Monday, January 29, 2018


Rodeo Romeo has made some personal and hurtful comments to me.  I did not mean to start an argument or say anything offensive to him, but if I did I apologize.  He asks for an explanation and so here it is.

To be a competitive gunfighter you must have a finalized draw. By that I mean you draw to the same anchor point and fire each and every time.  Each draw is identical to each other draw. Perfection is when every bullet hits the same hole in the exact identical time.  By definition, if you have a finalized draw your quickest draw will be your most accurate shot because you are getting to the anchor point as quickly and as smoothly as possible.  Anything that causes you to change your draw will cause you to have to re-finalize or re-learn your draw.

If you are constantly changing your draw to get that last millisecond of time, you have to relearn your draw with each change. Every change for whatever reason brings you back to the entry level of accuracy, from my observation less than 30%.  To constantly chase the clock impedes a gunslinger's development. Disregard for where you hit takes away the opportunity for your subconscious to learn accuracy.

Partime in Texas is a good study in the development of a gunslinger. When I first saw him he was just another pretty gun. He would come to titled matches and after four rounds go home.  Quick but hitting less than 30%. He even wrote a song about it. Then he came to the Springs and had a session with Marshall Cooper. Within six months he was the best gun in Texas.  What happened?  He finalized his draw. He began to hit the target and see every hit.  He no longer was practicing missing.  If you see every hit your mind and body will walk the hits to the light.  Some will say he learned to be fast then he learned to be accurate.  No, that is not what happened.  When he was "learning to go fast," he just was not paying attention.  Hitting didn't matter. He was depriving his subconscious the opportunity to learn to be accurate.

DO NOT PRACTICE ACCURACY! You can not do it. Practice speed only. To think about accuracy or to try to be accurate causes you to miss.  "Any thought changes an expert into a novice."  The Sports Gene.  

What is needed is to give your subconscious the opportunity to learn those small incremental changes that walk the hits to the light.  If you think about hitting you will miss. If you try to be accurate you will miss. If you think about going fast, you will be slow. (For me, trying to go fast in competition causes me to be about 30 mls slow)

"I was lucky in the order, but then I have always been lucky when it comes to killing folks." William Munny

Now to get personal.  Saturday at Pioneer we shot an Arizona Bracket shoot.  The field was divided into three brackets by x count and time out. In A bracket there were 15 gunslingers, all good and tough gunfighters, not an easy draw in the bunch.  Of the 14 matches only three matches were decided by quickness, Old West was quicker than Shady, Holli Day put Old West out on quickness, and I put Ranger out on quickness.  Quickness is important, but not as important as mental toughness.  In the last seven matches only one match was decided on quickness. The rest were decided on something else and it ain't accuracy.

Those matches were decided on the mental processes of the gunslingers.  Based on time out 6 of the 7 were quicker than me.  What happened.  Well, the same thing that happened at Nationals when 5 black badges went down to Johnny Three Toes.  They thought about it.  In some form of another they all thought, "I got to hit the target!" or they tried to slow down because you are more accurate when you slow down (another myth).  When you think about hitting, you miss.

A couple of shooters Saturday were "slow shooting."   Slow shooting is the kiss of death to a gunslinger. Why?  Because you have to think when you are changing from fast to slow or from slow to fast.  Any thought changes an expert into a novice.

Getting back to the subject at hand. I have suffered through several bouts of grailfever before and I know it takes about 6 months for it to run it's course.  Even knowing that, come February 5, based mainly on comments by Levi, I will start a new stance and an new draw.  I will start off the clock.  Time does not matter. Only a finalized draw matters. It may be quicker or it may not be, but I will let my subconscious walk the hits to the light, there is no excuse for less than 80%.

"I warned em!"  Virgil Cole

Friday, January 26, 2018

Lessons of Geography

I awoke this morning composing this post as a response to the swagger of loverboy, but upon further consideration decided that he deserves to strut a bit as long as he doesn't trip on his spurs.  The vehicle was going to be a geography lesson, but then decided that the vehicle itself had merit since there may be some traveling here for Winter Range.

The main trail in and out of Phoenix is I-17.  From the intersection of the main trail with Wickeburg/Carefree road, about 1/2 mile west is the venue for Winter Range.  About a thousand shooters and their camp followers will be at Winter Range February 18 to 25.  The Association of Arizona Gunslinger will have a 6 lane range up and running Feb 19 through 24, with a Arizona Bracket Shoot on the 24th. CFDA shooters can shoot all week warming up for Saturday, but it may not do you much good, as the competition is pretty salty at the Showdown at Winter Range.

If you head east down the Wickenbugr/Carefree Road, just about 1/2 mile past Central Avenue (divides Phoenix east and west) you will come to the road (7th Street) that goes from Shady Mountain  north around Daisy Mountain back to the main trail (I-17).  If you turn south about 1/2 mile you will come to Shady Mountain, the home range of many World and National Champions.  Those champions gather about weekly, mostly for social shooting, gunsmithing, and general foolishness.  Shooting there is by invitation, but Shady is pretty free with the invitations, his only limit being the space available for the crowd that wants to come.

If, at the intersection of the Carefree road and the Daisy Mtn road, you turn north and go about a mile you come to loverboy flats.  When you will come to the girlie street (Dolores), turn east and go about 1/4 mile and you come to the Camp.  The Camp is open 24/7 to CFDA shooters and it is a world class 6 lane facility where speed is king.  The Camp has a jackpot shoot the first Saturday of the month and quarter matches the third Saturday of the month.  The Camp has a 8' by 32' greased wall so there is no practice missing at the camp.  If you practice at the Camp and shoot less that 80%, you are not paying attention.

From the intersection of the main trail and the Wickenburg/Carefree road, 1/2 mile to the north is Pioneer Village, Arizona Territory, the home range of The Association of Arizona Gunslingers.  They hold a Arizona Bracket shoot on the fourth Saturday of every month.  The saying is that "There is no lollygagging at Pioneer Village," but the very nature of the Arizona bracket shoot is to insure that the new shooter, the drifter, the youth and generally everyone feels welcome and competitive..

For those that want to shoot every Saturday, you can travel down the main roads through Phoenix out east beyond Red Mountain and shoot at the Rio Salado Range.  The Salty River Cowboys (officially the Rio Salado Vaqueros) hold a club shoot the second Saturday of every month. It is alway an excellent shoot with different formats.

The Loess Hills Paladins, Have Range, Will Travel, are building their portable range at Shady Mtn. The Paladins plan to break camp and head for the Loess Hills when the snow is out of the mountain passes. They will go through Flagstaff then pick up the Pueros River onto the Rio Grande River to Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Trail. They intend to stop at Manual Lisa's place before heading onto the home range of the River City Gunslingers.  I will give a photo report when the range is done, hope to set up at Pioneer Village, March 24.

Well, we will see how the swagger goes Saturday.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

If you think 2016 was bad, wait for 2018, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Got a look at the new holster rule, and if you thought 2016 was bad for gunfighters misbehaven, wait for 2018.  It is going be a springs fiasco all year long. (No fault of the host.)  Maybe we can some how divert the powers that be travel plans and the locals will get along just fine.

Any way, one of the funniest story I heard from the old timer yesterday was how when they used to shoot with the hand  6 inches from the gun the rule was enforced with a yardstick to measure the shooter hands during the draw.  One particularly wired competitor came completely unglued with a stick being poked at him during his draw.

Now it appears the Comish has got a new bud, it will be interesting to see how he nips it comes spring. All I got to say is that the Range Masters in the Valley of the Sun don't tolerate nonsense much. Warm the penalty box up. I am impressed with the wisdom of my board, we don't have any title events here in 2018, so we can travel and be amused elsewhere.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

So you want to be a gunfighter!

Recently I had to opportunity to share thoughts on this sport with a aspiring gunfighter by text message.  This topic being too voluminous for text I will share by blog.

Over the last two years I have competed in 30 to 40 events, club, State, Territorial, National, and World.  What I have observed is that the average CFDA shooter has gunfighter rating of between .80 to .95. If a shooter has a rating of 1.0 or above for an event he or she is in the top 25% of the CFDA.  Gunfighters that make it into the Magnificent 7 generally will be those with a gunfighter rating of 1.2 or better.  Normally there is only a handful shooting this well, maybe 5% of the shooters.

Gunfighter rating is a shooter's speed index, 1 minus his normal quickness, plus his accuracy index, his average shooting percentage.  For example  a shooter with a quickness of .35 will have a speed index of .65 and if he is shooting at 30% accuracy his gunfighter rating will be .95.

It really does not matter how you get above 1.0 and to 1.2.  A .6 shooter hitting at 80% for a rating of 1.2 is competitive with a .4 shooter hitting at 60% for a rating for 1.2.  Granted speed matters, but not as much of you think when you get to the real gunfight, the Magnificent Seven. That is why that .6 shooter was able to put down all those black badges at Nationals.  When you get to the real fight, where all the shooter are 1.2 shooters, then the deciding factor is mental toughness.

Speed is glamorous, but accuracy is deadly.  The .35 shooter hitting 30% may think he is good, but really he is just a little above average. Get to 1.0 and you will start to be in the top 25% of shoots.  Get to 1.2 and you will win most club shoots and make the Magnificent Seven of major shoots.

Those of us who compete against each other know the gunfighter rating of our opponents. We know who is the .5 shooter hitting 60% and who is a .4 shooter hitting only 40%.  This ain't hard to figure out and over the long haul the .5 shooter is going to do consistently better than the .4 shooter.  Now if that .4 shooter can move his accuracy to 50%, then he is at 1.1 same as the .5 shooter and they will probably split their matches throughout the year.

What is your gunfighter rating?  Where do you want to be for 2018?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

It all depends on how you count!

Last year about this time the board of The Association of Arizona Gunslingers, Inc., decided to have a club top gun award for 2017. The Trail Boss issued an edict that it would be a Best 8 after protestation from me that a total points would just be a participation award.  Powder Keg was going to do it but he moved away in April and no one else took up the task.  I have complied a spreadsheet for 2017 following the CFDA method of assigning 40 points to each club event and sorting using Best 8 but also listing total points and Best 6.  I have email the sheet to the board for their use and consideration.  Here are my thoughts which I share publicly for input from other members and other clubs.

Total Points:  As predicted Shady wins on total points with the top five being, Shady, Half Cock, Hitch/Ruah, WOW, and Gator, but it is a tight race with only 7 points separating the top 3, and 15 point the top five.  All five could win in it in December. However, fairness may be at issue in that two have 10 events, two have 9 events, and one only has 8 events.  Total Points rewards participation and an argument can be made that the Top Gun award should reward participation. However, Total Points effectively eliminates about 90% of the shooters from the competition.

Best 8:  For 2017, the Trail Boss said it would be Best 8 format. Under this format, the shooter with 8 events wins easily with a 28 point lead going into the final club match.  It is unlikely that any one can catch him.  The second place shooter only has 14 points in play so even if the leader does not shoot, he can not be caught.

You use a limited number of events to mitigate the effect of participation on the award.  The lesser the number of events, the less effect of participation has on the competition and more shooters are effectively in play.  CFDA uses 6.  There were only ten shooters that had more than 8 events, so in effect, the competition is really an award among about 15 shooters (including some 6 or 7 event shooters) out of a total of 78 shooters who scored points.

Best 6:  CFDA is Best 6 and this year it was a fight going down the last few matches at World. Old West won, a Shady Mtn shooter, but it was within a few points right down to the end. Our club competition would not have been that close.  Using Best 6 the same shooter is the leader with a 21 point lead with the second place shooter again only having 14 points in play so the leader can not be caught.  Best 6 does change the rest of the standing.  It also brings more shooters of the club into the competition.

A negative of Best 6 is that it rewards inconsistency.  For example, Rodeo Romeo places 7th in both Total Points and Best 8, but would move up to third in Best 6.  That is because he has some poor shoots and if they are counted he is lower in the standings.  

Average: One might think that average would be the fairest way to go.  It would let all compete, even the one event shooter.  Using average, the leaders are Powder Keg (3 events), Hitch/Ruah (8 events), Buckeroo Ben (2 events), and Two Feathers (1 event).  Rodeo Romeo moves down the 9th place.  If average is used I would think we would want some number of events to qualify, but that would add to the work in doing the calculating.  Non-qualifiers would have to be deleted before sorting.

Administrative Ease:  I assigned points using the CFDA format starting with 40 points for each match.  I did not eliminate mavericks or non-club members.  To eliminate those shooter would have increased the workload by at least double and would not have made a significant change in the standings.  It took me two hours to import data and about 1/2 hour to sort the results.

Personal Comment:  Using the Top Gun format for an award really is just a competition among about a dozen shooters and even among those it is fairly predictable who is going to win. There are really only a handful of Top Guns in the Valley and are we doing an award for ourselves, not necessarily for the membership because most are eliminated by the format.  Would the club be better served with a system such as the Gunfighter Rating system.  It would be more work, but might provide a wealth of information to our shooters.  Shooters could see how they are progressing throughout the year.

Comments:  I welcome comments, especially from other clubs on how you do it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Saga of the Ugly Cow

My dad died in the early 80s leaving a widow and a small cowherd. Mom not wanting to manage cows gave the herd to her three sons.  We had never been into back grounding but it sounded like a good venture to go along with the cows, so off I went to the sale barn to buy some 450# heifers to background.  I thought I had bought some young animals only to find out later they were just small framed.

The first mishap was that they broke into the barn which was used to store corn, two foundered and died.  The next mishap was I go into the cow barn and find this little bitty calf.  It was at that time I realized the stock was not young just small.  The only thing to do was to kick the mother and calf out into the lot with the cowherd. Thus started the saga of the ugly cow.

Our next venture was to get into the purebred Gelbveih business. We replaced our herd with purebred stock all except the ugly cow.  I don't think she ever weigh more than 800 pounds. For some reason she just hung around, being bred to Gelbvieh bulls and producing a calf every year. She was always referred to as "ugly cow" because she was quite frankly the ugliest cow on the place. 

Fifteen years and fifteen calves later, so she was crippled up so bad she could barely keep up with the herd.  So she was culled and send off to the sale barn.  We got $225 for her and she weighed about 750 pounds.  We had paid $240 for her as a heifer.  So there you have it, the saga of the ugly cow, the most profitable cow ever owned by Triple B, Inc.  Average capital cost of the mother cow per calf was $1.

The boys have moved back to the plains and they probably need a few head of cows from which to learn life lessons such as the more expensive the cow the more likely she is to calf in an ice storm, etc.  I think I will have to head to the sale barn looking for that group of small framed heifers.  Then we will pelvic measure them and breed the best of them to a longhorn bull, the rest go to the back ground lot.  It would really would work well if I could  find the small framed calves from some purebred Angus breeder.  Got to be a few "ugly cows" out there, may not be pretty but they sure do make money.

Life lessons come easily on the plains. I would tell the saga of the cutting horse, the barrel horse, the burning trailer floor, or maybe the tree dog but this is enough wisdom for one post.

Alleluia Ruah

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mentoring the Youth or the New Shooter

The competitive year for my two youth shooters is over. Dismal River Kid finishes the year as a 8 flat shooter. (.75 to .85 at 80%)  Lil' James finishes as a 9 flat shooter. (.85 to .95 at 90%)  Both have a gunfighter rating of 1.0, Dismal being .8 plus .2 for 1.0 and Lil' James .9 plus .1 for 1.0 without the mental toughness factor. 

A gunfighter rating of 1.0 or higher means you are in the top 25% of all CFDA shooters.  Both Lil' James and Dismal shot with the best in the Valley of the Sun and generally were competitive.  I have posted on some of the matches in previous posts. Thirsty loves to tell the story of challenging Dismal with Thirsty's holster on the line.  Dismal has ever since been shooting from Thirsty's shaniko holster.

When you are starting out a young shooter or a new shooter, give them a chance to be successful.  Shoot up close.  They learn nothing from missing.  If they shoot from 6 feet, they can see all of their shots.  The young mind is marvelous.  They learn so quickly to be accurate.  The larger the target the better.  If you have blockers shoot blockers or shoot 24 inches at 6 feet.  If you have neither, shoot cardboard.  The important thing is to see every hit.  Let the subconscious walk the hits to the target zone.  It will.  Finalize those draws.

This is fast draw, so always encourage them to shoot as fast as they can, but understand that they have to progress at their own pace.  They will want to go fast soon enough.  Sunday, Lil' James showed great maturity.  I offered to shoot with him and give him 400 mls handicap.  He adamantly refused.  He was winning shooting his draw at his speed and was not going to be baited into racing with me.

It has been a pleasure working with these young gentlemen.  I hope they keep shooting.