Monday, October 6, 2014
FASTEST GUN ALIVE...A Showcase of “True Grit.”
Since most of our minds reside in 1880's, it was exciting to step back to a bygone era and fight it out for the honor to be called the best gunfighter in the world. As a rookie to cowboy fast draw the entire event at times appeared to be much like the Buffalo Bill Wild(er) West Show.
More often than not your final standing was determined by a “single shot/hit.” If the fastest, you won! The crowds would then cheer as the announcer stated your alias and home state. You stood there trying to look like it did not make a difference but you were cheering wildly inside. If not yours, you walk off with true cowboy pride. No one was there without extreme courage and commitment. For over 85% of the shooters all you win is a “X.” To take home a prize from this event is the exception. Those who won definitely did so by overwhelming skill and very little luck. All of the 200 plus shooters wanted to earn the Top Shooter belt buckle and it showed.
Stud expressed to me, in his funniest cowboy manner, how strange it was to shoot against an octogenarian who said he had a pacemaker and only one good eye. They blasted away and once again that last shot got Stud an “X” on his score sheet. Later in the day, this winning elder statesman took a nap and ended up with an “X” for missing a follow-on match. True grit is really just that. Every cowboy with a sidearm and name tag came to play.
My final “X”, during the main match, came from Hell on Wheels. This cowboy was not limited at all by his wheelchair. He could drive nails in with each shot. Those nails were putting the finishing touches on my coffin. My age related ailments seemed minor when compared to this cowboy's true grit to get here and then win. Just before shooting me out of the match, Hell on Wheels had won the Quick and the Dead match defeating three dozen standing cowboys capable of all types of body English. Hell on Wheels will always be a role model for me.
I watched in amazement as the "youth-boys" shot on our range between one of our matches. The young-ins was shooting in the .4s and .5s with some in the .3s. While other members their age sit around playing video games and tweeting these youngsters were learning the cowboy way of life. In this old cowboy’s opinion, in the end they will be much better off. One family had three generations of shooters in the contest.
In my case, I was given the opportunity to compete against the top shooters we see all the time named in the Gunslinger's Gazette. It was ugly at times but I did manage to win a match each day keeping me alive for another round. I am proud to say: “I am the 132nd Fastest Gun Alive!”
Noah Chance asked me at the Awards Reception if I had a “fun time.” His cowboy friendly attitude is directly responsible for getting me into the sport. I paused on my answer since I was exhausted and already pre-occupied on how to get back to the 21th century. But then it hit me. I did have “fun” sharing in others’ successes.
Thirsty got an award as a top five shooter in the Shootist category. He had just taken up shooting a long gun and was glowing with pride. Miss Kitty was given a Top Hand Award for all her volunteer efforts with the AZ chapter. This year only 46 people were recognized with this national award. She too had that look of inner pride that comes from a job well done.
Rodeo Romeo and Dry Gulcher ran the charity auction raising thousands of dollars for the Shoot for the Stars Scholarship Program. Here were two AZ cowboy brothers doing their part for the association in outstanding style. I saw Yowee, late Saturday afternoon, running across an open field (clutching her six gun and holster to her hip) with the latest line up for the Resurrection Finals. Then all of a sudden off she goes at a full gallop back to the scorekeeper’s booth. Yowee was definitely showing her “grit” to keep everything running smoothly. She is always a great source for assistance to our members.
All of the AZ Gunslingers and Rio Salado Vaqueros took a very active part in the event and made me proud to be a member of both groups. Shady Mike, Thirsty, AZ Thumber and Muletrain definitely provided me with the encouragement and the training I needed to compete. Except for that single shot, in three matches, I almost won a buckle. I actually pushed several of the fastest in the world to a 2-2 tie.
To my extended cowboy family “Thank you!” Your support is greatly appreciated by this super senior cowboy who simply wants to be a gunfighter and not feel like life is passing him by. Without friends like you all, I would be lost in an era ran by computers and not cowboy ethics.
Just remember, often times being a gunslinger has less to do with the gun and more to do with your grit to get things done in the cowboy way. So put those reins in your mouth and practice, practice, practice for next year. Remember the Duke! His way should be your way! So Charge!