The fastest gun in the west: RIP last month

2044BobMundenBob Munden was the fastest gun in the West, or anywhere else for that matter. The Guinness Book said so, and Munden often appeared on television as well as in person, competing against the clock. He was a gun culture icon and role model, like Herb Parsons and Ad Topperwein had been before him. He remained an icon to a devoted throng of fans until his passing.

Munden passed away from a heart attack December 10th, in his hometown of Butte, Montana,. He was 70 years old. He leaves behind his wife Becky, two daughters, 3500 trophies, 800 championship titles and 18 entries in world records books, some of which still stand.

While he always said that anyone could learn to do what he did, with enough practice, few ever approached his skill. In comments to the NRA, Munden credited Jeff Cooper with the best shooting advice he ever received: “If you keep a cool head and shoot your best, you’re going to compete with anyone. The guy that stays cool, wins.” Munden was the essence of cool, even as his .45 blazed.

Bob’s own site has a lot of interesting information about him, including  this, from his own obit:

At age 68 Munden appeared on Stan Lee’s Superhumans on the History Channel. The episode shows a scientist reporting that Munden’s hand withstands 10 Gs of force when he draws and fires his gun from the holster. Viewers learn that as a comparison, jet pilots are trained to withstand 9 Gs, and that Bob is “faster than a rattlesnake.” In a demo during the same show, Munden draws and shoots two balloons six feet apart with two shots that sound virtually like one.

In an era that loved the west and loved shooting, especially rapid, accurate shooting, Munden was the guy who could do it best. He was as accurate as he was fast, and while may not have been the one that originated the trick-shooter’s stunt of splitting a playing card by hitting it on its edge, to his dying day he could do it with Colt SAA or 1911.

Ironically, the fast-draw ethos owes more to Hollywood than any real Deadwood, and Munden knew it and never tired of telling media people about it. The Telegraph explains:

 In 1963 he met his wife Becky, the women’s quick-draw champion, at a tournament in southern California. They married the following year and in 1969 they decided to become full-time professional shooters and fast-draw artists.

Munden and his wife appeared numerous times on television, including the Paul Daniels Show in Britain, and became an authority on the use of firearms in the Old West, which was nothing like the Hollywood myth: “There weren’t any fast-draw artists in the Old West,” he said. “The guns weren’t designed for it, and the holsters were designed to keep the gun in place.”

It was for this reason that he believed Wild Bill Hickok to have been the deadliest gunman of that time, as Hickok carried his two Remington revolvers in a red sash tied around his waist.

via Bob Munden – Telegraph.

Bob’s route into the gun culture was a direct one: as a competitive child, he got interested in guns, and was immersed in quick-draw competition from boyhood. Westerm entertainment then was focused on Hollywood mythology, but it was not the somewhat quirky subculture that it’s become since the rise of Cowboy Action Shooting as a sport.

the gun culture has always been enamored of the quick draw, to the point where it looms large in so-called practical pistol competitions. If you study actual defensive gun uses, you’ll find that the rapid draw is a rare requirement. There’s arguably more justification for combat weapons users practicing a fast transition from empty or jammed carbine to pistol, than there is for pistol carriers playing Quick Draw McGraw.

So it’s interesting to see that one of the greatest quick-draw artists of all time was aware that what he was doing was — and is — a circus act. But that said, it’s time to honor Bob Munden, who passed away last month, for the incredible, dedicated artist, athlete and performer that he was.

Hell of a thing, that we’ve got to call up a page from London to read his obituary here in his own country. But it’s a hell of a good thing that we’re able to.

Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds.

Update: What may have been Bob’s last performance for the cameras, shot about two months before his unexpected passing. YouTube video after the jump.

Yes, you can shoot skeet with a .45 revolver, and split a playing card with a 1911. If you’re Bob Munden:

You will probably have some more Munden videos suggested for you after this one ends. It can be a very entertaining half hour or hour of watching this admirable sportsman at work.

Thanks for reading, all, and why not let Bob Munden’s lifelong pursuit of improvement inspire you? You could pick worse role models.