Wyatt EarpChess master Shelby Lyman writes:

I am reminded of a much different protagonist, the lawman Wyatt Earp who famously survived many gunfights.

His adversaries usually emptied their gun or guns as rapidly as possible in his direction. Earp's modus operandi was markedly different.

Not succumbing to fear or desperation, he calmly and deliberately aimed and fired with devastating accuracy and results. Aware that the revolvers of his time were clumsy and hard to aim, he maximized his chances by emphasizing accuracy rather than speed.

The story of the gunfight reminds me of my college roommate who earned money in the summer as part of a Wild West show. It was not so much a show as it was an experience. Tourists would come to town and my roommate Matt, along with his father, brother and others, would be dressed as real cowboys in a real saloon or blacksmith shop. The whole town as supposed to be authentic (except the tourists). Staged bar fights would break out from a poker game gone bad, live cattle would be corralled. You name it; they had it.

Matt's job was as a gunfighter (same as his dad and brother). People would challenge Matt to gunfights. He would take them out on the street, face them and draw. The winner was the one who shot first (no points for accuracy when shooting blanks).

Matt and his brother made a lot of money betting people that he could beat them in a draw. He never lost. He would even give his adversary the advantage of holding the gun out in the front pointed directly at Matt. Someone would count down, 3, 2, 1, and then they would shoot at each other. All the adversary had to do was pull his trigger before Matt drew his gun and fired it. Matt never lost.

Sound's hard to believe, doesn't it? It did to me. As Matt was telling me this story in our room in the fraternity house, I told him I didn't believe him.

So Matt went and got out his revolvers. He and I both confirmed the chambers were empty. He let me pick whichever gun I wanted. He strapped on the gun belt and holstered the other one. He told me to point my gun right at him and cock the trigger back.

I didn't even need to fight the hammer when pulling the trigger, I simply needed to lightly pull the trigger and click, I would win.

Matt stood in front of me, his fingers lightly feathering his gun. He asked me how much I wanted to bet. Not being stupid (I could smell a hustle and was beginning to doubt my earlier disbelief), I decided we'd do it for fun.

He said, "I'll count to three and then we'll draw." He even did a dry run (of counting) so that I could get the cadence down. He asked me to not pull the trigger before he said 3 and I agreed.

He counted.

3, 2, 1, click.

He won.

To tell you it was a blur would be an understatement. So we repeated it again, and again, and again. He won every time.

Being a good friend, he gave me some lessons drawing a weapon.

First of all, in the movies they show guys drawing their weapons, raising them and shooting. That is all wrong. Matt would grab his gun, withdraw it from the holster while tilting it toward his adversary, and at the same time, the tip of his thumb would be pulling the hammer back and his index finger would be depressing the trigger — all of this happened simultaneously.

When the gun was level and pointed at the adversary, all he had to do was slide his thumb off the trigger (only the very tip was on it) and click, the gun would go off. The gun never left his side. He did not raise it in front of him, he simply slid it out of the holster and shot from the hip. In the old West, as Matt told me, the gunfighters actually wired their triggers back (the trigger was already pulled back), so all the had to do was pull the hammer back with the tip of their thumb and release.

He had been doing this for years, practicing for years and was a master of the quick draw. It was a real treat to watch a true master at work. And it gave me a whole new respect for what it took to be a quick draw artist in the old West.

I would have to surmise that most quick draw artist didn't have very long life expectancy in the old West. Watching Matt, I concluded that no matter how fast you were, the bullet couldn't travel fast enough to make a difference in the nanosecond between the fastest and the second fastest. They would certainly kill each other.

The only way to really win at fast draw was not to play. There is always at least one loser, and sometimes two.

I've found that sometimes in the market, people take things too seriously and feel they have to beat the other guy. They have a sense of competitiveness and ego that requires them to trounce whomever they consider their opponent. The beauty of the market is that no one necessarily has to lose. Since there is a long term positive drift of around 10%, everybody who can stomach the roller coaster ride will win. Sure, there will be bigger winners and lesser winners.

The discrepancy between the big winners and lesser winners comes from ability to exploit human nature coupled with a clear understanding of what the rules are, how the game is played, and that there are true masters out in the world that you simply can't beat, or at least can't beat often enough to make it worthwhile to step in the arena against them.

Unlike a fast draw contest or gunfight against my friend Matt, or John Wesley Hardin or Billy the Kid or Wyatt Earp, where you stand almost zero percent chance of surviving (let alone winning), when playing the market, a simple understanding of the rules and how the game is played, will allow everyone to step into the arena and come out a better and wealthier for having played. 

Ken Smith remarks:

Fast draw gunslingers in real killing events did not fire from the hip; it's done only in movies and tourist shows. You can't aim from the hip, at a vital target, a specific body part, as the heart — which is a killing event.

The best guy with a gun took aim and fired, letting the hip-ster beat him to the draw. The draw was not the critical element in the shoot out; it was the aim, the gun the shooter used, the firepower of the load; these were the critical elements.

So, next time an armed criminal draws his weapon, don't worry. Let him take a quick shot while you calmly get a firm shooting grasp of your weapon and take a stance. 


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