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Book Review: Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting by Ed McGivern

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

A few months back I finished the book Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting written by Ed McGivern. He lived in Great Falls, MT. He became known for his very fast shooting. He mostly studied single-action and double-action revolvers with ground placed targets, aerial targets, hip shooting, shooting two guns at once, and long range shooting with revolvers. In the book he explains that he isn't gifted, he just had to spend a lot of time practicing. McGivern says the most important piece of equipment that was invented that he used in his training was the shot timer. Ed recommends shot timers because he says that the human eye is not capable of accurately timing events that happen in less than a second. He also recommends using a .22 revolver that is a similar size as the .357 that you will be shooting for practice because it is cheaper to shoot .22's. Once you get the techniques down with the .22 then he recommends going to the .357.

McGivern explains that the only way to learn the advanced skills, is to shoot a bunch. He also explains that not only do you need to shoot a bunch but you need to analyze the results you get and why you got those results so that you can make changes to try and accomplish the results that you are shooting for. He also doesn't recommend changing triggers or butchering guns to make them faster. The only thing that he would change on his guns were the sights for the application he was using the gun for and the grips to make the gun more comfortable for the shooter. In the book, he talked about what sights he preferred and why they tended to work well for him in each different style of shooting that he did. Even with all the fast revolver shooting and small aerial targets that McGivern talks about shooting such as the marbles that were just barely over an inch in diameter he would always use his sights to shoot. He is not a fan of point shooting and his claim is that in order to get consistent hits the shooter needs to use their sights. McGivern would practice his fast shooting and trigger control on a stationary target and master that before moving onto aerial targets.

For most people, it is not possible to safely shoot at aerial targets because they don't have the ability to make backstops for their range tall enough to catch the rounds. Even so, there is still a lot of valuable information to take away from the book, such as his his findings and techniques on how to shoot a double action revolver quickly and accurately and what is actually possible. In 1932 McGivern found that he could shoot five shots double action in 2/5 of a second into a hand-sized group regularly and sometimes he would keep his shots tight enough to fit into a card- shaped group. It was pretty controversial at that point in time on how accurate one could be with a double action revolver while shooting it double-action only. McGivern talks of when he sent a target from both himself and a student, Leonard Larson, to Adventure Magazine of a dime-sized group that was shot with five shots at 25 yards, double-action only and can be done consistently.

I do recommend giving this book a read. Ed McGivern is very analytical in his process and explains his processes in detail in the book so the reader can understand how he got to each conclusion. I think it is really cool to read of his training regiment and what he did to get to his ability of shooting. Again, for most people the aerial target shooting and shooting two guns at once probably won't apply to your training but it is neat to read about.

Have a great and safe weekend!

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