Part 1 - Chapter 17 - Sing's Final Exam

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Day after day I continued to practice my fast draw. God, I got so bored. Sir Denholm coached me and helped me fine tune my technique. One thing he had been right about. After a while I didn't have to think about what I was doing. It started coming natural to me. My breathing, my hand contact with the butt of the gun, thumbing, aligning, and shooting. Muscle memory, he had called it.

My thumb calloused over.

On the morning of the seventeenth day, I finally was able to beat Denholm. I pulled the trigger before he could slap away my pistol. He allowed me to practice with live ammo shooting at paper targets. He wouldn't let me draw and shoot and told me that I'd probably shoot myself in the foot. It took me a week and a couple thousand rounds of ammo to get the hang of it. By the end of two weeks I could consistently drill all six rounds into center mass of a man-sized paper target at thirty feet.

On a hot July morning, Denholm and I approached the range firing line. He hung my target and said, "Today we put it all together. Draw and shoot. You're proficient at each of the two components. Combining them is the next step."

He handed me a box of shells and said, "To begin, draw your weapon, pause, and then shoot. The pause part of the sequence is to make sure you have no accidents. Once you become comfortable with the mechanics, then you can skip the pause."

The first few times I was nervous. I'd feel like a total ass if I did manage to shoot my foot off. I did as Denholm instructed. I paused, made sure the barrel was pointed down range, and then squeezed off my shots.

After going through a box of fifty rounds, Denholm asked me if I was ready to drop the pause. "Just take it slow," he told me. "You'll get faster as you build confidence. The important thing is to maintain a smooth, fluid movement."

For sure, I was anxious, but everything turned out fine. It dawned on me the wisdom behind Denholm forcing me to master each step in the sequence before putting them together in a fast draw. By the end of another week, I no longer had to think about what I was doing. It all came naturally, my muscle memory was fully developed, and I knew that I was fast, really fast.

"I suppose it's time to setup the chronograph," Denholm said. He pulled the device from the gun room. I helped him set it up.

"How's it work?" I asked

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"How's it work?" I asked.

"The buzzer kicks off a timer which is your signal to draw. The chronograph is calibrated to stop the clock after your sixth shot breaks the plane of its sensor field."

He hung the paper target at thirty feet and asked, "Are you ready?"

I got into position at the shooting line. "Ready."

Denholm sounded the buzzer. I blasted the target and slipped the Vaquero back into my holster. Denholm studied the chronograph readout.

"Well?" I asked

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