Originally published in The Weekly Packet, December 20, 2012
Cowboy fast draw brings Old West feel to shooting range
Shooters set their mark at the Cowboy Fast Draw Social at the Blue Hill Rifle and Pistol Club on December 15, while the next contestants stand ready to toe the line.
by Anne Berleant
Step into the Blue Hill Rifle and Pistol Club on Range Road on the right day and you could be drawing a pistol against the likes of Dangerous Dan, Magnum Red, Wood Butcher, Miss Kitty or Warlock.
Every third Saturday the shooting club hosts a “Cowboy Fast Draw,” where shooters square off at the firing line with .45 caliber single action pistols.
“It becomes addictive,” said one cowboy, who goes by the name Gold Dust Kid and has been a regular for three years.
Mary Ann Sheets, aka Daisy A’Dare, took over as organizer of the event last February; she said it’s been growing ever since.
“We’re getting a steady 12-plus people,” she said.
On December 15, at a Cowboy Fast Draw Social at the club, around 30 cowboys—and cowgirls—set their hats straight, toed their boots to the line and squared off in period Old West style.
Dressing the part is a piece of the fun, just like using an alias.
Narrowing in on the years 1850 to 1899, the fast draw shooters saunter the range in brocade vests, cowboy boots and hats, and neckerchiefs, with sheriff-style stars pinned to their chests.
“It doesn’t have to be authentic but it helps if it looks it,” the club advises in its promotional material.
For most, all that means is finding the right hat and boots, donning a pair of jeans and hunting a thrift shop or two to complete their costume.
Using wax bullets with a shot primer, four shooters toe the line 15 feet in front of 24-inch steel disk targets.
Championship competition calls for a target 21 feet from the mark, said Sheets, but the club keeps to “an attainable distance.”
“Shooters on the line. Shooters set.”
The two left shooters draw first. Shots are fired and the target hit first lights up. Times are electronically recorded and then read out loud.
“Shooters can unload.”
“It’s not how strong you are, how tall you are or how small you are. You’re just trying to beat your time,” said Miss Kitty.
Magnum Red has been coming to the club for six years but just started the fast draw a few months ago, she said.
“Well, I’m only at a second and a half,” she said of her fast draw speed. “But at least I hit the target now.”
Fast draw members come in all ages, from 10 years old to senior citizens.
“They may be old but don’t underestimate them,” said Warlock of the older shooters. “They’ve been doing it for a long time.”
Eleven-year-old Tucker Harrington attended the fast draw for the first time with his father Leon, who was searching for “something to do with my son.”
“It was awesome,” said Tucker.
Along with the shooting comes some tall tales and lunch.
“I shot a .392 [seconds] once, but I probably cheated,” one cowboy recalls.
The fastest shot of the day so far—a .488 by Warlock—draws a round of applause.
What keeps people coming back each week, cowboy hat in hand?
“It’s everything,” said Little Jim, “but it’s mostly the people.”