History testifies to the fact that there were not very many "classic" gunfights in the old West. Of those, Wild Bill Hickok fought far more than his share. But today, there are athletes who could probably beat Wild Bill to the draw and maybe even shoot straighter. They compete in two different forms of quick draw competition--one of which even uses handguns identical to those used more than a century ago.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Decide whether you want to learn Cowboy Fast Draw or Ohio Fast Draw. Go to the website of the associations of each type of competition and develop an understanding of the difference.
Choose cowboy fast draw because it uses historically accurate weapons. Find a club sanctioned by the Cowboy Fast Draw Association (CFDA). Contact the club and go to a meeting, practice session or event.
Become schooled in handgun safety if you are a beginner. (No sense in shooting yourself in the foot.) Some of the clubs offer instruction for beginners. If yours does not, check with a local firing range.
Decide to become a thumber. Buy your rig--an Andy Anderson holster and a Fast Draw Old Model Ruger Blackhawk .45 Caliber pistol.
Find the proper position for your rig by allowing your arm to hang straight down in a relaxed position. Raise your forearm and extend your index finger (bang, gotcha!). Position your rig opposite the position of your elbow. Adjust the holster's shank as needed as you develop your own thumbing style.
Emulate Jan Owen's description of the draw: "Draw your thumb across the hammer as you throw your hips forward, and your shoulders come back, while at the same time getting your three fingers against the butt, grasping the gun as it pops out of the holster, and you achieve your grip and lock the gun level, while at the very same time, pulling the trigger."
Repeat this maneuver hundreds of times a day until you can perform it in a fraction of a second.
Tips and warnings
- Thumbing involves much more than just the maneuver described by Jan Owen, including body position, mirror work and refinements in a shooter's rig. His discussion of thumbing in the gunfighters.com website deals with all of these. Most of the websites also have videos that demonstrate the technique and break it down its details. Your club will also have a thumber to help you.
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- Website of the Cowboy Fast Draw Association (CFDA)
- Website that details Ohio Fast Draw and thumbing versus fanning
- Webpage listing local clubs
- Instructional video in cowboy fast draw
- Source of links to all services needed to become a shooter
- Website that sells Andy Anderson holsters
- Detailed description by Jan Owens of thumbing