Shooting like a "Cowboy"
There probably aren’t many men who didn’t at one time in their youth fantasize about being a cowboy in the Old West, possibly leading a band of regulators to clean up a town full of bandits and marauders.
It’s not too late. Across the country some men, and women, are experiencing a fountain of youth of sorts and reliving their youth one shot at a time.
Jeanne Vincze (aka Sure Shot Windy) is a founding member of the Prairieville Desperados, a group in Waukesha that is part of the national Cowboy Fast Draw Club.
“We’re one of five clubs in the state,” Vincze said. “Cowboy Fast Draw shooting is really inexpensive once you buy the gun, which is unlike other shooting sports.”
The guns used are .45 caliber Western style six-shooters, although in competition they never load more than five shells into the revolvers for safety reasons. Instead of regular bullets, the shooters use no more than six grains of black powder, a shotgun primer, and a wax bullet.
“That is one of the reasons the sport is so cheap,” she said. “We figure we spend about five cents per shot. We reload but you don’t even need any special equipment. We do it by hand after each shoot and it really doesn’t take that long.”
Instead of lining up at “high noon” to face another gunslinger, these cowboys and girls stand at 15, 18, or 21 feet away from a 24-inch round disk that is 50-inches high. A light goes off and the shooter “draws” and fires. Front sights are optional.
“A person might start out at a time of about 1.8 seconds for one shot,” Vincze said. “It just takes practice. Speed is important, but if you are super fast and miss the target a person can beat you if they take two seconds. My husband Frank is usually somewhere between .5 and .8 seconds.”
Guns are to be stock, single action .45 caliber revolvers with a minimum barrel length of 4.5-inches. No aluminum barrels or cylinders or external alterations are allowed.
“It’s a pretty simple sport,” she said. “And it is really great for families, too. We practice every couple weeks and for club members we only charge $5 per outing just to help cover costs.”
The club practices out at Wern Valley and Vincze said the accommodations make it comfortable regardless of the weather.
“We shoot indoors in a well-ventilated area,” she said. “Because of the loads we use, the guns are even quieter than a .22, so there isn’t the intimidating loud blasts that go off from stiffer loads. Also, there is no kick when you shoot, unlike with other guns with traditional loads.”
The club does not charge anyone to come out and give it a try and you don’t even need any equipment. Kids must be at least 10 years old to shoot, but can come out with mom and dad and watch for free, too.
“We just want to introduce people to this extremely fast growing sport,” she said. “Shooting sports in general are growing, but this is exploding. It’s just a fun time. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female and age doesn’t matter much either. We have man right now in our club who is 84 years old.”
There isn’t much money to be had at the competition; it’s mostly meant to be a fun time. And heck, you get to make up your own alias – like Quick Draw Tommy, or Wild Bill, or something “cowboyish” like that.