Western History & Genealogy Blog

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Gunfighter's Moon

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The Art of a Gun Fight

Legendary lawman Wyatt Earp once said that in order to survive a gunfight you didn’t need to be the fastest draw in town or even the quickest to unload your six gun. Instead, Earp believed that having the grit in your gut to take your time, aim, and actually hit what you were firing at were the best attributes of a serious gun hand. Earp also said that the models of weapons, methods of wearing them, the means of getting them into action and actually operating them were more important than just drawing your weapon and blazing away at a target. For instance, the gun was not cocked using the ball of the thumb, but low using the portion of the thumb between the ball joint and the web of the hand so the pistol was fully cocked as it cleared the holster. Most gunfighters also felt that hours upon hours of practice was better than any grandstanding and trick-shooting a person could do.

For another point of view, Wild Bill Hickok, considered by many to be the greatest gunfighter that ever lived, felt that one only went heeled if he meant to use his sidearm and when he did he struck with the most direct and “savage blows.” Simply put: If you pull your gun, shoot to kill. All of these attributes helped to create the legendary gunmen of the Old West and helped them survive in a time when the simplest dispute over a card game morphed into an exchange of hot lead. Checkout the library's photos of gunfighters here. Then ask yourself, do you  have the nerve to hold your water, stare down the barrel of the gun, and fire back?!?


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