Born in 1933, Buz Fawcett hunted extensively as a youth and was recognized for his skills as a shotgunner. Using a single-shot, 16 gauge and an Ithaca .410 side-by-side, Fawcett earned several awards for trap shooting before the age of 14. When he was ready to move on from trap, Buz’s father handed down his grandfather’s Winchester Model 12. Grandfather “Billy” had used it as a member of the 1924 U.S. Olympic trap team before creating Whiz Bang magazine and Fawcett Publications.
Growing up in a publishing family, Fawcett was hired as an associate editor for Sports Afield magazine. He recalled “entering the Dark Ages.” There, he read and edited many articles on shooting techniques that confused his own, and he struggled with shooting shotguns.
In 1964, he moved to California and became Guns & Ammo’s third editor. In his words, he found “a position where he could shoot as much as he liked,” yet gave up shotguns altogether. Tom Siatos was promoted to editorial director and introduced Fawcett to readers in July 1964.
Fawcett became G&A’s editor in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963. The tragedy advanced the effort by antigun advocates to severely restrict or ban guns. Fawcett used his position to champion both shooting sports and gun rights. He created and assigned columns that put a spotlight on current-event politics and encouraged readers to support letter writing campaigns that influenced congressmen and senators as well as President Lyndon B. Johnson.
After only six years in production, G&A had built a reputation for bringing exclusive first-looks of new firearms and ammunition to the awareness of readers. Most notably, Fawcett coined the phrase, “You saw it first in Guns & Ammo,” and wrote the article “Offbeat Plinking” that introduced the venerable Ruger 10/22 in November 1964.
Fawcett’s last feature for G&A was “The World’s Fastest Shot — 37,060 fps!” published in the August 1965 issue. In it, he called attention to NASA’s studies that used a .22 fired at extreme high velocity to examine the effects of space debris striking spacecraft and the suits of astronauts.
Fawcett relocated to Minnesota — and later to Idaho — where he began developing instinctive shotgun shooting techniques and started a shooting school. Fawcett’s life lessons appear in his work “Instinctive Shooting: The Making of a Master Gunner” published in 2013.
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