by B.B. Pelletier
Instinct shooting has been around for a very long time, but those who practiced it most were exhibition shooters. There was no formal program to teach anyone who wanted to learn. Then. in 1954, a tobacco salesman from Georgia – Lucky McDaniel – started a program of instruction. He taught thousands of people through the 1980s and several of his students went into the teaching business on their own.
At first, Lucky used .22 rimfires. In circumstances where he couldn’t use them, he substituted BB guns. The sights were removed from all guns so the student would concentrate on Lucky’s method of mounting the gun. A BB gun’s sights are usually just snapped off with a pair of pliers. Before long, however, Lucky found himself wanting to have a special gun made for his training, so he approached Daisy.
In 1958, Lucky went to Daisy and demonstrated his method to their top brass in the company parking lot. It took the better part of the day, because they were fascinated with what they saw. The result was the creation of a special Daisy Lucky McDaniel Instinct Shooting Set. It came out in 1959 and was made for only one year. They probably didn’t move very fast, because without the training people didn’t know what to make of a gun that had no sights.
Daisy’s Lucky McDaniel shooting set was made for just one year.
In the years that followed, the U.S. Army became interested in instinct shooting for Vietnam-bound soldiers. They had a regular training program given at Fort Benning, Georgia, not far from Lucky’s home in Columbus. They called their program “Quick Kill,” and tens of thousands of inductees went through it. There was also a program in Vietnam for those who hadn’t been to Benning.
The Army buys BB guns
Daisy became interested, again, when grass roots inquiries tipped the scales, and they put together a new package. This time, Lucky’s name was left off, and the program was called “Quick Skill.” It lasted from the late 1960s through the end of the 20th century, coming and going as interest dictated. The Army sold many of their BB guns in the 1990s, so now there are hundreds and perhaps even thousands of sightless BB guns with the markings of Army training centers painted on their stocks or “U.S. Prop.” stamped into the wood. Collectors eagerly snap them up. There have also been many special guns, such as one made with the Ducks Unlimited logo on a decal on the stock.
Lucky went to the Parris Manufacturing Company to have a gun built for his program. These guns look like the model I showed you in the post about the Parris Kadet Trainer, but Lucky’s guns have his decal on the stock. While they shouldn’t have sights, all the ones I have examined, which have only been about five, did have both front and rear sights.
Two books about the program
Both books are highly collectible. The first is Instinct Shooting and was written by Mike Jennings and published in 1959 by Dodd, Mead. It was included in the Daisy Lucky McDaniel shooting set box. Expect to pay $30 to $50 for this book (used). Lucky co-authored his own book with Bill Reece in 1980 – Lucky McDaniel’s Secrets To Shooting. This book comes in hardcover from Cosco Press, a division of Columbus Office Supply Company, and in softcover from Waldrup Printing Co. You’ll pay $50 to $125 for either of Lucky’s books. There are also numerous Army publications and Infantry School publications about Quick Kill.
In all, there is a wealth of material and guns for the collector who is interested in shooting without sights. I haven’t told you the best parts yet: the program, itself, or how well you will shoot when you learn. And, I haven’t told you who took the training. That’ll be in Part 2.