ACCURACY OF THOSE SHOOTING IRONS...

We all know what the movies and Western shows tell us about the old West, but what are the facts? Here, we’ll discuss what these truths are, and get a better idea of what life was like in the real West!
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ACCURACY OF THOSE SHOOTING IRONS...

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:32 pm

Renewed Fan:3971 wrote:The recent (re) discussion of how many shots Lucas fired in the opening sequence got me to thinking about accuracy.   So, here goes some thoughts:

(a) In 1876, the James gang raided Northfield, Minnesota and tried to rob two banks simultaneously.   A shootout developed.  All members of the gang carried pistols, but they also carried rifles and shotguns.  At least one member of the gang is reported to have fired his pistol in the air shouting for people to get off the streets (and/or as signals).  However, the gang mainly used their rifles/shotguns in the gunbattle.

Northfield resident Nicholas Gustafson was killed by a rifle shot.(possible a stray shot by a resident named Manning)
Gang member Clell Miller was shot by a shotgun.
Manning with a rifle, wounded one of the Younger brothers.
Northfield resident Wheeler shot Bob Younger with a rifle.
A teller, inside the bank, was apparently shot at point blank range by one of the gang members, with a pistol
Manning, with a rifle, killed Bill Chadwell.

What can be deduced from this? About 40 townspeople fired guns.  Most fired pistols.  Every shot by a townsperson who hit anyone came from a shoulder weapon, and the most deadly shots out of 40 shooters were just two - - Manning and Wheeler.

The outlaws did fire pistols in the air, but (other than a point blank execution) the only person they hit was apparently shot with a rifle.

Conclusion - rifles were much more accurate.
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Re: ACCURACY OF THOSE SHOOTING IRONS...

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:32 pm

Renewed Fan:3972 wrote:Post-script to the foregoing:  In Deadwood, in the late 1870's, there was a shootout involving 5 cowboys, each with a revolver (and, possibly, one or more carried a second revolver).  Each fired until he ran out of ammunition, so at least 30 rounds were fired.  Range was 40-50 feet.  No one was hit.

(Alcohol may have played a factor in starting this fight, and may have degraded their marksmanship!)

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Re: ACCURACY OF THOSE SHOOTING IRONS...

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:33 pm

Renewed Fan:3973 wrote:second follow-up - - OK Corral, October 26, 1881, Tombstone.  About 30 rounds fired in 30 seconds, in an area the size of a large living room.  There were ten participants. (Billy Claiborne claimed to have been unarmed, so there may have only been 9 shooters.

The dead victims:
Tom Mclaury - shot by shotgun; questionable if he had a pistol; he tried to get to a rifle during the fight.
Frank Mclaury- hit by shotgun pellets, then hit by a pistol; used a revolved for sure, but tried to get a rifle from his saddle
Billy Clanton - pistol shots hit him; he clearly fired a pistol

The point being that even at point blank range, participants were trying to get to shoulder weapons as opposed to mainly using pistols, and seem to have preferred shoulder weapons.
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Re: ACCURACY OF THOSE SHOOTING IRONS...

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:33 pm

cowgirl:3974 wrote:That's interesting!  That's what they did in Open Range, but were a lot closer.  That takes a lot of nerve to do that.  
Each fired until he ran out of ammunition, so at least 30 rounds were fired.  Range was 40-50 feet.  No one was hit.
 I can't even imagine doing that at 40-50 feet!
---image broken---
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Re: ACCURACY OF THOSE SHOOTING IRONS...

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:34 pm

Michelle P.:3981 wrote:Wow!  This was really interesting!!!  Thanks for sharing.
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Re: ACCURACY OF THOSE SHOOTING IRONS...

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:34 pm

rooster davis:3989 wrote:
Renewed Fan wrote:
Conclusion - rifles were much more accurate.
Each type of weapon has its strengths.

A rifle is more powerful and more accurate than a pistol - but certainly can't be concealed or carried 'at the ready' anywhere near so well. If you wanted to pick off a target accurately, especially at a distance (say you were going to bushwhack someone or if you went hunting game) a rifle is a much better choice than a pistol.

A pistol's shorter barrel makes it harder to aim accurately for distant targets and also at a distance the shorter barrel makes it less powerful. (Bear in mind that there are 3 inch barrels and 7 and 12 inch barrels on handguns, so there are definitely variations in that regard.) Its portability means you can keep several people 'covered' much more easily (just by swinging it back and forth between them with one hand) or you can run and dive behind the horse trough and peek around the corner and fire at someone else, much more easily with a pistol than with a rifle. A pistol is much 'handier' so that gives it the edge in some circumstances. And of course a pistol can usually be concealed.

A shotgun is THE most devastating weapon of them all - while a pistol or rifle will put a bullet through a wooden door, a shotgun will blow a hole a few inches across through it. You might survive one or two or three shots in the chest or back from a rifle or pistol - we've all hear about the bullet that missed someone's spine or heart - "just another inch and he'd have been dead"... but a shotgun? Close is usually much more than 'good enough'. When the hole is the size of a baseball, it doesn't have to be so perfectly placed to be deadly. On the other hand, the range is generally not as good with a shotgun as with a rifle, and many shotguns hold only a couple of rounds. (That may be all you need!) However shotguns made for security / protection / police work can hold 5 to 7 rounds.

Leaning between the headboard of my bed and the corner of my bedroom, you'll find a semi automatic 5-shot 12-gauge shotgun. Luckily I live in a state where the law specifically says you are entitled to defend your home and family against any intruder. I used to have a 9mm handgun for the purpose, but the shotgun is much less aim-critical and more powerful. I hope I never need to use it.
"Keep your 'sites' on The Rifleman"
"The Rifleman hits the 'Mark' every week on abc."
A cowgirl's work is never done.

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