1939 LA County sheriff’s revolver club

From an e-mail.

The PC police would of course disapprove of the cigarettes and cigar. OK they’d disapprove of everything.

Also they handle lead with their bare hands at the range, shoot stuff out of other people’s mouths and ears which our litigious society now largely prevents, and they still for some reason thought the human heart was all in the left side of the chest. It appears that the price of their cast lead bullet reloads was a penny per round (presumably with the deposit of your spent brass).

They had someone else to clean your gun for you. That I do not approve– It’s not only elitist, but dumb from the standpoint of being able to understand and monitor the condition your own hardware. You should clean your own gun as an integral part of the craft.

They did have rotary, progressive loading machines.

I understand the desire for efficiency at a range, and of having some kind of standards for evaluating the skills of your deputies, but the highly controlled (and therefore highly limited) nature of the training/practice experience at such a range leaves me somewhat cold. I suppose it makes me something of an outlier, but I think you should to get out and simply “play” at it now and then, making up your own scenarios, picking non-standard targets at un-measured distances and so on. I’ll call this “messin’ around shooting”.

I once had a retired LA cop (which means he should very well know better from more than a little personal experience) tell me that his 45 ACP could “shoot through an engine block”. When I got back into shooting after being a hippie for a while, one of the first things I did, of course, was to try various calibers on an old chainsaw at a friend’s house. A 9 mm Para would break the aluminum fins off the cylinder, a 10 mm would strip the fins down clean, and a 7.62 x 39 would punch through the light aluminum and severely dent or tear the steel parts. There’s no way your 45 is going to “shoot through an engine block”. The messin’ around shooter already knows this from direct experience.

So while the gelatin testers, the organized range shooters and the gun magazine readers are talking about the performance of this or that bullet or load, the hunter who does his own butchering, and the messin’ around shooter, are often scratching their heads laughing at them.

I know people who are far more concerned about keeping the grass at the range looking nice than having year-round access for shooters, and they hate people like me. If it’s your own private club and your dime, fine.

Man; I got a little distracted there, huh?

12 thoughts on “1939 LA County sheriff’s revolver club

  1. My father, who learned to shoot back in the 1920s, thinks it’s ridiculous that people shoot pistols with two hands. I noticed in the film, everyone is shooting with one hand. When/why did the style change?

      • I’ve never seen an image of somebody with a flint or caplock pistol shooting it with two hands. I think I may have seen some dramatic images of a woman shooting a revolver with two hands, probably to show the “frailty” of women.

        Have you ever seen evidence that non-cav shooters shooting pistols or revolvers with both hands pre-1950s? I think I saw some FBI training videos where they shot two handed if they were shooting prone, but overall I assumed before Jack Weaver developed his method, single-handed was the way people shot pistols and revolvers.

    • Control, Baby. You have a more solid grip, with more control, shooting with both hands gripping the gun. The recoil is distributed down both arms, you have the triangulation or trussing effect for support, and you have twice the muscles holding it.

      There was another reason why pistols were used one-handed, and that was because your primary weapon (if you weren’t a rifleman) was the blade. That was the case as late as the War Between the States– Because of its length, the sword was carried in its sheath on the left side so it could be easily drawn with the right hand, and the pistol (if one was carried at all) was carried butt-forward on the right side, for a left handed draw. Hence a Civil War holster tends to confuse people because a “right-handed” holster appears to be a left-handed one by modern standards. That’s the story anyway.

      Shooting for defense purposes should be practiced every which way: one hand strong side, two-handed (weak and strong sides) and one hand weak side.

      Pistol craft has changed a lot since the 1930s (and the several hundred years before that) and it continues to change. Note that they called their range a “revolver club” for one thing, though the self loading (automatic) pistol was developed prior to 1900. Pistol shooting (at the high end of competition anyway) looks a bit different today than it did 15 years ago, and I expect it’ll look somewhat different 15 years from now.

      • Have you guys ever seen this website? http://firearmusernetwork.com/2012/11/11/point-shooting-vs-sight-shooting-handgun-training-effectiveness-lapd/

        I was looking for some stats on one-handed shooting by cops and found this. Lots of interesting stats about the NYPD and the LAPD.

        I thought this was noteworthy —

        “In regard to shooting effectiveness, it is worth noting that all “NYPD service pistols are “double action only” (DAO), meaning they have a two-stage trigger pull for each round fired (unlike single-action weapons, which can be “cocked,” resulting in a one-stage trigger pull, which is smoother and easier).”

        “Additionally, all NYPD weapons are also modified to have a heavier-than-stock 12-lb trigger pull; this diminishes the likelihood of unintentional discharges but also affects aiming. Nevertheless, it balances the fact that NYPD pistols do not have safeties, and are carried “hot,” with a round in the chamber. The NYPD uses a 124 grain, hollow-point bullet that is designed to prevent over-penetration and ricochets.”

        • There is a lot to pick apart in those quotes.

          For one thing, “single action” verses “double action” is one subject, and “single stage trigger” verses “two stage trigger” is largely another. The way they present it, they don’t appear to know what they’re talking about.

          Cop shops started going to DAO auto pistols several years ago to reduce lawsuits over their officers shooting innocents and coonfingering their triggers at inappropriate times resulting in negligent discharges. The quote does at least acknowledge the fact that DAO makes accurate fire more difficult. Some of the very top competitors in revolver shooting, using custom-tuned double actions, can come close to the combination of speed and accuracy that’s common in autopistol stages where they use single action pistols, but those cases are rare.

          A double action is a “trigger cocker” where your trigger finger does all the work of tensioning the hammer spring before it releases and fires. That takes more skill and practice to keep the sights on target through that extra process and effort, but it makes negligent discharges slightly less likely (I guess) when you”re unnecessarily coonfingering your heater in the locker room.

          If a cop shoots toward a perp, misses, and hits an innocent, one could make a good case that requiring that cop to carry a pistol with a heavy DAO trigger put innocents in unnecessary danger by making the gun more difficult to shoot accurately.

          It’s all about good training, as when you attempt to build a machine that’s idiot proof, only an idiot will use it.

        • There is a lot to pick apart in those quotes.

          For one thing, “single action” verses “double action” is one subject, and “single stage trigger” verses “two stage trigger” is something else. The way they present it, they don’t appear to know what they’re talking about.

          Cop shops started going to DAO auto pistols several years ago to reduce lawsuits over their officers shooting innocents and coonfingering their triggers at inappropriate times resulting in negligent discharges. The quote does at least acknowledge the fact that DAO makes accurate fire more difficult.

          Some of the very top competitors in revolver shooting, using custom-tuned double actions, can come close to the combination of speed and accuracy that’s common in autopistol competition where they use single action pistols, but those cases are rare.

          A double action is a “trigger cocker” where your trigger finger does all the work of tensioning the hammer spring (or striker spring) before it releases and fires. It takes more skill and practice to keep the sights on target through that extra process and effort, but it makes negligent discharges slightly less likely (I guess) when you”re unnecessarily coonfingering your heater in the locker room.

          If a cop shoots toward a perp, misses, and hits an innocent, one could make the case that requiring the cop to carry a pistol with a heavy DAO trigger put innocents in unnecessary danger by making the gun more difficult to shoot accurately.

          It’s all about good training, as when you attempt to build a machine that’s idiot proof, only an idiot will use it.

  2. I got a chance to shoot a late 90s Dodge ram with steel-core .50 BMG surplus ammo.

    The engine block, drive shaft, axles and transmissions all stopped the rounds, tho the damage was noticeable.

    Pistol rounds do a LOT less damage.

    • Nearly every round of 30.06 AP completely penetrated an old (late 40’s) six-cylinder engine block that I was “messin’ around” with. FMJ and soft point would only penetrate one side.

      9mm hollow points cleaned the rust off and left a dusting of lead.

      • Sure; regular 9 mm hollow points, but them there cop killer bullets from a pistol will punch clean through a D9 cat blade and kill the hell out of the guy behind it. I saw it in a movie so it HAS to be true. Just ask Danny Glover.

  3. Another thing I wanted to point out is that, I don’t know what to call it, the Hollywood Pose. It’s holding the pistol close to the body, muzzle held vertical toward the sky. I wonder how many holes they had in the roof over their covered shooting positions. There’s a guy who has a lot of youtube vids, mostly black powder stuff, and he has to take that pose after every string of fire. A variation is when you cock a revolver and have to aim the thing into the next county every time; point to the sky, cock the hammer, bring the muzzle from vertical, sweeping all the way down to the target with your trigger finger ready to break the shot all the while. That’s similar to the Hollywood/Old Western “throwing the bullets” cowboy technique. You can’t aim for shit, but maybe it adds one or two feet per second to the muzzle velocity.

    My theory is that it comes from early movies influencing the real world. I saw an old Audie Murphy western in which Murphy does the “bullet throw” technique with his Peacemaker. Here’s a guy who’d used pistols in actual combat, being told how to do it by a f-ing movie director. The movie was made long before the regular viewer could stop, go back and re-play a scene in slow motion. Audie fired the “killing shot” straight up, almost behind him, and “hit” the guy standing in front of him. The bullet had to change direction by at least 90 degrees to hit its mark.

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