Lincoln War
After fleeing Maxwin’s burning house, the Regulators took refuge in Fort Sumner, Mexico. Once upon a time there was an army fort on the site of a village, but the…

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Songs of a Cheerful Cowboy
Not ignored by the sculptors and horses, the main assistants of the cowboys. Particularly impressive is the spectacle of the “Blue Mustang”, a giant figure of 32 feet high and…

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Wild riders
Real cowboys have never played the slightest political role in US history - because the cities that featured in the Wild West myths are not real cities or even state…

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Arrows of the Wild West

Despite the proverb that existed in the Wild West: “God created people, and Mr. Colt called them equal”, the most popular among the bandits and among the representatives of the law was not a revolver or a Winchester, as many believe, but an ordinary shotgun! Arizona sheriff John Slauter once fell upon a meticulous journalist tormenting him with a question why he was taking a shotgun with him in pursuit of bandits, growling in response:

“To kill people, damn dumbass!”

Arrows of the Wild West. Sheriffs, bandits, cowboys, gunfighters
Open Holster. XIX century

The shotgun was in many ways superior to other weapons. He did not hit as far as a shotgun, but had a great striking ability. Many of the legendary figures of the Wild West, including Wyatt Earp, Wes Hardin, Bill Longley and Jim Miller, gave him their preference. It was the shotgun that became the weapon, thanks to which ordinary townspeople were able to inflict a crushing defeat on the Jesse James gang in Northfield and the Dalton gang in Coffeyville.

However, the revolver was more convenient to handle, and it could be covertly worn in a holster under the floors of a long cloak, and therefore the shotgun served only as additional weaponry in the soldier’s arsenal. The mechanism of the revolvers was so unreliable that the holster for him had to be deep, often with a loop attached to the trigger for its fixation, and even better than an ordinary army with a closing valve. In addition to protection from dust, dirt, rain and snow, a holster with a closing valve helped to avoid the loss of weapons and accidents. In open holsters, the revolver was deeply recessed – so that only a small part of the handle remained visible. Contamination of the revolver led to misfires at the most inopportune moment and even to its breakdown [6], and accidents from spontaneous firing from one’s own weapon occurred so often that the death or injury of a person for this reason was considered a matter of routine. The holster, opening half the revolver, lowered almost to the knee and with a garter to the leg, which can be seen in most old westerns, did not exist in reality. And of course, no one in his life had ever thrust a revolver into his belt – there were no people wishing to shoot their genitals in the Wild West.

Arrows of the Wild West. Sheriffs, bandits, cowboys, gunfighters
Thieves did not always succeed in branding cattle on time. Hood. C. Russell

The process of snatching a revolver when meeting with the enemy was called “hit the holster.” A man who carried a revolver in a closed holster, sharply unfastened the upper valve with his left hand, pulled out a weapon with his right and, raising it to the target, cocked the trigger with his left hand. Usually, the fighter did not aim at the enemy, but only aimed the barrel at him, after which he pulled the trigger. For each shot he had to cock the trigger again with his left palm or with the thumb of his right hand. After the first shot, a cloud of smoke enveloped the weapon, and there was no need to talk about targeted shooting.

It took much more time to snatch a revolver from a holster than many current reenactors claim. Recent measurements of high-speed snatching from an open holster with modern equipment have shown that the average time that passes from the moment a hand touches a revolver until a bullet leaves it is 1.3 seconds, not 0.5, as some authors claimed. But no matter how fast the shooter was, he should always remember to be careful – there are cases when too hasty shooters planted a bullet in their feet or knees!

Arrows of the Wild West. Sheriffs, bandits, cowboys, gunfighters
Bandit of Mexican descent. Typical belt holster position

Another nonsense is the unsurpassed accuracy of Wild West shooters, who supposedly have no equal in the whole world even today. Wild West explorer Joe Zentner called this myth “the most exaggerated and perhaps the most fun.” How good were these guys with revolvers in their hands? By today’s standards, characters like Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, or Wild Bill Hickcock would be considered new to any shooting range. The glory of their skill reached unprecedented heights only thanks to the efforts of writers and directors.

One example of the origin of such a fairy tale is Wild Bill Hickcock. In the 1930s, three of his biographies were published at once, each of which claimed that any bullet fired from his revolver always hit the target. In one biography, the author stated that Wild Bill easily hit a running man from a hundred meters. In another, it was vividly painted as he shot a hat off a man’s head and made a neat row of bullet holes in its fields even before it fell to the ground. All this is fiction. And the point is not only that smokeless gunpowder came into use only in the 1890s, and before that, smoke with each shot more and more enveloped the space between the shooter and the target, making it barely visible. It was the weapon itself. Frank James, for example, was considered a better shooter than his famous brother Jesse.

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