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Aiming for fun

Cowboys and cowgirls get decked out for shooting contest

Posted: July 25, 2009 9:24 p.m.
Updated: July 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Daniel Nighteyes, also known as Glenn Rowe, fires his .45 caliber lever-action rifle.

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Bullets clanked against metal and ammunition shells flew everywhere. Cowboys and cowgirls scurried from one Western facade to another in attempt to hit their next targets without wasting any time.

Thirty men and women transformed into Western characters on Saturday morning, armed with their cowboy hats, pistols, rifles and shotguns.

It's called Cowboy Action Shooting, and while one local range is tucked away behind Lake Piru, the shooting sport is no secret to many.

"The sport is huge with over 20,000 members worldwide," said Newhall resident Joe Alesia, president of The Deadwood Boys.

The group hosts two monthly shooting contests at Wes Thompson's Rifle Range in Piru every first Saturday and second Sunday of the month.

The Deadwood Boys is a Western 3 Gun-affiliated shooting club, according to the its Web site. Western 3 Gun is a shooting sport combining the action and flair of the old west gunfighter with the speed and gun-handling skills of the modern-day shooter, the Web site says.

"It's a fantasy sport where we shoot guns of the old west, pre-19th century," said Alesia. "It's a competition with a scoring system, but most people are in it for the romantic aspect of it."

The fun of it doesn't stop with the guns. The shooters revel in their characters, many dressed like famed individuals of history or fantasy.

To top it off, "Everybody has a cowboy alias," said Alesia, who is known as Lefty Longridge on the field.

As for the dynamics of the sport itself, Lefty said it's all about time verses misses. Each player took their turn at every stage - a total of eight stages. Individual shooters are timed at each course and seconds are added as penalty for any misses or shooting out of order. Hitting anywhere on the metal target is considered a hit.

Some stages require movement from one Western front to the other; others demand the shooter stay stationary. Ninety-nine percent of the time, shooters have to use all three guns - pistol, rifle and shotgun, Lefty said.

"A good time for these stages is 20 (seconds) or below," Lefty said. "I try to break 18 seconds every time."

According to Glenn Rowe, from Moorpark, success depends on speed mixed with accuracy, but it's not that simple for everyone.
"Some of us are faster than greased lightning, and some of us can't even spell greased lightning," said Rowe, also known as Daniel Nighteyes.

Nighteyes said he is not a great shooter, but he loves the sport.

Nighteyes is a half-blooded Choctaw Indian who named himself after a character who served with the second Cherokee artillery in the Civil War. Around his neck he wore a spirit eagle charm and medallion.

Lefty began Cowboy action shooting 12 years ago. He was lured in "by being able to use the guns of your old West heroes. The heroes I grew up watching Saturday mornings in my pajamas."

Lefty, who is also a certified firearms instructor, was the 2000 world champion of End of Trail, the world championships of cowboy action shooting staged by the Single Action Shooting Society.

Not all shooters have been involved in the sport for decades. Raven Moon, or Janice Barnett of Woodland Hills, discovered the sport no more than a year ago and was immediately hooked.

"It's a challenge. It's the adrenaline rush of the patterns and having to do it fast," said Raven Moon, 47.

After less than a year, Raven Moon feels she is improving significantly. Her times were averaging around 26 or 27 seconds on Saturday, which she felt good about.

"Everybody helps you improve. There are great teachers here," she said.

Although the sport draws many from a generation that grew up watching Westerns on TV, Lefty said all ages get involved.

"It's a very good level entry sport for adults and kids. It's controlled shooting; the guns are simple not like automatic pistols," Lefty said. "It's a family oriented sport."

Anyone is welcome to watch the competitions. Lefty said the club will supply the guns and ammo for anyone who wants to give it a try.

For directions to the shooting range visit


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