Did Wild Bill Hickok allow for trajectory in his 1865 duel?
James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok’s shoot-out against Davis Tutt in Springfield, Missouri, on July 21, 1865, has been described as one of the few classic Hollywood-style gunfights. Hickok’s kill shot traveled 75 yards before hitting Tutt in the heart.
Gun expert Jim Dunham, who has visited the gunfight site, says, “luck played a significant role in winning that fight. Most gunfights, both then and now, are close encounters. Beyond 25 yards, the lead bullets start dropping considerably, probably several inches.
“However, the old guns often grouped shots high. If Hickok used the .36 Navy Colt, the lead would drop less than the .44 caliber rounds. But Bill probably aimed above the point of impact by quite a few inches.”
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at email@example.com