Quigley Quibbles

I’ve recently come under savage attack for my “Ask Petzal” Q&A in the magazine about the best and worst shots in the movies. As the worst, I nominated Tom Selleck for his bucket shot in Quigley Down Under, in which he blasts a defenseless bucket to smithereens at some amazing distance with his Sharps, shooting offhand.

My point was that Selleck is a very experienced shooter in real life (and a very good guy, according to people who have met him), and he’d know that a professional like Quigley would never shoot offhand if he could take the shot kneeling, or sitting, or prone, or with crossed sticks. Maybe the director told him to take the shot offhand. If so, he should have bitch-slapped the director and done what he knew was right.

One of the hallmarks of a skilled field shot is the willingness to take a couple of seconds and look for a good position where he can get support for his rifle rather than simply blazing away the instant he spots game. As they say at Gunsite: “Get lower. Get closer.” Sometimes you have to stand on your hind legs like a fully evolved human being and shoot right now, but there was no need for that in the movie scene, and no buffalo hunter ever did it. Sitting, with sticks, was their preferred position.

The other problem is, even though I write at a 7th grade level (or so simply that even a member of the House of Representatives can understand me), a lot of people don’t get what I’m saying. Brian Williams warned me about that. Smiling his $7 million a year smile, he’d say, “Dave, you’re going right over their heads. Just listen to how I talk to them.”

And he was right. Achieving the epic dumbness of the language on NBC Nightly News was something that I can only dream of. But I digress.

One reader pointed out that what Quigley was shooting was not a .50 Sharps, as I stated, but a .45/110. He was correct. The rifle Selleck used had been converted from .50. Someday I will learn not to assume.

That same reader concluded “Other than that, keep spitting out pretty good stuff.”

Thank you. I’ll give it my best shot.