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Western Themed matches a hit at Buccaneer Gun Club

Western Themed matches a hit at Buccaneer Gun Club

Jeff Holland, aka Jefro, shooting at a Cowboy Action match.

By Mike Marsh, Star News Correspondent

Shooters decked in western garb watched as Greg Holloman, aka High Noon Henry, stared down enemies at Buccaneer Gun Club’s Cripple B Corral. Rather than the tick of a tower clock telling him to draw, the beep of an electronic timer spurred him to action. Drawing a single-action pistol, he fired five shots. Holstering the empty gun, he drew a second pistol, firing five more. Instead of his nemeses falling down moaning, “You got me!” they stood solid, ringing like bells because they were steel.

When his pistols were empty, he grabbed a pump-action shotgun and fired at two coffin-shaped knock down targets, reloaded and knocked down two more. Dropping the scattergun, he picked up a lever action rifle to fire ten shots at more steel targets, completely Stage 1 a Cowboy Action match sanctioned by the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS).

At the unloading table, a fellow competitor double-checked his firearms for safety. His score was not as high as he hoped because of a miss.

“Your score is the number of seconds it takes to hit all targets,” said Holloman, a paramedic from Burgaw. “Each miss adds five seconds and 10 seconds are added for shooting a target out of sequence. A good score is 25.”

The square pistol and rifle targets were the size of a hombre’s chest. A buzzard –shaped target offered a drawing for a door prize if hit by a competitor’s bullet. A clay target sprung upward during one stage, also entering any competitor hitting it with a shotgun pattern a chance at a bonus prize. The biggest prize up for grabs was prestige.

Each shooter must have a cowboy handle –that’s nickname to you dudes and you had better smile when you say it. They must also dress in traditional cowboy clothing. It was hot and humid on Saturday, August 12, so the match rules specified only a cowboy hat met dress code. Nevertheless, puffy, long-sleeved cowhand shirts, calico trousers with suspenders and neckerchiefs were nearly universal wear.

Holloman began shooting SASS 12 years when a friend invited him to a match. Rich Hunt, aka Chance Holden, began shooting three years ago after reading a story about the club’s Cowboy Action matches.

“I was a small-bore and big-bore rifle competitor in Connecticut,” said Holden, a retiree from Supply. “I tried cowboy shooting and got hooked on it. Now I shoot in all of the club’s monthly matches.”

Hunt’s rig was a matched pair of Ruger Vaquero .45-caliber pistols, a Stoeger 12-gauge double-barrel stagecoach gun and a Henry Big Boy .45-caiber lever gun. All SASS firearms must be replica or authentic firearms of the “Old West” within certain dates of the 1800s. Each match has a theme and various stages are sent to competitors on the Internet with match information available on the club’s website, buccaneergunclub.org.

Charlie “Bell Swamp Charlie” White showing off his skills at a pistol stage.

The posse of cowboys voiced appreciation of watching westerns and spoke fondly of shooting cap pistols, especially Mattel Fanner 50s, when they were kids. Greg Lynch, aka Misther Completely, even ’fessed up that he was named after western movie stars Gregory Peck and John Wayne.

“My middle name is Wayne,” said Lynch, a medical center supervisor from Fayetteville. “I grew up shooting and took up Cowboy Action four years ago. A match is held each week – here, at Wagram, Creedmoor or Fayetteville. I shoot in at least two of them every month.”