How to shoot single actions..single action technique history

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Jager01

Bearcat
Joined
Sep 1, 2008
Messages
35
I am really getting into Rugers and single action pistols. I have always used a 7.5 OM SBH to hunt deer with and not want to get into target shooting with them. How do you guys hold your single actions? Do you have a video to show how to do it.

I am curious also how different people shot the gun in different situations.

How did a US Calvary officer shoot it during combat?

How did a target shooter shoot it for accuracy?

Thanks a bunch.

Also, I should probably make this into a separate topic but I dont want to waste room. What is a good book that only talks about Colt SAA adopted by the Army or armed services. Thanks.
 

M'BOGO

Buckeye
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,949
I think COLT SINGLE ACTION, FROM PATTERSONS TO PEACEMAKERS, by Dennis Adler is a great book. It is the clostest book that I have, that you are referencing. Now comes the landslide of references.

As for hold, it depends on your hand size, what gripframe you have, and the power level of the ammo you are touching off.
 

DwarvenChef

Bearcat
Joined
Nov 29, 2009
Messages
28
Yup, all the different frames, bbl lengths and weight of the pistol change holds just a bit.

I'm fully into the Bisley model now as it fits my hand in just about all the shooting styles I have done.
 

contender

Ruger Guru
Joined
Sep 18, 2002
Messages
20,993
Don't know about any books on Colts.

However, the BASICS of shooting a SA.
Lets say you are right handed. Grasp your revolver in your right hand,, almost like you are making a fist. If your pinky finger isn't able to stay comfortably on the grip,, you can allow it to go under the bottom of the grip frame to help balance things a bit. With your left hand,, while looking at the exposed area of the grip panels,, place the heel of your hand intop the space where you see grip frame, while wrapping your left thumb over the top of your right thumb. wrap your other 4 fingers around your right hand, in front of the trigger guard.
Next,, the tension; proper recoil & handling requires about 30% of your hold being done byu your right hand,, and 70% of it with your left hand. That way you do not overstress your arm muscles when you apply direct, careful pulling of the trigger. Of course your trigger finger should only have the trigger centered in the middle of the pad of your first joint.
At the same time you are applying the grip pressure, your right hand should be "pushing forward,, while your left hand should be pulling rearward. That helps stabalize your hands.
Next, during recoil,, left the egernomics of the grip design work for you. THe shape of the grip dictates it will roll upward in your hand,, so allow it to do so. Do not "fight" the recoil by trying to hold it down.
If done properly,, you should see your gun recoil straight upward when it fires.
Try getting it on video if possible to check yourself.
I hope this helps a bit.
 

Riot Earp

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 18, 2006
Messages
53
I used to wrap my left thumb over my right, and then took a course where they instructed me to keep my left (i.e. weak) thumb roughly parallel with the barrel. I thought this would be a weaker grip, but it turned out to be just the opposite. It forced me to slightly cant (i.e. put in an oblique position) my left hand. This technique doesn't work for cowboy shooters who cock with their left thumb. As for me, I cock with my right. :)
 

Rodfac

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
691
Contender....Good advice there...One thing caught my attention tho...you said 70% of your grip, two handed, comes from the left hand. I've found that it I add any significant pressure with my left hand while shooting two handed, that my groups will drift laterally from what I hold when shooting with the strong hand only. I to get groups centered with those shot single handed, I have to make a conscious effort to use the left hand only for support, not to increase the grip pressure. For the most part, I can't remember to do that, and as a result, sight in for the two-handed hold.

At 25 yds, it amounts to a cpl of inches and the two handed group is always to the right of the single handed one. I've always thought it was because the gun recoils away from the single hand, ie. away from the palm. Shooting single-handed, but with my left hand, the group drift is in the opposite direction.

By the way, I'm a "pinkie under" guy and use a grip that's just short of "impress your friend with your hand shake" strength. I pull the trigger in one complete motion, no stopping, accepting my wobble area and taking the shot where ever it happens to fire. Stopping the trigger pull to correct for wobble has never worked for me. I taught both my son's to focus on the front sight alone by marking the blade with a #2 pencil and telling them to stare at the mark till it was in focus then begin the trigger pull emphasizing that the target must appear as a blur. We learned trigger pull by balancing a dime on the front sight and pulling the trigger without knocking the dime off the sight blade.

Just my observations, your efforts might differ, but it's enough difference for me, that I sight in all my single actions for two handed use and compensate when some fool asks me to shoot with one hand only. Oddly enough, the 1911 does not suffer from the same drift issues, but does shift its groups vertically depending on whether I've shot with one or two hands.

Best Regards, and no criticism intended. Rodfac
PS: I'm an Eagle Scout as well, Class of '61
D44Tgt.jpg
 

Rodfac

Blackhawk
Joined
Mar 11, 2009
Messages
691
Got to thinking that a cpl of pics might help. I took two with my two handed hold and one of my sitting position. I use the sitting one for all load testing finding that it's more consistent than what I'm capable of with sandbags and is more indicative of a deer stand type position. Note that the gun is between my knees, not on top. If shot off the top of my knees I get vertical dispersion. Just my opinions, Rodfac .... and that's my .44 Lipsey...ain't she a beauty?

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Jager01

Bearcat
Joined
Sep 1, 2008
Messages
35
You guys are awesome. Thanks for taking the time to write detailed responses and taking lots of pictures. Ill re-read everything before I go to the range this weekend and let you guys know how I did.
 

btrumanj

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Messages
490
After looking at Rodfac's photos I can see I'm shooting the gun just like he does but at times the danged target moves around a bit on me :lol:
 

Dale53

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Messages
925
Rodfac;
That is a NICE target, too. I envy your spead, just a bit. It must be NICE to be able to shoot off your deck. I LOVE it!

Yep, those .44 Lipsey Specials are DEFINITELY "Special".

Dale53 (back home in Ohio)...
 

Eli Chaps

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 5, 2009
Messages
18
Well I dual grip similarly but a bit differently than what has been said. Other than slight adjustments for the specific gun model/shape, I shoot pretty much any hand gun the same basic way.

The strong hand is more or less a given. though I would add to keep the grip strength on the lighter side. Something a little shy of the gun being able to move around in your grip. Firm, but not too tight. Too tight will pull your rounds to your strong side.

As for the weak side hand, much like contender said, I run my hand forward and warp my fingers around my strong hand. On my BH, the first knuckle of my index finger of my weak hand presses against the front of the trigger guard, finger up against the bottom of the frame. If I have my strong hand trigger finger laying along the trigger guard, the point of it will just touch the pad of my weak hand index finger. The middle finger of my weak hand runs around the lower front of the trigger guard and wraps up onto my strong hand fingers. My third weak hand finger wraps around the third strong hand finger and same with the pinky.

My weak hand thumb stays raised and just to the side. My palm will be slightly off my strong hand. There are a few reasons for this. 1) It encourages better balance, 2) It reduces "over-gripping" 3) The off-hand thumb is the best way to cock a SA (especially for faster firing), and lastly 4) if you ever shoot semi's you won't wrap your thumb around more than once. Helluva gouge that slide makes!

The grip should be relaxed, but controlled, natural but trained. I subscribe to the push-pull method, albeit judiciously. Push slightly forward with strong hand and pull less slightly backward with the weak. It's a wonderfully stabilizing grip. Just mind your pressures so you don't tweak the gun to one side or the other.

Hell, I reckon a few pictures would show it much better, I'll see if I can get a few in the next day or so if anyone cares.

Rodfac's grip, IMHO, is much of a target-shooting type grip and no doubt well suited for it. I come from a more "tactical" type background and my grip style reflects it.


Now, as to the question of how they did it "back in the day," I'm surely no expert on the matter but if you look at PERIOD paintings and illustrations (meaning those made in that era, you rarely see two-handed grips or even extended arms for that matter. It's almost always one-handed, cock and rather tight to the face by today's standards. Often with the head leaning back. I reckon dualists being something of an exception. remember, the average gun-toter didn't really have anyone teaching him "proper" techniques. They would do what they thought seemed fairly natural.

Just my 2 bucks. :)
 

Eli Chaps

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 5, 2009
Messages
18
Ok here's a few pics. Not the best as the daughter wasn't in the mood to humor her gun-nut dad and the camera batteries were dying but hopefully they get the point across.

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And left handed...

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As I said before, this is a more "confrontation" type grip not a target shooting grip. For target shooting I would be much more like Rodfoc shows.

If quarters start getting closer I turn my strong shoulder back more and pull my arms in tighter. Much more closer and I'll drop to a one-handed grip, body near sideways, gun about mid-chest.
 

Eli Chaps

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 5, 2009
Messages
18
Oh and one more thing, if you're wanting to learn about target shooting then you'd do well to study Elmer Keith. He laid the ground work for everything being done today in that respect.

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Jager01

Bearcat
Joined
Sep 1, 2008
Messages
35
Great pictures chaps. Thanks for getting your daughter involved! Im sure that wasnt easy.
 

w5lx

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 25, 2002
Messages
334
Rodfac,
Excellent pictures and commentary. And a great looking spread to boot. I notice in the photos you appear to use the distal joint of your trigger finger for applying pressure to the trigger. I use the same technique, contrary to most current advice to use the pad of the first joint of the finger for trigger control. I have tried that technique and it has never felt natural to me. I have more control and strength using the joint between the first two segments, concentrating on applying pressure straight to the rear. Also, in a hurried situation, the distal joint falls more naturally on the trigger than the pad of the first joint does. Just wondering if you have tried various methods of just where you apply pressure to the trigger and your conclusions?
 

Yosemite Sam

Hunter
Joined
Mar 18, 2002
Messages
2,113
w5lx":330ynv6e said:
Rodfac,
Excellent pictures and commentary. And a great looking spread to boot. I notice in the photos you appear to use the distal joint of your trigger finger for applying pressure to the trigger. I use the same technique, contrary to most current advice to use the pad of the first joint of the finger for trigger control. I have tried that technique and it has never felt natural to me. I have more control and strength using the joint between the first two segments, concentrating on applying pressure straight to the rear. Also, in a hurried situation, the distal joint falls more naturally on the trigger than the pad of the first joint does. Just wondering if you have tried various methods of just where you apply pressure to the trigger and your conclusions?
I'm not Rodfac, but I've done a lot of experimentation with this. I have extremely long fingers, and using the pad requires a somewhat unnatrual hold for me. I try, but often times I end up with the joint of my finger on the trigger.

The pad is supposed to be more sensitive, but I think this is another case of "use what works best". A lot of advice on technique is very individual. Just because person "A" does it this way and it works for them doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work for you. If you're completely uncomfortable doing it the way "they" tell you, maybe that's wrong for you. (I've never been a big "Segovia Technique" guy on the guitar, either, as you might imagine.)

Heck, I know one guy that uses his ring finger to pull the trigger, and lays his index up along the slide (of a semi auto, obviously). I'd tell him he was doing it wrong, but he always seems to hit what he's aiming at.

-- Sam
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2006
Messages
886
Great thread guys. Interesting variations of the grip. Thanks to all who contributed. I'm ready to try some adjustments next time to the range.
 
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