From: http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2015/3/5/throwback-thursday-pistol-shooting/ Originally printed in The American Rifleman, March 1927 By W. E. Fairbairn, Chief Instructor, Shanghai Police, Shanghai, China PART I If you are keen on winning silver cups, seeing your photograph in the papers as the pistol champion, or think that pistol shooting is only a sport, you had better not trouble to read this any further, because the method described will upset your "bullseye" shooting and prevent you from ever becoming a target champion. It is written for the man who is liable to be shot at and killed at any moment. For him it ceases to become a sport but is a matter of life and death. We hear so much about the poor shooting of the police, how they do not know one end of the gun from the other, and how, if they would only take up serious instruction on the lines as laid down for the Army and Navy there would be a great improvement. This being so (personally I doubt it), does it not seem strange that the percentage of expert target shots with the one-hand gun of the armies and navies of the world is less than 5 per cent? Yet it is their profession and the least one should expect from professionals is a much higher percentage of efficiency. This, on the face of it, looks as if something is wrong, and the question arises, is it the method of instruction, or the men? Everyone knows that it is the ambition of every red-blooded man to be able to use the one-hand gun. That being so—and keen-ness to learn is recognized as half the battle— the trouble must be in the method of instruction. From our experience of army, navy, and police methods of instruction, which extends over the past twenty-six years, we give it as our opinion that it is the method of instruction that is wrong, not the men. There is no reason in the world why any man of average intelligence cannot become a good and safe one-hand gun shot, providing he is keen, and with the automatic pistol taking the place of the pistol and revolver, the length of time accessary to bring a man to a high standard of efficiency is considerably reduced. Our preference for the automatic pistol is briefly as follows: Our experience, the result of years of instructing with both weapons, has clearly shown that it takes five times the amount of ammunition to make a man as proficient with the revolver, compared with the automatic pistol, also years of practice are required with the revolver, to get used to the "feel" of the gun. Whereas the automatic pistol fits the hand, and even the novice immediately gets the feeling of a sense of direction when handling it for the first time, which is far more than the old timers can say when they first took up shooting with the old .45 Single Action. Revolver ammunition is not so reliable as automatic pistol ammunition, the percentage of miss-fires being approximately:Automatic pistol ammunition—1 per 10,000 rounds Revolver ammunition—5 per 1,000 rounds. These figures refer to ammunition from reputable firms, not home-loaded cartridges. Further, although it may seem strange, revolver ammunition will not stand up to rough and careless handling to the extent that automatic pistol ammunition will. We do not altogether condemn the revolver, and there are certain occasions when we would prefer to carry one in preference to the automatic pistol; such as when the gun must be carried concealed and the shooting done through the pocket or cloak; but when we are looking for our man, we want the automatic pistol on account of its greater rapidity of fire, well knowing that we can prevent the other man from firing a second shot, providing we both started off with an "even break." To become a good automatic pistol shot, one must remember right at the start that the automatic pistol is, or should be, carried for quick work at very close range, under such conditions where it would be almost impossible to use a rifle of carbine. There will be no time to line up the backsight with the foresight, and if your shot takes longer than a third of a second in the "let off" you are not going to be the one to tell the newspapers about it. It is obvious that the foundation of practical automatic pistol shooting is speed, and more speed. Always bear in mind that if your shot is a tenth of a second in advance of the other man he will not hit you with his shot, and there is always this certainty that your shot will upset your, opponent's accuracy in the event of its having missed. Take the records of the New York and Chicago police and see if the average distance at which effective shooting has taken place, both at and by the police during the past five years—long, if you like—and we shall be surprised if it is over five feet (not yards). It does not take much power of imagination to see that at that distance it is a question of the greatest possible speed, and owing to the disconcerting knowledge of knowing that the other man is trying to kill you, your firing will have to be done instinctively, and the greater the volume of fire you can put in the greater the chance of your living. We advocate in our method: Grip the pistol as if it was 30 or 40 pounds in weight. Try to imagine the target is an armed assailant who is shooting back at you. Cultivate the offensive spirit, and if your time is up—well, die fighting. When you can get that spirit into your shooting, you have some idea of what practical pistol shooting really is and the "wild and wooly West" stories you have read will appear more understandable. When you read of pistol shooting at 20, 30, and 50 yards forget it. If your shooting is going to be at that range, start in right away with a high-power carbine with which you could get your man long before he would have time to draw his one-hand gun, without even having to raise the carbine from the hip. Records show that the number of hits made with the one-hand gun at ranges of 20 yards and over (under practical conditions such as previously described), are so few that they are not worth worrying about. We do not expect the expert bullseye target shots to agree with us in this method, but we are of opinion it is far and away superior (for getting effective results) to any other method we have previously seen. All we ask is that they will give it a fair trial, after which they can come back to us for all they are worth. We shall be ready for them. The man who unavoidably kills another with a loaded automatic pistol does not exist. "I thought it was not loaded" is the usual cry. It is, therefore, obvious that the first thing in instruction is safety precautions: The automatic pistol should be regarded as always loaded until the magazine has been removed and the slide worked—i.e., pulled back to its full extent several times; this will eject the cartridge from the breech, should one happen to be inserted. When a jam occurs: Keep the pistol in the firing hand, barrel pointing towards the ground at an angle of 45 degrees from the body. Remove the magazine and work the slide. It is surprising how many men would, if not prevented, look down the barrel when a jam occurs. When carrying a pistol, loaded or unloaded, it must be held at the "ready position": arm straight at an angle of 45 degrees from the body, pistol pointing towards the ground. This is the safest method of carrying a pistol, and it allows the weapon to be brought up to the firing position much quicker than is possible from any other position; further, the fact that one is armed is not widely advertised. The pistol is not intended for use as a signaling flag. It is advisable that a little empty pistol practice should first of all be had so as to get the feel and balance of the pistol—care being taken to prove the pistol empty. Ready Position—To find the correct position: Stand square with the object, feet apart, taking deliberate aim at the center of the object. When correct, lower the pistol, bring it down in a vertical line so that the pistol is in line with the center of the body. If the wrist has not been moved up or down, left or right, the correct position will be: Facing the target, arm straight, pistol a continuation of the right arm, with a slight twist of the wrist towards the right hand side. (Fig. 1.) Variation in grip is a common error when firing with the automatic pistol, resulting in scattered shots. To overcome this, grip the pistol firmly as if it was 30 or 40 pounds in weight. Note.—Attention is called to the fact that the only unnatural part of the Ready Position is the slight twist of the wrist towards the right-hand side. This twist of the wrist amounts to nothing more or less than the alignment of the sights, etc., by sense of feel, in a manner resembling that of the golfer when gripping the club before commencing the swing to drive. Keeping both eyes focused on the center of the object, and taking care the right thumb is straight and parallel with the bottom of the slide, raise the pistol in a smooth upward movement from the shoulder (Vertical Lift), and when it cuts the line of sight, make a pause of a fraction of a second. (Figs. 1 and 2.) Fire the pistol by releasing the trigger with an equal pressure of fingers and thumb, then immediately release the trigger to allow the sear to re-engage and return to the Ready Position. (Fig. 3) As previously stated, a shot that takes longer to fire than one-third of a second is wasted. It is, therefore, obvious that there is not sufficient time to align the sights, in addition to bringing the pistol up to the object. All men who make 100 per cent score at surprise targets fire with both eyes open, although in some cases they are unconscious of doing so. This is the only practical way of firing a pistol, as a trial will convince anyone that with both eyes open the master eye always takes charge.