Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sassy Bruce


Almost two years ago while I was clicking through a news website I came across an article that saddened me. It reported the closing of the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. (technically the U.S. Repeating Arms Co., the Winchester name is licensed) manufacturing plant in New Haven, CT. The plant where Winchester rifles and shotguns had been made for over 150 years and production of the Model 1892 Winchester, probably THE most recognizable rifle in history was to cease. Anybody who has ever seen a John Wayne movie or any other Western knows what a 1892 Winchester lever-action rifle looks like even without the picture I posted above. It's been used in just about every Western movie ever made, even the ones that historically take place long before 1892 (which curiously is when the Model 1892 was introduced). This rather nostalgic article from (of all places) The Washington Post sums up what I was feeling when I heard the news of the demise of this unique American icon.

My dad was a huge fan of Westerns and I sat by his side watching and loving them too. Right up until a couple of years ago, whenever he came to visit he demonstrated a unique ability to find obscure channels on cable that played continuous reruns of old Western TV shows. As a kid I played cowboy complete with capguns and hat. Hell, I even had a real pony (mean little bastard named Cocoa) My family, like a lot of families back then, had a real Winchester. It was my Grandfather's and I think my uncle ended up with it but I learned to shoot it at an early age and took to it very well. I wasn't much into sports but man I loved target shooting. I was good at it.

When I read the news about the plant closure I decided I was going to look into getting one of those rifles before they became scarce and too expensive to buy. So I started Googling to try to gauge price and availability. During my search I accidentally came across a website for a shooting sport that I had never heard of. Cowboy Action Shooting. The website belonged to the national organization that oversees the sport. The Single Action Shooting Society more commonly known as SASS.




Can you imagine? A sport that involved using an alias, dressing like a cowboy and target shooting with real cowboy-style guns in a competitive setting. SIGN ME UP! I read the summary of the sport and all the other information available then I checked the locations of their affiliated clubs. There were three all within a hour of me. I went to watch the first match I could get to and started asking questions. As it turned out you need two pistols, a rifle and a shotgun plus all the other accessories so it took me a while to get everything together. It's not a cheap activity but they're not real sticklers on a lot of things other than safety when you're just starting out. I finally got myself fully equipped and officially shot in my first match last March. I was a bundle of nerves so my goal was just getting through the stages safely and getting a feel for the whole thing. I didn't set out to win anything and I wasn't disappointed but man was it ever fun. It's not an age or gender limited sport by any stretch of the imagination. There were whole families there - all shooting. Quite a few ladies and children, all of whom out shot me. The summer was insanely busy and got away from me so I didn't get back to another match as planned but...next year I intend to dive into it.


A local TV station in California did a story called "High Noon in Fresno" this week on the sport and the local club. It's pretty well done and provides a good introduction.

There are also several instructional videos posted on Expert Village that give an overview of the sport, equipment, and shooting categories.


I never did get that Winchester but I did end up with two Colt reproduction pistols, a Winchester reproduction and a double barrel shotgun. Oh, and an alias. You can call me Tiberius Wolf pardner. My kids however like to call me "Sassy Bruce".




16 comments:

Crashdummie said...

So the wild wild west era is making a come back huh? Go figure.

Oh well, buckle up cowboy! Yihaaa! :p

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Crash, it is indeed. What I find interesting is that the appeal of the American West (at least the romanticized version) is not limited to Americans. There are SASS affiliated clubs in Canada, Australia, Italy, and I believe a couple of other European countries.
Honestly, this is an excuse to give grown men and women a excuse to dress up and play cowboy again and have fun. And we all know there's a dwindling supply of fun these days.

Hungry Mother said...

When I was driving through Fresno in September, I had no idea what I was missing. Instead of some fun shooting, I ended up in a Wendy's that had the foulest imaginable smell coming out of the ladies room and they ran out of chocolate Frosties. At least I also missed the deadly fog on route 99.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Fresno sounds like a happenin' place. How the hell can a Wendy's run out of Frosties?!! They needed to be hog-tied and run outta town on a rail pardner. And as far as I'm concerned there only are chocolate Frosties. Vanilla is an imposter and an interloper and is to be ignored.

Mike said...

I would love to do something like that too, but for me, sadly, it would turn out like some kind of Barney Fife event with me shooting myself or someone else in the foot.

Tequila Mockingbird said...

is that you in the picture? you're cute for an old dude.

the best westerns are the ones with tom selleck in them.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Mike, we're a very safe crowd. Seriously it's the number rule. Nobody's walking around with loaded guns. Guns are loaded at a table beside the firing line (with someone watching and counting rounds) just before you shoot, then you go to an unloading table where someone checks that your guns are unloaded.

TM. Yes, that's me in the picture and umm. Thank you. I think. I will happily take the "you're cute" but will choose to ignore the qualifier.
And yes, Tom Selleck is great in westerns. Even without the Thomas Magnum shorts.

Preposterous Ponderings said...

I am a major sexy Tiberius Wolf fan!!!!

Very Niiiiiiiiiice!

Colonel Colonel said...

Thatt all sounds very cool, and you got a nice, authentic-lookin' gettup there, pardna'.

BBC said...

My first gun was a Winchester 30/30. Dad gave it to me for Christmas when I was 17. As a youth I used my dads 22 a lot to shoot rats at the dump.

When I was in Navy boot camp I did very well on the shooting range.

My hunting rifle as an adult was a Jap 6.5 MM model re-chambered to take a 257 Roberts cartridge. That was one sweet shooting gun, I took my first deer with it shooting uphill at 300 yards with one shot, drilled it right through the heart.


But I never did get much into guns and quit hunting years ago. Just have a nice Remington 22 rifle now. And a half gun, a .25 semi automatic pistol. They make a lot of noise but are not much good for anything past 25 feet.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Thank you Prepon. Always appreciated. And thank you for not qualifying it like that snot-nosed kid Tequila.

Thanks Col. You'd be surprised what you can find on Ebay. I'm particularly proud of snagging that duster.

BBC ours was a 30-30 too. I did quite a bit of .22 shooting too. Mostly targets and plinking cans but a few rats and frogs. Never got into hunting. I love spending time in the woods just never got into shooting Bambi.

Tequila Mockingbird said...

heeeeeeeey i am NOT a snot nosed kid. and FYI, i happen to like old dudes. lawyerman is a solid 15 years older than me. it WAS a compliment.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Okay TM I'll take it how you meant it. Didn't mean to be so touchy. I'll let you slide since you were such a good pirate on Halloween (well, that and I don't want to get punched in the throat).

Sara Sue said...

I think you're hot!

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Aww, shucks. Thank you ma'am.

Tequila Mockingbird said...

i was actually a naughty pirate on halloween, but i get your point.