Riding and Shooting Flat Out - Just Like Gene and Roy
Story by Jim Eigner, Photos by Clara Eigner
What the heck is cowboy mounted shooting? Well, if you have
a passion for horses and love to compete, then cowboy mounted shooting might
be fore you. I was making one of my frequent trips to the vet’s office
and while I was waiting I picked up a copy of “Shoot” magazine
that was lying there. On the cover was a picture of a guy on a horse, riding
flat out, shooting at a balloon target. He was dressed in 1890’s clothing
and brought to mind memories of Roy and Gene riding hard and shooting at the
bad guys. Reading the article, I found that the guy on the cover is a member
of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (CMSA) and he is involved in one
of the fastest growing equine sports in the country.
Cowboy mounted shooting is a combination of reining, barrel racing, and horsemanship, while shooting at balloon targets. The rider carries two .45 caliber revolvers loaded with blanks designed to burst a balloon. While controlling his horse’s direction and speed, he must shoot 10 balloon targets set in one of many different patterns. Each gun is loaded with 5 rounds. After shooting the first 5 balloons, he holsters one gun, draws the second and goes after the last 5 balloons. All of this is done non-stop and as fast as the rider can manage. Riders are scored on time and accuracy. You get seconds added to your time for things like missing a balloon, dropping your gun, running the course incorrectly and/or falling off your horse. I’ve been riding most of my life and shooting just about as long. But, even as a mounted police officer, I’ve never shot off of a horse. I think this could be fun and quite a challenge.
In cowboy mounted shooting there are three divisions: men, women and senior with levels 1 through 5 in each division. You start out in level 1 and move up by accruing points in CMSA shooting events. These events are organized by CMSA clubs all over the United States. There are 3 CMSA clubs near San Antonio, “Los Pistoleros” from Austin, “Brazos Valley Shooters” out of Brenham, and the “Gulf Coast Shooters” from Tomball. I recently attended a mounted shooting event at the Alamo Village in Brackettville. This event involved all three of these clubs and was a three-day affair. My wife Clara and my son Travis were with me. She does the photography and he wanders around socializing. Everyone we spoke with was real friendly and very willing to talk about getting started in mounted shooting. We say some really nice tack and guns and some great costumes. The 1890s style clothing is required, as is an alias.
We saw “Buffalo Bill”, Gary Trichter of Bandera,
and “William Barrett Travis,” Bill Williams of Conroe. There were
also some rugged looking 1890s cowboys riding and shooting. There were a lot
of women competing. There were dressed in period clothing, including long
skirts, like Mickey Owens from Austin, and split riding skirts, such as worn
by DeeDee Trichter from Bandera. They were all wearing some really nice gun
leather and guns and doing some excellent riding and shooting.
During a break in the shooting, there was a horse race down the main street of
Alamo Village. Two of the horses were neck and neck down to the finish line with a crowd of cowboys and cowgirls cheering them on. It was exciting and fun and not something you get to see very often. If you’re a horse person, and you probably are if you’re reading The Horse Gazette, a mounted shooting event is a pretty good way to spend a day or a weekend. You get to spend your time riding and shooting, making new friends, and talking horses, tack and guns. I’ve decided that this is something that I would like to try. All I’ve got to do is train a horse, buy guns and western clothing and learn how to shoot balloons while riding as fast as I can. That should keep me busy for a while. Actually, I’m getting ready to retire from the San Antonio Police force and I’ve been looking for something to do that is fun and challenging
and can involve my family. Cowboy mounted shooting might be
I have a 3-year-old gelding being trained right now and if I can get him to accept the shooting, he might work out. I’ve got a 60-year-old saddle being reconditioned and repaired by Bunkhouse Leather in Bandera and it should look pretty good with the period outfits. I’ve been to Texas Jack’s Wild West Outfitters in Fredericksburg, looking at all the period clothing, guns and leather. He was just about everything you need to get equipped for mounted shooting. I’m going to give this sport a try, and perhaps at a later date, Marilyn will let me tell you about my adventures, or misadventures in mounted shooting. Ride hard and shoot straight!
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