Sherlock Holmes: A Historically Good Shot?

Hound of the BaskervillesWhile everyone is familiar with the many skills of the world's first consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, what is not generally known is just how fine a marksman he really was.

Many Sherlockian scholars of the past have tried to denigrate his shooting skills, but they are at best misinformed and at worst, woefully wrong.

For example, in "The Musgrave Ritual," Holmes' associate and chronicler, Dr. John H. Watson, describes an occasion, "'¦when Holmes in one of his queer humors would sit in an arm-chair with his hair trigger and a hundred Boxer cartridges, and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patriotic V.R [the royal monogram for Queen Victoria] done in bullet pocks, I felt that neither the atmosphere nor the appearance of the room was improved by it"

As well, using his .450 short-barreled Webley Metropolitan Police revolver, in "The Sign of the Four," Holmes, with some help from Watson, was able to pick off a Pygmy Andaman Islander at a fair distance from the deck of one moving steam launch to another.

As recounted in "The Hound of the Baskervilles," Holmes dispatched the "hound of hell" — actually a large mastiff/bloodhound mix — by emptying "five barrels (chambers) into the creature's flank."

This unerring marksmanship was undertaken in semi-darkness under the most harrowing circumstances, as the beast was savaging Sir Henry Baskerville who, thanks to Holmes, survived the attack.

There are numerous other examples, but it must be admitted that along with his acumen as a boxer, unerring deductive powers and skill as a master of disguise, we can also add, Holmes was one heck of a shot.

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