Monday, January 16, 2017

Rule 17 Revisited

When I used to coach youth basketball the first thing I would do each season was to hold a meeting to educate the parents that I was not in the entertainment business but in the character building business. I would tell them I was hoping for a perfect season.  A perfect season was one where every team we would play had better players than our team, every game would be decided by one point, we would win half of the games and lose half of the games.  Those same thoughts can be applied to fast draw.  A perfect match is one where your opponent is quicker than you, every shot is decided by 1 millisecond, both shooters hit 100%, and it goes to 2-2, next blinking light.  Now that is fun!

2016 started off with the Comish attending some titled matches and giving out some warnings in Arizona and Texas.  Then in the spring, Rule 17 became a non issue until Nationals.  There the two best gunslingers, men and women, were eliminated from the Mag 7 by Rule 17. (Chuckle folks, that is supposed to be a little humor, at least for the men.)  After Nationals, Rule 17 seemed to fade into a non issue again. Rule 17 never has been a problem for those who shoot the flail or the level and follow through since both shoot while the gun in motion and therefore no one can see where the gun is fired.

Cowboy fast draw is a sport, a character building activity. Rule 17 is with us and we must adjust to survive.  It really only affects the lock elbow shooters since they shoot from a stable position near the holster.  If you shoot the lock elbow there are probably three ways to comply. You can add a flail to your draw. A good flail shooter at .33 will most likely be in the bottom third of most matches.  I do not recommend the flail as I consider it a defect.  Second, you can add a follow through to your draw.  Many of the Oldtimer champions shoot the level and follow through. Our current Top Gun is a follow through shooter. Both the flail and the follow through add motion to the shot and even if you are behind the holster, Rule 17 will not be called because you can not see where the gun is fired.

The third way to comply is to adjust your stance. If you look at photos of the top shooters you will find that most shoot the locked elbow with a S curve stance.  The S curve stance does two things, it moves the holster forward and increases the cant.  A club member here has done a collage of photos of 16 of the top shooters and all are shooting from the S curve stance.  He has measured the cant of the holster at the moment the gun is fired and it ranges from 48 degrees to 66 degrees with the most common cant being 52 degrees.  Both the forward position of the holster and the increased cant improve quickness.  The S curve stance leads to Rule 17 violations.

To avoid Rule 17 violations, stand more upright. Standing more upright moves the holster back.  It also moves the shooting shoulder forward thereby moving the anchor point of the gun forward.  If you stand perfectly upright with no S curve and shoot the locked elbow draw the end of the muzzle of the gun will be 3 to 4 inches in front of the front pouch of the holster. Not only will it be in compliance with Rule 17 but it is gentler on your back, hips, and knees.  Being a sport of quickness, our task is to find that balance wherein we use enough S curve to be quick, but not so much that we are shooting behind the holster.  

My goal for 2017 is to move from the Randall Bragg quote, "Don't be too sure you are quicker than me!" to the Virgil Cole response, "Been quick enough so far!"

I think the Shady Mtn team may make an appearance at the first title match at the Four Corners to defend our 2016 win.  Shady Mtn does well, not because we are quick, though we are quick, but because on Shady Mtn "We don't practice missing!"


  1. Lots to think about there, but I don't believe that Cowboy Fast Draw is a sport. I believe it is a game. A sport is inherently dangerous, with a likelihood of blood, or perhaps death. Dangerous game hunting, bullfighting, and mountaineering are sports. Football, basketball, and baseball are all games They all build character, but there's no real likelihood of danger. But, at this point, I'm just quibbling.