The following information on self confidence in self-defense shooting comes from Section 38 of Shooting by J. Henry FitzGerald. Shooting is also available to purchase in print.
The magic of knowing that you can shoot quick and straight is a life-saver and when you acquire it you will place more dependence in your revolver than you will in any three friends you have. You know what you can do with it and you have confidence in yourself. You not only know this yourself, but your brother officer knows it and consequently every gunman in your city, and they will let you alone and pick on some other officer whom they know will not be dangerous if they should exchange shots with him.
Knowing your own capabilities will cause you to work out in your own mind certain ways and means by which to overcome every possible emergency which might arise. If you are going into a house or hall after a prisoner you will work out certain lines of safety, such as not going into a house with gloves on and your revolver tucked away in your hip pocket under several coats and sweaters. I once saw an officer go after his revolver and after opening several layers of coats and sweaters take a bundle out of his hip pocket. It was the leg of his wife’s stocking sewed up at the bottom, inside of which he kept his revolver. He asked me to suggest a better place to carry it. I told him I could name several and that even going home after it when it was needed would have its advantages over standing on the street and trying to get it, that is, if you went fast enough the first hundred yards. One gentleman told me some time ago that he carried his revolver in his back pocket and his coat buttoned up so that no one could get it, and my answer to him was, “Neither can you get it if you need it.”
To all officers who carry their revolver in out-of-the-way places I will only ask them to step in front of a looking-glass and go after their revolver; see yourself as others see you. An instance that happened years ago when my labors consisted of selling revolvers for the Iver-Johnson Sporting Goods Company in Boston, Massachusetts, may be cited here. Two men came in, and in the course of the conversation informed me that they were secret-service men, that their life depended on their ability to use their revolvers, and that they both felt sorry for me because I only sold revolvers and didn’t know how to use them. I told them I was glad they came in and asked them if they would show me just how fast an up-to-date officer could get his revolver or pistol into action. They agreed to show me and we placed our hands on the showcase, fingers touching and at the word “Go” we all three went after our arms. I don’t like to talk about myself but before either of the secret-service men had reached his hip pocket they were looking into the business end of two .45 New Service revolvers. I asked them to show me the arms they carried and both proceeded to take out handkerchiefs, keys, etc., and finally a little buckskin pocketbook with clasp at the top. After opening this, they tried to take out a .25 Colt automatic. I say tried because both pistols were rusted and stuck to the felt lining. We finally succeeded in getting them out of the cases and the arms were so rusted that they could not be opened easily. I recommended a thorough cleaning and a different holster. One of the men remarked that my revolvers were cannons and should have wheels and asked me why the .25 automatic did not have a higher front sight. I told him that it was built that way, so that when it was taken away from him and shoved down his throat it would not hurt him so badly.
I have listened to many officers explaining how good they could shoot and when they got on the firing line they couldn’t hit a cow in the head with a snow shovel. I remember a two-gun man, an officer, never mind where, who informed me that twelve shots meant twelve dead men. I put up two silhouette targets and he started after his peace-makers. I agreed with him that twelve men might be killed, but whether they would be killed in front, behind, or on either side I was not sure; neither were others in the range, as we were alone when the exhibition was over. I believe I gave a fine exhibition of escaping from a drink-crazed fleet of hornets. I told him to always stand in the middle of anything he wanted to hit, as neither target showed any signs of distress.
I visited a friend of mine who ran a small manufacturing plant and as it was after-hours we went upstairs to the office. We were there only a short time when we heard a heavy tread on the stairs and finally the officer on that beat opened the office door and came in. He said, “Oh, it’s you, is it, Frank? I thought it might be burglars when I saw the light up here.” He came in with his heavy gloves on and several layers of coats and sweaters over his hip pocket. I asked the officer why, if he thought there were burglars in the office, he did not come prepared. He said he was and proceeded to go after his revolver. It took him two minutes and eleven seconds to get his revolver out ready for business.
A police chief once told me that a little incident which happened two days before had convinced him that his men and himself should learn how to shoot. He said he was going home through the park when he discovered one of his men chasing a burglar. He joined in the chase. While running he caught his foot on a root and, as he was carrying his revolver with finger on the trigger, he fired a shot, perforating a perfectly good park bench, and striking his head against a tree. He was unconscious and his men carried him back to the station before they found that he had not been shot.
It is a grand and glorious feeling to know that you can shoot quick and straight, but don’t fool yourself, be sure you can do it.