Recollections of a Combat Master

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  • Elden Carl

Thank you, Ed McGivern!

I purchased my first pistol, a Ruger Single Six .22 caliber, in the spring of 1955 just before being honorably discharged from the Navy. The Korean War was over and it was time to have some fun. Not only did I purchase a Ruger and some .22 Long Rifle ammo, but I also allowed myself to be sold a third edition copy of Ed McGivern's Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting.


The most important thing I learned from the book was how to fire a single action revolver quickly and accurately by using a two-handed hold, which was explained and pictured in the book. The two-handed hold I developed for the single action in 1955 later morphed into the two-handed hold and Isosceles Stance which I developed for the 1911 in the spring of 1960.

Until our historian, Jay Hohenhaus began picking my brain, I had never thought of other ways Mr. McGivern and his book had helped me. Then during the development of our .44 Magnum story, I wrote about Jeff Cooper's first .44 Magnum shoot held on September 16, 1961 at 8,000 foot Onyx Summit near Big Bear City, California. Jay noted that I had fired the 100 yard stage from a sitting position and wanted to know why. I told him that none of us had seen the physical layout for the shoot until the day we arrived at Onyx Summit so planning was out of the question.

When the final stage at 100 yards was about to begin, I noted that there was a depression in the soft forest ground approximately one yard behind the firing line. The depression was a perfect fit for my butt and lower back, so I decided to employ the McGivern long range sitting position, sans the Model A Ford sedan which McGivern pictured in his chapter on long range pistol shooting.

My technique was simple yet effective beyond my wildest dreams: I simply sat in the depression with my knees bent and my feet approximately 18 inches apart. I applied my strong two-handed hold to the Model 29 which I then gripped hard between my knees. Shooting single action I fired what LtCol Cooper called an unofficial world's record: 5 shots in a 3 inch group at 100 yards. Thanks for your help, Mr. McGivern!