Some say the spirit of the West is dying, but don’t tell that to these straight-shootin' old buckaroos.
The California Range Riders Mounted Shooters Club, members of the national Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, are looking to rope in spectators for a rootin'-tootin' time at a free shooting competition August 24 and 25 at Hoffman’s Arena in Turlock. Competition will start at 10 a.m. both days, with the cowboys planning a BBQ chicken dinner following the completion of the competition Saturday evening.
Mounted shooting is an equestrian sport in which shooters wearing two single-action .45 caliber Colt Peacemaker-style revolvers race against the clock through an obstacle course, firing at target balloons from horseback. The sport requires the ability to control the horse through many turns and speed changes while clocking and firing the revolvers, holstering one when it’s empty and then drawing the other to complete the course of fire.
No bullets are used, only blanks which can pop balloons from 10-15 feet away. Safety is of the utmost importance and no live ammo is allowed in the guns or gun belts.
Cowboys in the competition typically create an alias or persona to fit the Old West, with characters like Bill Hickok, Hopalong Cassidy, The Duke, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, a Civil War soldier and many, many others.
Hoffman’s Arena owner, operator and shooting competitor Gerry Hoffman explained that the fastest cowboys and horses take home bragging rights and class points. Missing a target earns the cowboy a five-second penalty.
1800s cowboy apparel is, of course, mandatory for all shooters.
“It’s a blast, the women and everybody dress up and it’s quite a sight to see. Feel free to come down. There will be 30 to 40 participants. Bring the kids, dogs are welcome and there’s lots of shade here,” said Hoffman.
Tickets are free, however the cost for the chicken BBQ is $8 per person and RSVP is requested to Holland at (408) 710-1616.
Hoffman's Arena is located at 11342 Merced Ave., Turlock.