When I was a youngster, our rural community was watched over by a one-eyed constable who had a great reputation as a marksman. The cause of his celebrity was a historic incident in which he shot his revolver at a stray dog suspected of having rabies and hit it between the eyes. Depending on which eyewitness you believed, the distance of his remarkable shot could have been 100, 200 or 300 yards. The afflicted animal was also running, by the way. So even if only the lesser yardage is correct, it was still an incredible demonstration of keen-eyed marksmanship.
Another renowned incident in this dedicated peacekeeper’s history was his shoot-out with an escaped convict. Each emptied his revolver in the other’s direction, the result being the loss of the desperado’s thumb and his subsequent surrender to our hero. The scene of the gunfight was the inside of an otherwise empty one-car garage.
About the time of this legendary feat, I was becoming fascinated by firearms and their use and spent some time pondering how it was possible that of a dozen shots fired, only one had any effect. My doubts about the steely-nerved marksmanship exhibited in this sort of combat were further reinforced when I read an account of a shoot-out in a crowded Texas saloon a century earlier. Armed with what I suppose were six-shooters, the opposing deadeyes managed to hit every window and lamp, plugged the piano over 40 times and even sent the saloon cat to that big catnip patch in the sky. But there were no other casualties. This is what I call either a superb demonstration of gun safety or a world-class display of mass missing.
There are as many reasons for missing as there are shooters. Everyone seems to be gifted with his own unique genius for missing whatever target he sets his sights on. Yet when we filter out our individual variations, the real reasons for poor shooting become a manageable few.
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