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American Handgunner Sep/Oct 2010 - Page 70
THE SIXGUNNER Fitz (in front, stretched out) relaxes with a group of shooters at Camp Perry. John Taffin They CAlled s with all boys from time immemorial, the young lad was curious while at the same time somewhat bored with nothing to do. Going into his father’s office he started looking through drawers in the Fitz hard at work big desk finding nothing smoothing out a Colt. of interest. Then he came across a small cardboard box and opening it, found an engraved, silver-plated, ivory-stocked .22 revolver. He was only 10, however he knew what it was and also how to shoot it, at least point it, and pull the trigger. Just before stumbling on the .22 he found a box of cigars, and I well remember when I was his age how fascinating cigars were, for a very short time. He left the cigars where they were and put the .22 into his pants pocket and began the hunt for cartridges. When he found a box of .22 shorts he was ready to shoot; or at least he thought so. He left his father’s business office and went looking for a suitable target quickly finding a tin can; he then hiked four miles to get away from any houses. He was smart enough to start up close placing the can on a stump and backing up 15'. He carefully looked the revolver over, loaded it, and pointed it in the direction of the can. At the first shot there was a howl as another boy came out of the bushes beside the stump with a .22 hole in his big toe. Needless to say, the young guy was in for a lot of trouble when he got home, where he was disarmed and sent to bed. The gun was hidden, however he did find it after several months, saved up enough money to buy ammunition and convinced his father We showed it in our last issue, but it’s too good not to look at again . Fitz’s special long-range .38 Colt Single Action Army featured a rifle style rear sight . a bottle of genuine and an 1860 “Fitz” gun oil! And grip frame. that’s a clean 1903 .380 hiding behind it. Colt’s legendary gun-guy ” “ him FiTz A This Fitz Special was made by Fitz for Col. Rex Applegate. he now knew how to be careful and was able to keep the gun. This took place in 1886, and John Henry Fitzgerald learned his lessons well; it was his first and only firearms accident from that time until he died in 1945. The Beginning He soon bought a better .22, a single-shot pistol, shooting it close to the target until he could hit consistently at 15'. Once this was accomplished he gradually moved backward extending the distance to 15 yards. By then he decided he needed a better pistol and bought two heavier .22s with 10" barrels. From that time forward he always purchased his pistols in pairs so he could shoot with both right and left hands simultaneously. As John Henry grew older, he learned to be more proficient on bull’s-eye targets and added quick draw and rapid fire work to his regular target practice. By now he had gone beyond .22s and reloaded for 15 different cartridges. Being somewhat mechanically inclined he started taking both pistols and revolvers apart to see how they worked and before long he was correcting trigger pulls and smoothing interior parts. He was well on his way to become the man who would soon be known throughout the shooting world as Fitz. From 1918 until 1944 Fitz was the face of Colt, their goodwill ambassador, and expert at tuning Colt revolvers and semiauto pistols. There are many classic books from the 1930s, however Fitz came first. His monumental work Shooting, was published in 1930. Fitz’s book is certainly dated, being over 80 years old, as are the others too. However, guns and cartridges may change, but basics remain the same. When reading through Fitz’s book, especially the sections concerning quick draw, self-defense, and police techniques I thought I saw a Continued on page 92 Taffin’s Fitz Special was made by Andy Horvath. 70 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER2010