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Police History: L.A. County Sheriff's Pistol Team

This vintage early color footage shows the LASD Pistol Team at Biscailuz Range during a shooting skills exhibition in 1938. It features legendary marksman and LASD Aero Bureau aviation pioneer Sgt. Sewell Griggers.

May 10, 2013

Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

LLC98 @ 5/14/2013 12:28 PM

Please someone tell me this is not for real!!!!

HAL ADLEMAN @ 5/14/2013 3:51 PM

When did the idiocy of one-handed point shooting end?
When did they start using eyes, unlike what we see in the video?
There also seems to be a lack of ear protection.

LEONARD @ 5/14/2013 5:44 PM

I joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 1970 and have a little knowledge of what the film was about.

Remember it was taken in 1938 and:

1) “Please someone tell me this is not for real!!!!”

Yes, to use a famous quote, "And that's the way it was!"

In those days when you were hired as a deputy, they gave you a badge and a gun. Any “training” came after the fact. The film is just an “example” of what the training was like and the skill involved by the “expert marksmen”

2) “When did the idiocy of one-handed point shooting end?”

The revolver was “double action” which meant you had to “cock the hammer” and then pull the trigger to fire the weapon. Having the “weak” hand also holding the weapon would just interfere with the process.

That pretty much changed in 1988 when we switched to the Beretta 9mm semi-automatic

3) “When did they start using eyes, unlike what we see in the video?”

I cannot answer that one but I know it was mandatory when I came on.

4) “There also seems to be a lack of ear protection.”

I guess you missed the part where the “trainee” is given a “wad of cotton” by the instructor to put in his ears. The concept of “hearing damage” was not like it is today. Even when I first started, the methods of “ear protection” included, tearing off the ends of a “filtered” cigarettes to use or even taking a used/fired cartridge and putting the “base end” of it in your ear.

5) A lot has changed in the 70 plus years since the movie was made. Cops needed to train with their weapons and it was based on the knowledge at the time.

I hope you find this information useful.

Dee Griggers Derobertis @ 3/15/2015 5:11 PM

Re: Sewell shooting video. It is for real -- he was my uncle. With 2 of his deputies, one sometimes was my other uncle) facing each other holding the ends of a cigar in their mouths, Sewell could shoot the (with one hand holding the revolver) so that the cigar band would pop off and the cigar was intact and could be smoked. He was an excellent marksman since he was a boy. Hard to believe, I know.

Dee Griggers Derobertis @ 3/15/2015 6:57 PM

This is for real .. Sewell was my uncle. He was an excellent marksman since he was a young boy. He could shoot, yes with one hand, the cigar band off a cigar the ends of which were held in the mouth of 2 deputies (sometimes my other uncle Lyndell). The cigar would still be intact, ready to smoke. Apparently shooting techniques and probably revolvers have changed. I would hope that the integrity and professionalism with which Sewell carried out his duties in his carreer and his abilities as a marksman is respected.

Dawn @ 3/15/2015 10:38 PM

I agree about your comments that there was not much protection back then, things have progreesed for us thankfully in the years as things do.
I disagree with your judgemental comments about the skills of the shooter.
That shooter, a highly respected Captain, for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, could shoot the cherry off a cigar with a .38 Smith and Wesson. People had so much confidence in him, they would stand infront of the target, put chalk in their ears to let him shoot it out. He could shoot the initials S.W.E. T. With an Old "Tommy Gun" and add the "."
Can you do the same or even close? Would your partners trust you enough and stand infront of a target while you took a shot? No. I do not think so. That was a different time, and a piece of history. They just dedicated a new Helicoptor to that man and put his Initials on the tail. His name WAS Sewell Griggers and he was my Great Uncle. I wish I had just a small bit of his shooting skills when I started in 1984 w S&W.38

Roxanne Anderson @ 5/4/2018 6:18 AM

Hi, Leonard!
My name is Roxanne, I work at a Fire Dept in S. Georgia. My message is not about the Sewell shooting, I have a question for you because you became a deputy with LA County back when I was only 5yrs old. I am actually looking for my biological father, who may be Jack Weaver.
Do you remember if he, or the LASD Pistol team ever went to Hawaii in 1965, before you came on board with the LASD?
A long shot, but just trying to piece his history together.
Thank you for your time!

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