"craze" or what you like) that breeds that many new shooters is all bad. True, quick draw can be dangerous; but so can taking a bath be dangerous. More people are injured annually by bathtub falls than by guns in all of the gun sports put together. Instead of crying out for the abolition of either quick draw or bathing (as some of the more conservative shooting groups are doing), let's apply a few commonsense cautions. Do that, and quick draw is as safe as any other gun sport, and safer than bathing!
You can make it safe—with wax bullets.
Ever since the invention of the matchlock musket, ammunition makers have racked their brains to make better loads for everything from paper-punching to pachyderms. The quick-draw "craze" (if that's what you want to call it) has sold more guns and ammunition in the last few years than any other shooting sport except hunting; yet no commercial manufacturer has come up with a factory load for quick draw. Luckily, it's the easiest load in the world to make; you can do it with or without handloading tools, with or without handloading experience. I'll tell you how; but, first, let's have a look at this furor about safety.
Everyone who likes guns (and I love 'em) is for gun safety. All of us know that every gun "accident," every misuse of guns, gives added impetus to the efforts of certain groups to prohibit all guns and all shooting. Nobody denies that there have been a good many, far too many, quick draw accidents. But the remedy is not to abolish quick draw. There are too many hunting accidents, too; but many of the very people who are deploring quick draw because of accidents are leaders in the hunter-education programs that are reducing hunting accidents. Why not give quick draw the same common-sense treatment?
Lurid newspaper notices encourage the misconception that, in quick draw, safety is tossed out the window. "Man kills child while practicing quick draw" not only brought tragedy to a Chicago family but put some mighty strained expressions on the faces of Chicagoland shooters. Every so-
Top guns Ojala and Bodrie pose with holster rig made by Arvo for Joe. Both are deeply concerned over safety in gun handling, are leaders in safe quick draw movement.
called "Fast Gun" who shoots himself in the leg has put the cause of shooting back five years in his region, if his "accident" (which is another name for "his own dam-phoolishness") reaches the newspapers. Out here in California, a Los Angeles city councilman is, I'm told, trying to get a bill passed that will give about 60% of California's shooters the blessings of New York's notorious Sullivan Law. Fuel for this anti-gun campaign is unquestionably provided by local "accidents" which have resulted from quick-draw practice.
I have travelled extensively as a quick-draw exhibition shooter, staging performances in Colt gun stores and more recently for Pontiac automobile dealers. When I started with
Bodrie uses loader of own invention to fill batch of unprimed hulls with wax pressed from block of paraffine. Next step is to ready primer plate on top of wax-loaded shells and manually insert caps. Inexpensive device is rapid loader for wax-bullet quick draw practice.
Bodrie loads Colt Single Action with cases that hold only primers and wax bullets, for safest quick-draw "live ammo" practice. French set firing similar bullets (right) was made by Gastinne Rennett, had face and hand guards.
Colt's Patent Firearms Mfg. Co. several years ago, the first thing Fred Roff told me was that safety came first, last, and always. Roff I now President of Colt's) said, "Guns don't kill people: people kill people!" That was a slogan I used constantly in my sales promotion for Colt's, and still do.
Among the worst offenders against safety in quick draw is the man (owner or gunsmith) who "reworks" well designed, carefully built guns into booby traps. Sam Colt and his designers put stiff main springs, knurled hammers, and a working trigger in the old Single Action—for the protection of its users. Every reputable gunmaker then and since has spared neither money nor effort to make his guns safe. Yet all over the country I've found guns with hammers bent, knurling polished off. main springs weakened so that the guns misfired and primers backed out to jam the cylinders because of weak hammers. My guns are the way Colt's made them, less normal wear—and I'm as fast as the best of them, have no holes in my legs, have never perforated a spectator, and have no misfires. I believe in and preach safety, and I practice what I preach.
Mutilated guns are not the only offenders. Worst of all, of course, is the "Fast Gun" who uses live, ball ammuni tion. One of these is the son of a Hollywood quick-draw "leather slapping" specialist. I spoke to this lad the other day; his dad is said to have offered $1000 to anyone who can beat the kid's draw. He's a nice boy, but I flipped when he said he was going to do exhibitions with ball ammunition. I've done thousands of exhibitions (he's done one), and I offered him some advice. But he said anybody who used anything but live loads was "a cap-gun artist." (He wouldn't talk about his dad's $1000 challenge; I could use that money!)
Understand, I'm not low-rating the moving picture-TV gunslingers; they're fast, really fast. Each one is helping promote quick draw, and I hope it goes on forever! Of course, most of them are not concerned with accuracy; they use blanks, and if they pull the gun smoothly and fast, and snap a cap, the job is done. If they hurry too much and snap the cap before the gun clears the leather, the error can be corrected in the cutting room. You can't do that when the gun is loaded with ball ammo. I believe in hits, and insist that my records include them; but hits don't have to be with lethal lead bullets! Up to 30 feet (and that's fair if not long gunfighting distance), wax bullets will give you plenty of accuracy and prove just as certainly as any lead slug could do it, where your shot landed.
And the wax-bullet load I'm recommending is safe. Oh, it will sting bare flesh, or through thin clothing; but a sting, and maybe even a powder burn, is a far cry from having 250 grains of hot lead driven a foot or so into your leg muscle.
There's nothing new about wax bullets for combat-type practice. Police and other law enforcement organizations used them, for training. And the reason I used that line, "186,000 Americans can't be wrong," was to remind you of the famous remark, "40 million Frenchmen can't be wrong." You see, a Frenchman invented the wax bullet, back about 1870. His name was Devilliers, and he compounded a special wax to be used in breech loading single shot pistols for duelling practice. Only a primer cap was used—no powder; and 20 yards was the maximum distance. Keeping the gun cool was recommended, so the wax bullet would take the rifling and fly accurately.
French shooters in the 1880s took duelling seriously, used the Devilliers bullet for (Continued on page 58)
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