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calendar   Thursday - January 14, 2010

New Champion of a new sport

To Ride, Shoot Straight, And Speak The Truth




Most BMEWS readers will recognize the above as the title of Col. Jeff Cooper’s book. Half of you probably own a copy. It’s a book about being a sheepdog not a sheep. It’s a book about learning to use your guns and become a “shottist”. It’s a book about situational awareness. And so many other things. I’m borrowing the title because it boils down almost the entire cowboy ethos into 8 short words. Words which show that being called a “cowboy”, or referencing “cowboy diplomacy” is a great compliment, not the insult various euro-wienies think it is.

There is a sport played with guns called Cowboy Action Shooting. That’s right. A sport. Played. With guns. And bullets!! Actually, it’s a whole series of competitive events, dreamed up by, and organized by, the Single Action Shooting Society. You have to wear cowboy style clothing, use cowboy style firearms, go by a cowboy alias, and you compete in several kinds of cowboy styled shooting, like fast draw, long range buffalo hunting (using a steel buffalo), defending the stagecoach, or robbing the bank. Great fun is had by all.

I don’t do this sport. I’ve got nothing against the costume aspect, or the firearms used. I’m a little let down by their use of extremely low powered ammunition, or even blanks for some events, but safety has to be paramount. And before today, I was only aware of one “mounted” competition, in which the folks fired off shotguns while atop a barrel “horse” up on blocks. That just didn’t sit right with me. How the heck can you be a cowboy, even a modern weekends-only just for fun kind, without an actual honest-to-God horse?

Turns out I was under-informed. There is a competition that requires horses. It’s called Mounted Shooting. It’s a cross between barrel racing and target shooting. Ride your horse around a course and shoot 10 balloons as fast as you can, with a single action six-gun in each hand. The pistols are loaded with black powder blanks, but the blast from each shot is enough to burst a balloon from 10 to 20 feet away. Sounds like great fun, and it’s probably a big hit at rodeos too! (What do I know from rodeos? I live in New Jersey. Around here the only thing ever called a rodeo is a big flea market or used car sale.)

The sport is cut up into gender, age, and skill divisions, but they have an overall championship at the end of the season. And the overall champion for 2009 ... is Kenda Lenseigne from Ellensburg, Washington.

image

Kenda Lenseigne and her horse Justin. Photo by Brian Anthony

One perfect run.

That’s all that separates Kenda Lenseigne from something extraordinary: a world championship.

She waits to enter the arena and can almost hear the tension crackling in the air.

The crowd holds its breath, waiting for her.

It’s October and this cowgirl from Sultan is one run away from beating last year’s reigning world champion in mounted shooting.

Shooting from a horse has been around since the invention of guns.

This particular cowboy skill didn’t become a sport until 15 years ago. That’s when a few modern-day cowpokes found a safe way to combine horseback riding and shooting.

It would come to be known as Cowboy Mounted Shooting and it looks like this: Competitors riding a horse on a timed course lined with 10 balloons, shooting the targets as they go. Two pistols, five shots each.

Jim Rodgers, a dedicated rider from Arizona and the father of the sport, thought up the idea of shooting blanks at balloons. That bit of inspiration made it safe for a cowboy to ride at top speed in an arena around a series of barrels, while rapidly unloading two .45 caliber single-action revolvers.

Rodgers and his friends started putting on competitions and demonstrations at rodeos. Pretty soon there were clips on cable television shows and feature stories in Western Horseman magazine.

The sport caught on quickly, says Brady Carr, one of those riders who discovered the sport in its early years.

He’s now the executive vice president of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, a national organization based in Tennessee that oversees and administers the sport. “Raw Horsepower, Hard Ridin’, Straight Shootin’” the association’s Web site boasts. In 2003, the association had 2,000 members. Today, membership is close to 10,000.

The sport is a natural companion to other popular Western events like roping and barrel racing, with a ready-made base of cowboys with the skills to give it a try.

“We laughingly call it ‘cowboy cocaine,’” Carr says. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”

Read the rest of Debra Smith’s well written piece at the Everett, Washington Herald right here, which also has a nice bird’s eye view animated graphic of the event, and then jump over to my pal Mo’s blog (he’s the guy who casts those enormous lead bullets for me) to see the video from the championship.

If you can’t be a 17th century pirate, you might as well be a cowboy. Or at least live by the Cowboy Way. And that’s as good as it gets. Congratulations Kenda!


image

a most excellent photo by Brian Anthony

PS - her guns are Cimarron Thunderers



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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/14/2010 at 04:37 PM   
Filed Under: • AdventureGuns and Gun ControlSports •  
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