PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
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RAY BOSNICH, aka Badwater Boz, right, shoots a rifle during the Cowboy Action Shooting competition as other participants look on at the El Dorado Rod and Gun Club Friday April 12. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

News

Cowboy match features vintage guns, costumes

By From page A1 | April 17, 2013

It was shoot ’em up time Friday as a posse of cowboys and one cowgirl gathered at the El Dorado Rod and Gun Club for a Cowboy Match that featured plenty of fancy shooting and good-natured jibes.

All decked out in their favorite western duds, sporting holsters and guns replicated from the 1800s, and using aliases to protect the innocent, the posse went through six different scenarios testing their time and accuracy using pistols, rifles and shotguns.

Keeping everyone in line were the scorekeepers who carried around a fake stick of dynamite as a badge of honor.

Originating in Southern California in the early 1980s, cowboy matches have become an increasingly popular competitive sport and are often called Cowboy Action Shooting. One of many Websites for them is called californiagunslingers.com. Cowboy matches at the local gun club have been a regular bimonthly event for the past 10 years.

Friday’s event was called Hard Choices and consisted of six different scenarios. The first scenario began with a shooter calling out “You have a choice, ride out or be carried out.” Then the shooting began, with each posse member taking turns shooting in succession at different targets with different weapons, all of which was timed with misses counted.

Targets were metal figures in different shapes including vultures, howling coyotes, buffalos, and cowboys, along with a rotating series of discs.

Running the match was The Other Guy (aka Si Russell). Russell said in most Westerns there’s the hero, the bad man and the other guy. The guy who’s responsible for everything. So he’s known as The Other Guy.

His sidekick running the match was El Suave (aka Michael Eribes de Flores) so named because he’s such a smooth character. His wife Philadelphia Rose (aka Paulette) was also there to shoot and put everyone to shame in her smart black outfit embroidered with gold.

El Suave and Philadelphia Rose both stressed how safety conscious everyone is at the range even in the midst of all the fun.

“I can teach almost anybody anything but gun safety is always foremost,” El Suave said. “Si and I play good cop, bad cop. Si is the good cop and I’m the evil stepsister about safety,” saying he was formerly a deputy in Santa Clara County for a number of years before retiring and switching to a new career.

One of the fastest gunslingers in the group was Sackett (aka Ron Graf) of Sacramento who said he took his name from the novel series by Western writer Louis L’Amour. Sackett is a two-fisted shooter, using a pistol in each hand to take down targets. He is so good that in 2011 he came in second in the state championship in the gunfighter category and he has the belt buckle to prove it.

That may have been one reason why he was jeered by the rest of the posse as a show-off as he demonstrated how fast and accurate he is with a gun, any gun.

“As a boy, I was interested in guns,” said Sackett who started competing when his wife bought him a gun at the age of 40. Eventually he ended up in cowboy matches. “I enjoy the costumes and the friendliness of people. It’s more of a social gathering than a competition,” he said. “Mostly I compete against myself.”

Other colorful characters shooting on Friday were Grizzly Peak Jake (aka Tom Burch from Rescue), Bad Water Boz (aka retired Placerville police sergeant Ray Bosnich) and Mosquito Creek Mike (aka Mike Butterfield) both from Placerville.
To keep it authentic, members can only use certain weapons. “We shoot with originals or replicas of guns made before 1899, with Colts being a favorite,” said Grizzly Peak Jake.
Clothing is also as authentic as possible. Mosquito Creek Mike made the carved leather holster for his two replica 1873 Colts as well as his laced mukluks boots. “I heard about the group and watched the match. I like the fun, camaraderie. They are very friendly even when you screw up. It’s nice to see people working together with each other.”

Most members also make their own carts that haul their weapons, ammo, and other equipment from one staging area to the other. To add to the authenticity, the carts are designed to look like plows from the 1800s.

Matches are held two times a month, weather and schedule permitting, and usually last about three hours depending on the size of the posse. Usually they have a minimum of eight to 10 people each time with everyone having a job during the match.

The Other Guy and El Suave also hold classes two times a month to teach safety, how to shoot in the match, and how people are to conduct themselves on the range. People interested in participating can check the calendar of the El Dorado Rod and Gun Club for dates, times and how to contact The Other Guy for more information.

As the sun rose higher in the sky and they tired of shooting at varmints, the posse called it quits with one last rallying cry: “This is doing it my way!”

It was chow time for the gunslingers.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

Dawn Hodson

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