LAPD Pistol Team – 1934 [Updated]

LAPD Pistol Team

Photo: The LAPD pistol team puts on a demonstration at the Auto Club headquarters in 1934. Credit: “Three Cars in Every Garage: A Motorist’s History of the Automobile and the Automobile Club of Southern California,” Page 164.

Did they really do this? Yes, they really did.

Photo: LAPD pistol team puts on a demonstration about 1950. Credit: Los Angeles Police Department.

[Update: Oh, lovely. Now they’re holding chalk in their mouths. This photo is from “Los Angeles Police Department” by Thomas G. Hays, Arthur W. Sjoquist and William J. Bratton.]

LAPD Pistol Team

[Update: Despite the caption in the book, I’m a bit skeptical that these are LAPD officers. The LAPD motorcycle officers wore soft caps like this, but the uniforms don’t seem right. Unfortunately, the scan is from a book, so it’s not sharp enough to show more detail.]

I found this history of the Auto Club in my favorite downtown haunt, the Last Bookstore. It has lots of Auto Club photos of horseless carriages with jaunty captions about the old days. This image caught my attention, however. I almost can’t believe they used to do this (I assume they’re shooting .22s as I imagine anything larger might go through the plywood backstop) but they obviously did. Chief James Davis  was a noted marksman and these unidentified officers were certainly good shots. It still makes me uncomfortable.

LAPD Pistol Team

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1934, Books and Authors, LAPD, Photography, Transportation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to LAPD Pistol Team – 1934 [Updated]

  1. Rotter says:

    That’s a helluva way to get a promotion….


  2. Damon says:

    Usually done with wax “bullets.” They sting, and will take out an eye. Somewhat like paintballs.


  3. Sam Flowers says:

    The two tone uniform worn by Motor Cops was a uniform of the 20’s and early 30’s. Chief Davis was a big supporter of marksmanship. I witnessed the shooting team demonstration in the early 50’s at the Masonic Temple at Pico and Fig., the room was large but if they used full powdered rounds it would have been dangerous. They did shoot chalk and cigarettes out of the mouth of officers. They were definitely expert shots. Wax bullets were probably used but even so I would not want to get hit by one. You will never see demonstrations like that again in this day and age.


  4. lapd13142 says:

    The LAPD has a long and colorful history of awards in the arena of marksmanship dating back to when the LAPD Academy was first built. In fact the main pistol range, which is still in use today, was the shooting venue for the 1932 International Olympics! A lot of good shooters have come and gone through this range, but only a small handful have ever fired a perfect 400 score on the official Bonus Course. A list of the shooters’ names who have achieved a perfect score is displayed in the main building of the LAPD Police Academy.


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