Jelly Bryce, the legendary FBI agent sharpshooter
Found this on the net searching for something else about Wild Bill Hickock a few years back and put it up on my forum back then
JELLY BRYCE,THE FBI'S LEGENDARY SHARPSHOOTER
November 12, 1945, by K. B. Chaffin
On November 12, 1945, Life Magazine ran an unusual story. It was a photographic study of an FBI agent named Jelly Bryce drawing and firing his .357 Magnum in two-fifths of a second, faster than the human eye can follow. In the pictures Bryce dropped a silver dollar from shoulder height with his right hand then drew with the same hand and shot the coin before it reached his waist. What the article did not say was that Bryce could not only draw fast in front of a camera, but also in front of people who were trying to kill him. In fact, at that time, Bryce had already killed over 10 men in face-to-face shootouts as a city policeman and FBI Agent. In his era Bryce was undoubtedly the FBI's deadliest gun and may have been the best they ever had.
To paraphrase Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: who was this guy?
D.A. Bryce was born in 1906 in Mt. View, Oklahoma, a small town in southwest Oklahoma. There was a story that went around in later years that baby Bryce had been allowed to teethe on his daddy's pistol and had thereby imbibed some of his later ability with hand guns, a tall tale,obviously.
Not so, says Bryce's sister, Lila Dawson. "When he was a baby they let him teethe on Daddy's unloaded pistol. They propped him up with pillows there in the crib and let him go after it."
By the time of his retirement in 1958 Bryce had become so legendary among lawmen of the Southwest that a lot of apocryphal stories about him floated around, a surprising number of which turn out to be true. Two things about Bryce's childhood are certain: he was recognized early on as a prodigy with firearms and he was encouraged by those around him. In particular he was encouraged by a doting grandfather who furnished him with shotgun shells and Bryce himself once managed to save over a hundred dollars shining shoes which he then invested in ammunition. And in those days a hundred dollars would buy a barn-load of ammunition. In short, he practiced a lot, but there was more going on there than just practice. Bryce was born with an astonishing natural talent.
When Leah Rhymer met Bryce he was ten years old and owned a little .22 rifle he used for hunting rabbits and shooting tin cans. "And," she says, "he never missed."
Never? "No. Never. He was a perfect shot."
Bryce was the only kid that age she ever knew who had his own rifle and was allowed to use it unsupervised. He also had an air rifle he got a lot of mileage out of in town. He was seldom without one or the other. "He really just grew up down on the creek bank with a rifle in his hand," his niece, D.A. Dawson says.
In those days the army would hold something called a citizen's military camp and, after graduating from high school, Bryce attended one at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma along with several hundred other young men. While there he won first in pistol, first in rifle, and then went on to win the national rifle competition at Camp Perry in Ohio.
Out of high school, it was time to think about the future and gainful employment. More than anything in the world Bryce loved hunting and fishing so later that summer he became a state game ranger in Oklahoma. Apparently he grew restless with that, though, because after only six months he resigned and embarked for the University of Oklahoma where he planned to enroll. While en route he caught wind of a pistol contest where they were offering a hundred dollars in gold as first prize. That got his attention fast.
The contest was in Shawnee, Oklahoma and was being held as part of the annual Oklahoma Sheriff's and Peace Officers convention. Bryce drove down, found the firing range, got out of his car and approached Clarence Hurt, then the Night Chief of Police and a member of the Oklahoma City pistol team.
"This contest open to anybody?" Bryce asked.
"You think you can shoot, huh?" Hurt said, eyeing him skeptically.
"I think I can, yes," Bryce said. Hurt thought the whole thing kind of flaky, this Joe College in white slacks and a sweater approaching him out of the blue and besides that he was shooting an old smooth-bore .38 that was practically an antique. But the Oklahoma City pistol team didn't have much chance of winning that day and Hurt, their best shot, badly wanted his team to win. And who knew? Maybe this kid would be a decent shot.
Hurt led him behind a nearby hill to see what he could do.
"What do you want me to shoot?"
Hurt took out an old envelope and stuck it in the cleft of a tree trunk and walked off the regulation distance. "Shoot that."
"Can I draw and shoot? I'm better if I draw first than just stand still."
"Up to you."
Bryce drew and put six fast shots into an area the size of a silver dollar.
Clarence Hurt, for once in his life almost speechless, could only say, "You are now a member of the Oklahoma City Police Department."
Bryce won the hundred dollars in gold that day and the pistol team won, too, largely because of his shooting. More importantly he won a new career.
OKLAHOMA CITY POLICEMAN
The strangest part of the story, though, was what happened his first couple of days on the job. Bryce told it often in later years and Bob Oswalt, retired FBI, heard it more than once. After reporting for work in Oklahoma City, Bryce, in plain clothes, was leaving a restaurant in downtown Oklahoma City at high noon. Once out on the sidewalk he saw a man sitting in a nearby car that looked suspiciously like a face he had seen on wanted posters in the Oklahoma City area. What's more the man was behaving in a suspicious manner, peering around, acting nervous.
Bryce walked over to the car, around to the driver's door, and opened it. The man inside looked up, startled. He had some tools and it looked like he was in the process of trying to start the car without a key.
"What are you doing?" Bryce asked.
"Who are you?" the man snarled.
"A police officer."
Without another word the man drew a pistol from under his coat and tried to aim it at Bryce. Before he could fire Bryce drew and killed him. The man slid out of the car onto the cement, dead.