Cooper, USMCR (RET) and LTC Rex Applegate, USA (RET.) Cooper (pbuh) had, as I mentioned above, developed the Modern Technique of the Pistol, which called for a two-handed firing stance and the use of the sights. Applegate (pbuh) developed his system of point shooting while working with the OSS in WWII; it calls for developing your kinesthetic response to the point (pun not intended!) that you can instinctively shoot at and hit your target without use of the sights at all. The shot is almost always taken as soon as one draws from the holster, and is sometimes called "hip shooting".

I think the problem I was having was that most of my pistol shooting has been done using the Modern technique, and I am simply not used to Point Shooting. Possibly LTC Cooper (pbuh) had a point (pun really not intended this time!)--assuming a two-handed firing position and getting a "flash sight picture" only takes a few thousandths of a second more, and results in a lot more (and more effective) hits, so maybe this style of shooting is more effective. I have long suspected that Point Shooting is very difficult, if not nearly impossible, for some to learn, or at least to0 master, and that for the general population, the Modern Technique may be superior.

My own experience at Cowboy Fast Draw is hardly conclusive.
US Citizen of Traction Control dressed for the event; being from Texas, this may be the way he dresses all the time...

He placed third overall, among the Gun Bloggers.

Note that, despite the fact that this is supposed to be instinctive shooting, we are both bringing the pistol up to eye level--the really good times (sub .8 seconds) were brought in by shooters who were "hip shooting", as LTC Applegate would have advocated. I forget who said "Make haste, slowly", it might have been Wyatt Earp, but Earp did say "Be accurate, fast!"
Here's me missing--again.

Good shot of the targets, although you might not be able to really make it out, the center is about a three inch diameter clear section. The slathering of the target with white lithium grease somewhat obscures it. Still, you can see the light through the grease, to now when it's OK to miss.

Most of my shots were going high. The Colt Model P "Peacemaker" is supposed to be a well-pointing gun, but if you are not used to shooting in that manner, it can still take some getting used to.

All in all, this was a lot of fun, but I don't know if I will invest in yet another shooting sport...

1 comment:

USCitizen said...

Only after seeing the photo am I (now) aware that I was bringing the gun so high.

Practice is definitely needed to get the shot times down.