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Recollections of a Combat Master

  • Writer's pictureElden Carl

Tale of Two Books

Updated: Oct 12, 2018

ED McGivern's Book on "Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting and Police Training," 1938.

In 1965 I was working for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department as Rangemaster for Sheriff Joseph O’Conner. On January 27, I was in the basement pistol range preparing for a qualification shoot when in walked a well-dressed older gentleman who introduced himself as Louis Beck. During our conversation he described his experiences as an exhibition shooter in the 1930’s and 1940’s. I shared with him some of the things I had done with a pistol during my competition and exhibition shooting career in the 1960’s.

Mr. Beck was curious to know if Ed McGivern and his book had anything to do with my development as a pistol shooter. I told him that I had learned quite a bit from McGivern’s book, but I did not elaborate. In fact, it wasn’t until a couple of decades later, after several visits with Jack Weaver in Carson City, Nevada, that I fully realized what an important part Ed McGivern had played in the development of modern combat pistol shooting. I will write more about that later.

At the end of our conversation, Louis Beck gave me his 1938 first edition copy of “Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting” autographed by the author Ed McGivern. I was so surprised by this generous act that I asked Mr. Beck to autograph the book as a gift from him to me, which he did. He wrote: “Elden, I know you’d have enjoyed shooting with Ed as much as I did and that he would have wanted me to pass this gift on to one who follows the old tradition. Louis Beck. January 27, 1965.”

I’m sorry to say I never saw Louis Beck again after our meeting at the pistol range in 1965. I wish I had made an effort to keep in touch with him. But I was somewhat of a loner living in a culture that does not encourage relationships between older and younger generations.

At the time, I still had my own copy of McGivern’s book, which I had bought in the spring of 1955, the very same day I invested in my first handgun, a Ruger 22 cal. single six revolver. Since I didn’t need two copies of the book, I offered mine to friend and fellow pistol shooter Richard Bein. At the time, Dick was an assistant district attorney whose office was in the same building as mine. He was later appointed as a Judge by then Governor Ronald Reagan and served with distinction on the bench in El Cajon, California until his retirement. Now living in Smith Valley, Nevada near Carson City, Dick shoots regularly and teaches a class in defensive pistol shooting.

And so goes a short story concerning two copies of Ed McGivern’s “Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting.” In other articles I will discuss the overlooked contributions of Ed McGivern to the modern technique of practical pistol shooting.



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