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Blinking gunfighters

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Jimski
670020.  Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:01 am Reply with quote

In the latest episode of the series (UK broadcast date 12 February 2010) when discussing How many bullets did a gunfighter have in his pistol?" it was stated that only 2 cinema gunfighters were known not to blink when shooting their weapons - Clint Eastwood and Yul Brynner.

The actor Richard Benjamin, who starred in Westworld with Brynner, often related a story on this matter that contradicts this. He told that Brynner taught him a simple method to learn to shoot without blinking. When practicing to draw or fire Brynner advocated putting only one cartridge in the gun and spinning the chamber, as per Russian Roulette, before pulling the trigger.

This meant that when the actor actually used his gun, the chances of hitting a cartidge were only 1 in 6 and thus most times the actor just heard a 'click' and didn't blink. This instinct became so strong that, after practice, the actor became so conditioned not to blink that when the hammer fell on a real cartridge the instinct to blink was supressed.

If you look at footage of Benjamin shooting in Westworld you can clearly see he does not blink for most of the action. Brynner's advice clearly worked.

 
RLDavies
670239.  Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:13 am Reply with quote

I'm sure there were a few other actors who didn't blink when shooting.

It's rather surprising, but Jerry Lewis was an excellent quick-draw shooter in his day. He probably didn't blink. But I don't know if he was ever in any movies that required gunplay.

 
grabagrannie
670258.  Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:34 am Reply with quote

Sammy Davis Jr was also famously quick-on-the-draw. I have a notion that he may have held a world record for drawing and firing a gun. He used to appear on TV chat shows and do all that fancy stuff - twirling the gun around the trigger finger etc and tossing it from hand to hand. I have no idea whether he blinked or not when he fired the gun. Since he had only one eye (following a car accident), I had started to wonder whether the good eye blinked and the glass eye didn't, but I suppose the blink reflex always works both eyelids simultaneously.

 
RLDavies
670273.  Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:20 am Reply with quote

Yes, I forgot Sammy Davis Jr (mainly because last night we were talking about Jerry Lewis).

Blinking at gunfire is part of the startle reflex. Part of becoming an experienced shooter is eliminating this reflex. So any actor who was a decent shooter in real life would be unlikely to blink.

 
dr.bob
670792.  Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:39 am Reply with quote

Jimski wrote:
In the latest episode of the series (UK broadcast date 12 February 2010) when discussing How many bullets did a gunfighter have in his pistol?" it was stated that only 2 cinema gunfighters were known not to blink when shooting their weapons


To be fair, this fact was not "stated". Stephen merely related a story in which a Hollywood armourer claimed that only 2 cinema gunfighters were known not to blink when shooting their weapons.

The accuracy or otherwise of random hollywood insiders that Stephen has met in the past cannot be guaranteed by the QI management.

 
crissdee
679753.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:51 am Reply with quote

Re; the quick draw prowess of various Hollywood stars. I may have mentioned this before, but I remember reading in a US gun mag, that Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr had both managed to shoot themselves in the leg while practising their gunplay.

Re; blinking shooting stars. The absolute worst I have ever seen for this is Bruce Willis, particularly in the early iterations of "Die Hard". As he fires his pistol, he is not only blinking, but screwing his face up and almost looking away from the gun.

 
BondiTram
679833.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:16 am Reply with quote

crissdee wrote:
Re; the quick draw prowess of various Hollywood stars. I may have mentioned this before, but I remember reading in a US gun mag, that Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr had both managed to shoot themselves in the leg while practising their gunplay.

Re; blinking shooting stars. The absolute worst I have ever seen for this is Bruce Willis, particularly in the early iterations of "Die Hard". As he fires his pistol, he is not only blinking, but screwing his face up and almost looking away from the gun.


You mean that they actually used real bullets in films, let alone when practising?

On the question of blinking I can't really see that it makes any difference to the accuracy of the shooting. I play petanque and I saw a serious suggestion in a forum that a good practice for shooting was to set up some target boules, take aim and then shut the eyes before swinging the arm. I was prepared for the ridicule that followed but was surprised enough by the favourable reaction of some of the world's best players that I tried it myself. I'm not sure if it made me any better, but it certainly didn't make me any worse. When you concentrate your gaze on something then close your lids an image is left before your eyes but without peripheral interference.

 
PDR
679849.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:05 am Reply with quote

"Use The Force, Luke!"

PDR

 
bobwilson
680027.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:23 pm Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
Jimski wrote:
In the latest episode of the series (UK broadcast date 12 February 2010) when discussing How many bullets did a gunfighter have in his pistol?" it was stated that only 2 cinema gunfighters were known not to blink when shooting their weapons


To be fair, this fact was not "stated". Stephen merely related a story in which a Hollywood armourer claimed that only 2 cinema gunfighters were known not to blink when shooting their weapons.

The accuracy or otherwise of random hollywood insiders that Stephen has met in the past cannot be guaranteed by the QI management.


Oooh Dr Bob. You aren't turning into some civil servant are you? If so, I have to say that you're being a bit cleverer than average. But I'd hate to have to question EVERYTHING that's stated on semantic grounds.

 
Jenny
680186.  Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:03 pm Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
But I'd hate to have to question EVERYTHING that's stated on semantic grounds.


I thought that was your speciality, bob!

 
RLDavies
680226.  Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:43 pm Reply with quote

BondiTram wrote:
On the question of blinking I can't really see that it makes any difference to the accuracy of the shooting.

If you're blinking, you're probably also flinching. And that makes a big difference!

Once at a gun show I had a go on a shooting range set up for blind people. Sighted people were invited to put on a blindfold and try it. Found it much easier than using my eyes.

 
Ion Zone
682627.  Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:02 pm Reply with quote

I've shot clay pigeons with a twelve-bore, (I have only deep contempt for those who feel shooting at real ones is more entertaining, however).

 
Droid
682632.  Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:18 pm Reply with quote

I've only ever shot .22 bullets at (paper) targets, but have to confess (it/that) is good fun.

 
Ion Zone
682634.  Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:25 pm Reply with quote

I used a high-powered air rifle in Ireland, they just go though anything.

 
RLDavies
682767.  Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:30 am Reply with quote

I was mostly a pistol shooter (when it was legal), but must admit I'm better with a rifle. And even better masquerading as a blind person with a rifle!

It was a fascinating thing. It was an indoor air-rifle range. The rifle was set up with a light sensor ("acoustic sights") that could tell what part of the target it was pointing at. This was connected to headphones, and you heard a tone that went up or down accordingly.

BBC report

 

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