Magic and Life

Of Risking & Tricking

Happy August everybody! I hope that this month brings all of you a fresh flood of wonder and excitement, as much as you can take in. So, for the last few months while I have been traveling around the country. I have been getting a surprising amount of requests to do the bullet catch trick. I had however just recently, performed a compound bow and arrow catch, for an archery convention. Does that count?

If you are wondering what the bullet catch is, let me enlighten you. The most basic performance of this illusion is where a firearm’s specialist handles, loads, and fires a gun or rifle at the magician. The bullet itself is identified and marked by an audience member before hand, shown to the audience, and is immediately placed in the gun by the specialist. At no point is the gun or the bullet close to the magician during the marking, loading, and firing process. The specialist then aims and fires the gun on the magicians orders. The magician catches the marked bullet, mid air, in some dramatic fashion. To then finally present it to the audience, proving that the effect was real.

The earliest known performance of this illusion was presented by the French magician Coullew of Lorraine in 1531. Thirty two years later, sadly, one of his assistants in a fit of rage, clubbed him to death with the butt of his own gun that he used in the performance of the bullet catch.

Through the centuries, this illusion has made a great many evolutions in method and presentation. The way the gun was fired, who fired it, the kind of gun used, the manner in which the magician caught the bullet. Sometimes the bullet was caught on the tip of a sword. Other times in a silk handkerchief or even in a glass bottle. Of course catching a bullet in one’s hand or teeth, is what most people aware of the trick, identify it with. Mostly in modern times today, on account of being spotlighted in movies and TV specials. The illusion has even gone as far as incorporating a machine gun being fired at the magician.

This illusion by far is one of the most dangerous performances that any magician would dare undertake. Not only have there been numerous reports and accidents following this stunt throughout the centuries. Most magicians, even to this day, believe this illusion carries with it a death curse. That to even incorporate this illusion into a magician’s act, is a recipe for a timely demise. The most famous and tragic incidence during the performance of this illusion, was in the year 1918. The world renown magician Chung Ling Soo, was shot dead during his “Condemned to death, by the boxers” trick. It happened at the Wood Green Empire, in the northern district of London, on account of the musket being used, malfunctioning. He was shot square in the chest and died shortly after the curtain fell in front of a live audience. Even the great death defying escape artist, Harry Houdini, refused to perform this illusion because of the dire risk involved.

Though despite the obvious danger, the illusion is still being performed to this day.

It’s only an illusion folks… Or is it?

-Seth

“Risking everything for your dreams, is a noble endeavor. Blindly leaping towards those same dreams in ignorance, is foolish.”

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