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Once, twice, three: shoot!

Boy draws toy gun
Click for bigger picture
Not quite what we mean by "shoot," kid.
I can't think of any reason why it wasn't "one two three shoot." It probably wasn't "once twice thrice shoot" because anyone who would have said thrice would have gotten smacked upside the head. Anyway, "once twice three shoot" it was.

Shooters would have their hands in a closed fist position and on cue stick out one or two fingers (index finger, or index finger and middle finger). Pointed fingers from both players were added up to a total of 2, 3 or 4 determining if the shoot was odd or even. A one round shoot might be used for minor stuff (like which team batted first), but for the important issue of first pick, you had to win three out of five. You'd try to get into a rhythm, so that each round would take a second or less. The better you knew each other, the quicker you'd get. We'd just say once twice three shoot for the first round, then it was "shoot, shoot, shoot"

It didn't matter how you held you hand, knuckles up, down, or to the side. The key was not to show what you were about to shoot. This was a rudimentary battle of wits where you'd try to psych out the other player, hoping he'd expect a particular digit, so you'd throw out the alternate. Choosing was kind of fun and a "choosing up competition" might even be suggested as a minor indoor activity, or a way to pass some time while hanging out on a stoop.

Some places allowed the use of 0 to 5 fingers since when you added them up - it still comes down to an odd or even number (if both players put out 0, it didn't count).

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