My daughter helped out a friend of hers when the local 4-H group could not get enough kids to participate in a horse-grooming contest. While at the fair, she saw an exhibition of Cowboy Mounted Shooting and came home raving about wanting to try it. As it turns out, one of her classmates is a competitor and is reportedly rather good at it. The sport combines barrel racing with shooting (blanks, only). I saw this feature and was reminded of all that.
NEW ORLEANS – His trusty six-shooters loaded, the cowboy gallops off, reins in one hand, pistol in the other. As his horse twists and slews, he shoots. Pow! Pow! Pow!Pow!Pow! Now it's a straight run: PowPowPowPowPow! Nine of the 10 balloons are dead, dead, really dead.
Part barrel-riding, part marksmanship, part costuming and several parts noise, it's cowboy mounted shooting — a sport that started with three guys at a Phoenix shooting range in 1992 and now has about 7,000 members in 42 states and Sweden.
The Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association's calendar lists 436 events from Florida to Alaska — at least 10 a month, with December off.
Louisiana's state championship is Saturday evening in Amite, about an hour's drive north of New Orleans. It's among nine events just this weekend and 57 this month.
Chuck Duncan, president of Louisiana Territory Guys, Gals & Guns and an assistant professor of kinesiology and education at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, expects 20 to 25 competitors. "We're still trying to establish the sport here," he said. Spectators get in free.
The sport is a spin-off from cowboy action shooting, in which costumed contestants run through full-size sets and shoot bullets at full-sized targets. Cowboy action shooting devotees not only span the United States, but include clubs in Canada, Australia and Europe, including Switzerland and Scandinavia.
The official Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association website (motto: Raw Horsepower – Hard Ridin' – Straight Shootin') has primers on how to get started in the sport. Only approved firearms can be used (single action .45 caliber guns of specific make and model) and there is a rather strict dress code. The blank cartridges must be from an approved vendor and are loaded and unloaded by an official at the competitions.