- Quick-draw champion Nicole Franks rates 11 gunslinging scenes from movies and TV shows for realism.
- Franks analyzes techniques in films such as “Django Unchained” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
- She looks at unconventional quick-draw scenes in “The Mandalorian,” “Collateral,” and “John Wick.”
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Nicole Franks: Hi, I’m Nicole Franks. I am the women’s world fast-draw champion. I’m from Langley, British Columbia, Canada. I also have 50 world records, 12 world championships, and over 50 major championship wins. And today I’ll be rating fast-draw clips from movies.
“The Good the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)
[Blondie shoots Angel Eyes in a Mexican standoff]
Nicole: In this scene, there’s a lot of staring going on, and actually I do this. I go to my target, and I just stare it up. And I go — When you squint your eyes, you typically are locking in on your target. And you’re just trying to take out any peripheral vision in your shooting. A blink of an eye is actually 0.26, roughly, and that is my fastest world record. So when they say “blink of an eye,” there’s a reason to that.
Clint Eastwood doesn’t have a lot of body movement. He’s very straight up and down, but you can tell that he actually has shot before, because his wrists are very firm. So when he grabs the gun, he just grabs the gun and he just sort of locks it right in. And he does shoot out a little bit more than I would shoot, but he does have just a complete arm movement. It’s just super smooth.
There’s actually a lot of cutout in his holster. So, two different style of holsters back in the day. Some holsters, the leather would go all the way up to the top. This would make it a lot harder, because you would have to pull out a lot further to clear the leather. Where he has the leather almost all cut out for him. That gives you a lot more room to already start rotating the gun back quicker and get it out.
In this scene, you’ll see Angel Eyes has his holster positioned more so to the left of his body. The reason why people would have this is most of the time it’s horseback riders. They would keep it on the left-hand side, and they would hold the reins with the other, and then anytime an intruder or something happens, they have the option of grabbing their gun and shooting. When you have it over to the side of the hip, the gun can actually fall out of the holster a lot more.
It was just straight, it was just firm, and it was a lock draw. So I would give him about an eight. There’s nothing pizzazz about it, though.
“Django Unchained” (2012)
[Django shoots at a snowman]
Nicole: In this scene, Jamie Foxx starts off with his hand off. It’s the Old West style. They would intimidate and move their fingers to make people think they were going to draw ahead of time. So, some people believe that hands off is slower than hands on. I personally don’t believe that. If I have hands off, I have a little bit more of a kick than if I’m just going and grabbing the gun. It’s a little bit more of a versus just, like, a wrist flick. It’s just personal preference.
He actually has his holster a little bit far back, and he’s pulling it out so far back that he sort of stumbles this little bit in order to get his gun to go forward and shoot. If he had his gun where I have it, more forward, it would come out a lot easier.
Jamie Foxx was thumbing. You can’t just pull the trigger and fire. So, you’re thumbing the gun by pulling the hammer back. Then you pull the trigger, and that fires it.
He was bringing the gun very up and down and then really far out, which would be good for accuracy, and he is doing point shooting, so it works for this scene.
[Django shoots several shots at enemies standing in a doorway]
Nicole: In the second clip, Jamie Foxx is actually fanning. So he is grabbing the gun and he’s using his opposite hand and he’s fanning the gun, which actually is much quicker because you can hold down the trigger and use your opposing hand to fan the gun. And that would make it quicker. Versus thumbing each one back individually, one, two, one, two, one, two.
He is doing it right, but the gun is obviously quite heavy for him because he’s aiming downwards. See that little bit of weak wrist snap? He’s not shooting level. He’s shooting down. That might be because he can get down on the hammer easier versus going straight across.
So, the gun that Jamie Foxx is using is a thumbing gun. When it’s a thumbing gun, the hammer is back further. So you actually have to come down on the gun. If he had a fanning gun, with the hammer forward, it would be a lot easier to fan. You could actually go straight across. So, I typically use this part of my finger, which is my middle finger, and come down, instead of Jamie Foxx is using his whole hand. You can get your soft tissues get caught, pinched in the gun, versus if you just have one clean sweep with my one finger here, it can go back a lot easier.
I mean, the last shot was bomb. He did it in the Old Western style, but the way he was doing it was pretty … pretty decent. I would definitely give him, like, at least a seven out of 10.
[Vincent quickly fires his gun at two assailants]
Nicole: So, Tom Cruise is obviously not using a revolver, but his stance is actually very similar to what I would be doing in fast draw. His legs are over shoulder width apart. He has his right foot forward and bent. And when he shoots, he’s actually bringing his arm back and pinched in, which is very similar to me. He had his arm out, he grabs, he comes in, and he shoots. And then he does the typical 9-mil, I guess, style of shooting out forward for his second opponent.
He does have his hips thrusted forward. He’s actually bringing it into his side and locking the gun. So it’s actually a very smooth draw. It’s a little bit even more similar to my style than even those Old Western clips. Like, when I’m shooting, I have my one foot more forward. And then he goes, you know, like this.
[Nicole draws her gun while leaning backwards]
Where the old school, they’re, like, straight up and down, and they’re like…
[Nicole draws her gun rigidly]
You can tell that Tom Cruise actually shoots. I personally think it was a great shot. I would actually probably give him a perfect 10 out of 10.
[Teddy bumps into a man and then shoots him]
Nicole: It looks as if he may already have the gun cocked back, and then when he goes to shoot, he fires the gun and then pretends to fan. So it was actually quite bad. It’s so quick that most people would never notice.
He also looks a little bit sloppy when he’s doing it. He’s sort of, like, hunched forward, like this, and the gun is, like, tipped up in the air. So it wasn’t the smoothest draw, by any means. So, there’s a huge night-and-day difference between the first clip of “Westworld” and then James Marsden actually practicing.
[James Marsden fires several shots at a firing range]
He is very straight up and down still, but the third shot in that practice sequence was really impressive, because he thumbs the first one, and then he fans the second one. He went from being awkward to more confident, with a very clean stance and clean draw.
The season one “Westworld,” I probably would give that more like a four out of 10. It was just sloppy. There wasn’t a lot of form. On the plus side, his training video I would almost give a 9.5 out of 10. It was crisp, clean, and a lot of improvement.
“The Mandalorian” (2020)
[Mando shoots his blaster at an opponent]
Nicole: So, in this scene, as you can see, the Mandalorian is really ready to shoot. He’s sort of hovering over his gun, and he’s just waiting for the guy to get up. And as soon as the guy moves, he grabs his gun, and he just has a forward motion for his shot. It’s quite high.
The draw itself was actually quite smooth. I just really liked that the scene showed that he was, like, waiting in anticipation for his opponent. For him shooting with such a long gun, he does have a pretty good action. It’s swift. It’s going out forward. He locks it in. It’s not easy to shoot a long gun, ’cause it’s a lot more pull to bring it out.
The draw was actually pretty good for that style of gun and this style of shooting. Nine.
“John Wick” (2014)
[John Wick shoots at several enemies in an art gallery]
Nicole: If you compare this to “Collateral,” Keanu Reeves is actually grabbing with two hands almost pretty much right off the bat, where … so, that’s the typical shooting of a semiautomatic.
So, the way that Keanu Reeves does it is he’s shooting off his main foot. The reason why is you can typically get more movement than when you’re straight, you can’t really move as much. But there is different styles of shooting. It’s lead foot, opposing foot, or width is typically common. I just like that he’s going with his lead foot. I just think that it makes it easier for him to pivot and turn. And it just, it looks really clean the way he’s doing it. His front forward is a pivot. So he’s shooting and pivoting around, versus having to turn, like, his whole body and moving both feet left and right, left and right. He can just use it as a pivot point.
It looks really good. I could give him an 8.
“A Fistful of Dollars” (1964)
[Clint Eastwood’s character shoots at several enemies standing by a fence]
Nicole: Clint Eastwood is doing a fanning style. He’s grabbing the gun, and he’s locking it, and all he has to do is turn his body. It’s always going to be level, because he has it locked into his side. So he goes bang, bang, bang. Tilts his body up. Bang. Tilts his body down. Bang. The reason why you do this is just more accuracy. Less flimsy wrist, less poking it all around.
When I’m fanning, I actually thrust my hips forward, which gives me more of an angle of my shooting. I have my shoulder out, and it’s more just a, a pop and lock, pop and lock. I do like that he locks it in to get his opposing targets, versus using a sloppy wrist or moving his whole entire arm. So I do like that form.
That is this form that I use. So a good nine out of 10.
“Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
[Han Solo shoots at Darth Vader as Chewbacca roars]
Nicole: This is, like, the definition of point and shoot. “There’s my target! There I go!”
When people first start shooting, they actually do this. And I’m like, “Oh, boy.” Like, he’s punching at his target, he’s going as far as he can, and he’s like, “Bang, I got you!” So it’s basically just a beginner thing to do.
When you jump forward and shoot, you have a tendency to go low, because you’re, you know, you’re almost going forward. It’s just a natural reaction. It’s not something that I ever encourage people to do, because it creates bad habits. The more you push forward, the harder it will be to draw back. Because once you get into a habit of doing something, it’s super hard to break.
He might be sort of turning to the side to get away from shots. Sometimes people will shoot to the side to make themselves slimmer. ‘Cause the more width you are, the more target for somebody shooting back at you. And if you turn to the side, you’re a little bit harder to shoot. But he’s not shooting back, so I don’t really know why he’s shooting to the side.
As a quick-draw artist, I would give this a tacky two.
Nicole: It was all ugly. That was the pin that we’re talking about, the firing pin. See how his finger’s almost touching it? A lot of people don’t like those guns for the fact that you could catch it. But for fanning, you wouldn’t want to use one with a firing pin exposed, because you could actually poke your finger with it.
The actual thumbing itself, the way he grabbed the hammer back and thumbed the gun, looked really, really good. But then, all of a sudden, it’s like a split clip, and then you see him sort of jolt up and messily trying to shoot under his arm. It’s just unrealistic. Especially if you’re thumbing the gun, to have your hand in front and try to shoot under it, you might shoot your arm off.
I didn’t like it. I thought it was, like, really messy, unsafe. I feel like he could have done it a lot better. I would say he’s probably gonna get, like, a three.
“Trinity Is Still My Name” (1971)
[Trinity repeatedly slaps his opponent in a bar and draws his gun]
Nicole: He’s definitely throwing him off with his left hand. You watch the hand that moves first, so he has a good tactic on that one.
It comes out of the holster fairly smoothly, but that’s the reason why it’s coming out of the holster really smoothly, is because it’s a lowered holster. One of the reasons why his holster might be lower is it gives some more options to move around. But his draw has no, like, accuracy form. So good thing the guy’s only, like, a foot away from him.
He is doing an all-arm motion. There’s no lock at all to it. And when he does that, if you notice, he butts down his wrist, and he actually has his gun sort of tilted upwards. So when he goes to draw, he goes all arm and he butts it down. So, with all shooting sports, it’s actually very important to have strong wrists. I have incredibly strong wrists. So no matter how I fan, my wrist is always locked and firm.
I’d probably rate it a five out of 10. It doesn’t come out badly, he’s not doing a lot badly, it’s just that he doesn’t have a lot of accuracy. It isn’t the worst. It isn’t the best. It’s just mediocre.
Nicole: It is the safest gun sport in the world, ’cause we’re shooting wax or black powder blanks. That’s why we can shoot as fast as we can.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.