Pioneer pistol shooter enjoys retirement in Carson City
In the late 1950s, while competing in pistol-shooting competitions in Southern California, deputy sheriff Jack Weaver realized something that now seems obvious: You shoot more accurately if you aim.
Inspired by Western TV shows and movies, other competitors were shooting with one hand from the hip. Weaver held his revolver with both hands and looked down the sights. He hit far more targets than other shooters.
His revolutionary technique became known as the “Weaver Stance” and is now taught around the world.
“It seems obvious now like so many things do in retrospect,” Weaver said Thursday relaxing at his home off Jacks Valley Road with his wife, Joy. He remembered watching Jeff Cooper’s early Leatherslap shooting competitions at Big Bear, Calif.
“It was embarrassing for these guys sometimes. They’d blaze away, fire off all 12 rounds – six rounds each – and the balloons would still be standing. The crowd would just laugh.”
After working on his technique, Weaver went back and won Leatherslap in 1959.
He developed his shooting while running the gun range at Mira Loma, Calif., as an L.A. County deputy from 1954 through 1979.
“There would be days when not a single person would come to the range so I’d just shoot. Gosh, I’d shoot 100 rounds a day. I got pretty good. I could throw a rock in the air, draw the gun afterward and hit it.”
He and Cooper organized hundreds of shooting competitions in the late ’60s. With their group the Southwest Combat Pistol League, they’d use abandoned farms to hide dummy targets, do “deer hunts” with animal targets and even shoot from Weaver’s moving, 1929 Ford Model A roadster.
“I’d drive along at 15 mph for a half mile or so and they’d shoot from the back. We had a friend on a motorcycle who would come along and score the targets. It was a great time.”
Meanwhile, the Weaver Stance was becoming more and more popular. The old style of hip shooting was being replaced in Western films by Weaver’s technique.
In March 1982 Weaver got a letter from Quantico, Va.
” . . . The FBI academy, determined that your method of firing a handgun would afford our agents the quickest ‘on target’ technique with first hit capability,” the letter stated.
Other than the money he won in competition, Weaver has never profited from the stance he created. He’s never marketed any books or videos.
He and his wife moved to Carson City after he retired from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department in 1979. They had visited the area during vacations to dig for bottles in ghost towns.
Now he relaxes in a study with an impressive bottle collection. On the wall hangs a poster made by his son, Alan. With a picture of Weaver in competition during his heyday, it reads, “Since 1959 – Gun control that works – the Weaver Stance.”
Weaver doesn’t shoot much anymore. Why?
“Because he’s 75,” said his wife with a laugh.
He’s got a way to go, however, if his mother is any indication. Almost 95, Lucille Weaver still drives herself around Carson City.
“And she’s a mean Scrabble player,” said her son.
Once described in Guns & Ammo magazine as probably one of the best practical shooters in the world, Weaver now laughs at TV gangsters hold who hold their pistols sideways.
“They couldn’t even hit the proprietor of a 7-Eleven store at five feet,” he said.
Contact Karl Horeis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219