COLUMBUS — The Columbus Rifle Club shooting range was filled with the familiar sounds of shots firing and targets ringing, but the visuals were a little different.
Part of the fun of cowboy action shooting, according to enthusiasts at Saturday’s state competition, is dressing up like they’re back in the Wild West and going by an alias inspired by that time period.
Janice "Sadie Marcus" Hacker and her husband Max “W.B. Earp” from WaKeeney, Kansas, win awards “all the time” for best dressed couple.
“It’s a hoot,” said Hacker. “We have a blast.”
“Everybody wants to be a cowboy,” said Gregg Clement of Table Rock, who is known as “Mustang Gregg." “It’s like cowboys and Indians but with real guns.”
Kevin Conklin, aka “Speedbird,” said he has continued with cowboy action shooting to improve his time.
“It’s a challenge,” he said. “It looks easier than it is.”
But he originally got into it for the firearms.
“I have a fascination with old-type firearms,” Conklin said.
Cowboy action shooting includes a few different timed competitions, but all involve modern replicas of six-shooters, rifles and shotguns from post-Civil War to the last days of the cowboys and Wild West in the United States in the 1900s.
David "Stirrup Trouble" Sayers of Palmer said the guns make this competition more fun.
“It’s not an equipment war, where you have a guy with a $4,000 gun against a stock gun,” said Sayers. “Some guys just like to play cowboy, some like to go fast. But you don’t have a lot of egos like other shooting sports.”
Many participants said there’s also a sense of camaraderie among competitors.
“Other competitions, they find a knack, they keep it secret — cowboys share,” said Clement. “You get some food, grab a drink; everyone has a good time.”
“You meet so many friends when you’re cowboy action shooting,” said Hacker.
“If you don’t have friends when you show up, you have them when you leave,” said Sayers.