The following information on the National Rifle Association comes from Section 64 of Shooting by J. Henry FitzGerald. Shooting is also available to purchase in print.
And now I feel that we have become sufficiently acquainted to have a little plain talk about the art of pistol and revolver practice. I have many times instructed a class in revolver shooting when some of the class gave a very sorry exhibition and this was due to carelessness. As I instructed in the proper way to line up the sight, they would carelessly allow the front sight to extend above or below the top of the rear sight, possibly thinking that a sixteenth or a thirty-second of an inch would make no difference. It does make a difference and a very great difference if you are shooting twenty, twenty-five or fifty yards. Try to do just as the instructor tells you and you will see an improvement almost from the start.
The same carelessness will cause the student to allow the arm to swing to the right or left and he will tell me he can’t help it. There is no such word as “can’t,” and if he will try to put the same amount of energy and will power into learning to shoot as he does into any other sport or part of his profession he will become an expert shot.
In police work I am a firm believer in every officer being able to shoot quick and straight with right and left hand. Still in one of the most up-to-date departments in the United States I was told by the men that they could not shoot straight with the left hand. Before the course was over the men made better scores on the Colt Silhouette target with the left hand than they did with the right hand. It is very important in police work to know that you have a one hundred per cent left hand and know how to use it. This means, of course, that the arm must be carried where you can reach it with the left hand as well as the right.
Another very important thing in police work is to be able to scent danger. Certain conditions arise which should spell to the officer “get ready.” An unlocked door found by an officer; how many officers have blundered in with gloves on and their revolvers under three or four coats and sweaters to be killed because they did not take proper precaution. Learn to take advantage of conditions as you find them. Learn to handle every emergency which may arise and handle it to the credit of your department and yourself. If you should find a door unlocked, first look around and see where the street lights are, whether they will throw your shadow into the store or building if you should enter, making a target of you for any one in the store to shoot at. A friend of mine once caught two burglars by trying an unlocked door and instead of opening it stepped along to the next doorway and waited. In a short time the two men came out. He got his men because he used his head.
Carelessness and heedlessness are the things to avoid when on the shooting range. I will cite an instance which happened in a class of two hundred officers. I drew the diagram of sights as seen by the officer when revolver was in firing position and told them that they would all be asked that question in their examination papers and explained the diagram to each one separately. One week later in the examination not twenty per cent of the officers had the right answer.
I was asked by a certain chief of police to try to hammer SAFETY into the heads of his men due to an accidental shooting a week before. I explained for forty minutes the safe handling of firearms; even pictured an accident: an officer accidently killed by a brother officer, the man lying dead on the floor, a few days later being carried to his grave, the misery of two families whose lives were wrecked by carelessness. I nearly started crying myself over my heart-rending description of the case; then wiped my eyes and called the first man to the firing line. Before he was ready to fire a shot, one of the officers behind us, for some unknown reason, drew his revolver, aimed it at a knot in the floor, and hit it plumb center in a range of sixty men. However old or experienced the shooter, he is not too old to have an accident when thinking of other things. Keep the hands away from the revolver or pistol until you can forget everything else; put your mind on the revolver and nothing else.
I have been asked after a week or two spent with a department if I considered the school a success. My answer was: “Yes; no one was injured.”
Officers should not spend too much time in figuring out just what they would do in a gun fight. They should spend a little time each day in this way, but do not carry it to excess or they will be in the same condition as the deer hunter who goes out for the first time and sees a set of antlers behind every bush. I have known officers who have done just that; too much study on the subject is almost as bad as too little. This applies to all marksmen, and alcohol, revolvers, and cartridges make a cocktail that should be avoided.
While enjoying the advantages and pleasures of meeting old friends from North, East, South and West, and of shooting in the matches at Camp Perry and elsewhere, we must not forget the organization that has made all this possible.
Since 1871 the National Rifle Association of America have used their untiring efforts to promote the shooting game. Recently has been added a police division to promote the use of revolvers in police departments and to assist them in promoting matches among the different departments. All branches of the National Rifle Association are presided over by men well versed in the shooting game.
Another welcome addition is the Sales and Service Department of the National Rifle Association, 816 Barr Building, Washington, D.C. The National Rifle Association is worthy of the consideration of every red-blooded American citizen. May it increase in membership from year to year, thereby allowing us to more thoroughly enjoy our chosen pastime.