With Guns A' Blazin'
The .45 Calibre Sport of Cowboy Mounted Shooting
By Terri Mason
Are you sick of penning? Cutting out of cutting? Looking for something new, exciting and fun for the whole family? Love guns and horses? Well, have I got a sport for you. Cowboy mounted action shooting - the fastest growing sport in the U.S. is making its debut in Western Canada and they're mounted and ready to fire into an arena near you.
Jim MacIntyre, the founder of the Canadian Cowboy Mounted Shooters, (CCMS) is no stranger to the sport. In fact, he is the reigning 2006 Cowboy Mounted Action Shooters Level One World Champion, a title he shot out of the hands of some 38 competitors in Las Vegas. MacIntyre, who winters down south and returns to his home by Longview, Alta. in the summer, recently formed the CCMS after the enthusiastic response he and other fine shooters received from the select exhibitions they staged in Alberta last summer.
Mounted shooting is just what the name implies: the shooter, mounted on a trained shooting horse, draws, aims and fires at balloons with blanks (black powder blank cartridges) from .45 calibre pistols while reining their horse through a pattern - like barrel racing with balloons in between the barrels. The rider is scored on accuracy and time. Speed is important, but with a five-second penalty for each missed balloon or for dropping a gun, a 10-second penalty for not running the course correctly and a 60-second penalty for falling off your horse (officially called an 'unintentional dismount'), accuracy is more important than speed. When a typical pattern can be run in 15-35 seconds, penalties can quickly shoot you out of the saddle.
Like notches on a gun, there are levels of skill and each has to be earned. There is a separate division for Men, Women and Seniors, with Classes 1-5 in each of those divisions. For the kids there is an Outlaw's Class for those 11 and under. Outlaws are NON-shooting competitors who ride (or are led by a parent) through the same pattern as the adults. They are restricted to toy cap pistols, aiming at each target as if they were shooting real revolvers.
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