They sure did practice shooting. They pretty much lived by the gun and didn’t want to die that way. Men like John Wesley Hardin, James “Wild Bill” Hickok and William Henry “Billy the Kid” McCarty spent a lot of time practicing. The late Hickok biographer Joseph G. Rosa, who died earlier this year, told me that the gunfighter was afraid his guns would not be fight-ready unless he fired and cleaned them regularly, so he shot each pistol every day. Hickok allowed folks to watch, and witnesses wrote reports that expounded on his accuracy.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org