Book Review – “The Art and Science of Basic Handgun Accuracy” (W.W. Buttler, 1991)

The book “The Art and Science of Basic Handgun Accuracy” was published by W.W. Buttler in 1991. According to the book, Buttler was a Federal Air Marshal at the time the book was written. He was also a graduate of the Chapman Academy, the Caliber Press Officer Survival School, and many other programs, and an instructor certified by the NRA, FBI, and State of Missouri.

The book is a solid but brief (72 page) summary of what was being taught by most schools at that time. In its day it would have been a useful handbook to use in teaching basic and intro-level defensive pistol courses.

The book’s chapters are:

  1. Handgun Safety At Home on the Range
  2. Glossary of Terms – Handgun Nomenclature
  3. Out of the Box
  4. The Grip
  5. Sight Alignment
  6. Review
  7. Dry Firing – Putting it all together
  8. Recoil Acceptance and Control
  9. Live Fire
  10. Target Analysis
  11. The Stance
  12. Cleaning and Routine Maintenance
  13. Summary

Buttler’s discussion of handgun safety includes two different lists of 10 rules. All of the rules listed are good advice about safety, but this certainly serves as an example of the sort of confusion and excess advocates of Jeff Cooper’s 4 rules (and later the NRA’s 3 rules) point out as the reason for simplifying the safety rules.

The handgun nomenclature section covers both revolvers (S&W double action) and semi-automatic (1911 style). For the most part, all discussion of semi-autos is 1911-centric, aside from one picture of a field stripped Glock in the gun cleaning section.

Pros and cons of both revolver and semi-auto are presented in the “out of the box” chapter on gun selection, and the classic Weaver, as well as the thumb over thumb grip/Isoceles arm position are taught. The importance of dry firing is emphasized throughout the book.

Many photos show the author coaching a uniformed police officer, leading me to infer that the primary purpose of the book was for police academy use. Some discussion of pancake holsters for concealed carry is included.

Below are a couple of pages that I thought were noteworthy or interesting.

This was a nice graphic showing proper visual focus.

This graphic showed proper sight alignment and sight picture relative to the human anatomy.

Back in 1991, people were putting red dot sights on handguns.

This target analysis graphic is much better than the standard one that is widely distributed.

Nothing in this book is revolutionary, but it was an interesting snapshot of what was considered correct information for beginning shooters in the early 1990’s. Both this book and the author’s 1993 follow up, “The Armed Option: Zen in the art of combat pistolcraft” are out of print, but used copies are available from used booksellers. I found mine at a used bookstore in Loveland, Colorado (and I paid more than I would have had I ordered one from one of the used sellers on Amazon).