The date is October 11, 1880. The location is the Oriental Saloon in Tombstone, Arizona. As usual, gambler Doc Holliday is playing poker and deep in the bottle. After Holliday and a John Tyler exchange harsh words over the turn of the cards, Holliday asks for his pistol, which was stored behind the bar. Saloon owner, Milt Joyce refused to hand over the pistol, and instead threw Holliday out of the Oriental.
Just about the time everyone had returned to their gambling, Doc Holliday returned with pistol in hand. Walking right up to saloon owner Joyce, Holliday fired his pistol and hit Joyce in the hand. Holliday then hit William Parker, Joyce’s partner in the foot.
Finally, Milt Joyce grabbed his pistol, and taking a quick lesson from the ineffective Holliday, decided to use it to club Holliday on the head, sending him immediately to the floor.
After the fight was over Holliday’s face looked so bad that it was though he wouldn’t recover. But he did. He was tried for attempted murder. Because no one appeared as a witness against him, the charges were reduced to assault, and he was fined $20.
Even though as a gambler Doc Holliday displayed less than stellar marksmanship in this event, his reputation grew.
Supposedly Holliday killed dozens of people during his lifetime. In reality he killed one, maybe two men. Many historians today agree that the stories of Holliday’s skill with a pistol are just that, stories. They were stories spread by Holliday to extract fear in his adversaries.
Incidentally, about a month later Holliday entered a shooting contest that took place in Tombstone. There were 12 participants. And Holliday ended up in last place.