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GUNS Magazine February 2013 Digital Edition - Page 82
WIsdOm Of the aGes it’s all at youR FingeRtips. I t is the best of times; it is the worst of times. We won’t dwell on the latter, however when it comes to firearms these are definitely the best of times. We have the “best” guns ever offered to the shooting public. For the most part they are stronger, held to tighter tolerances, relatively cheaper, (at least until the powers that be did such a job on our dollar—oops, that is part of the worst of times and we don’t need to go there!) The proliferation of production firearms is proverbially mind-boggling. Catalogs are crammed with every possible choice as to action, finish, price, and chambering. influential shooters. Even before Skelton and Cooper began sharing their knowledge there were many others disseminating their knowledge. The writings of Elmer Keith go all the way back to the 1920s, however there are those who were both contemporaries of his and even preceded him; men who contributed in a large way to the wisdom of the ages. We are living in an age when everything is obsolete an hour later, so it is not surprising to find older firearms literature somewhat dated. This does not mean we cannot glean invaluable knowledge Wisdom awaits! from the writers of yesteryear. Some of these men who can still provide us with both information and entertainment in alphabetical order are John Henry FitzGerald, Ed McGivern, Bob Nichols, and Walter Winans. Let us take a brief look at their contributions and what they still have to offer us. The finest gunsmiths who have ever plied their trade are alive today and they have the best tools and raw materials to work with. The exhibition shooters of yesteryear have nothing on today’s crop of both men and women. Put a semi-automatic in the hands of Robbie Leatham, give Jerry Miculek a double-action revolver, and allow Bob Munden to pick up a single-action sixgun and prepare to be amazed. We often assign mystical properties to gunwriters of old, however compare a copy of GUNS or American Handgunner to early issues and the amount of information provided and the boggling of the mind rivals that felt when we contemplate the proliferation of firearms. As blessed as we are with today’s situation we still must not lose the benefit of looking to the past. Anytime sixgunners gather and reminisce there are certain names that come up very quickly, names of the men who influenced all of us; the obvious ones being, at least for me, Elmer Keith, Skeeter Skelton, and Jeff Cooper. However, these are just a couple of names in a long list of 82 John Henry FitzGerald—“Fitz”— author of Shooting, 1930: From 1918 until 1944 Fitz was the face of Colt, their goodwill ambassador and expert at tuning Colt revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. Fitz’s book is certainly dated, being over 80 years old, 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, much of what we still use today is evident including 2-handed Weaver-stance style shooting. Everybody who had anything to do with handguns knew Fitz. Fitz had the reputation as the fastest in the world with a double-action sixgun and he carried a pair of specially altered .45 Colt New Services in his front trouser pockets. These were not ordinary New Services, which is a large double-action sixgun by anyone’s definition. They do not fit easily into a pants pocket, so Fitz made them fit. Barrels were cut back to 2", the grip frame was shortened, the hammer was bobbed so it would not catch on clothing, however enough was left so an expert at double-action shooting could start the hammer back with the trigger action and then use the thumb to cock it for deliberate single-action fire. What became known as Fitz Specials, had, for quick access to the trigger, the front of the triggerguard removed. That alone makes reading his book worthwhile. Ed McGivern, author of Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting, 1938: Ed McGivern is the fastest man with a double-action sixgun who ever lived, at least until modern times and Jerry Miculek. Unlike Jerry, McGivern also used Single Action Colts in his exhibition shooting and was unbelievably fast fanning the hammer and putting all five shots into the area of a playing card. McGivern’s book covers just about every aspect of shooting continued on page 81 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 3