SUN-NEWS - Silver City Edition - 10/18/04...

"Shooters take aim at bragging rights"
By By Levi Hill
Oct 18, 2004, 07:30 am

 

A contestant in the Gila Rangers Geronimo Trail Shoot Out takes aim with his shotgun at a metal target down range while the judge holds the timer close enough for him to hear the beep through the ear plugs. Contestants must shoot the most targets in the shortest time using their pistols, a rifle and a shotgun to win the competition. (Sun-News photo by Levi Hill)

North of Mimbres the sounds of gunfire and the smell of gunsmoke filtered down the canyon this weekend as cowboys and cowgirls shot it out to see who’s the best gunslinger in the territory.
For three years, the annual Geronimo Trail Cowboy Action Shootout has drawn shooters from around the southwest to compete. Prizes at the shootout are generally small, but it is the fun — and bragging rights — that draw contestants to the event every year.
“It is all about fun,” duelist shooter Frank “Led Foulin” Gramer, 62, of Silver City said. “These are good all-American people and this is really all about socializing, having fun and the bragging rights that come with winning.”
Gramer is one of many shooters at the event who recently moved to the Southwest from another area of the country because of the shooting sport, the weather and the history. Gramer said he has always loved the Southwest and moved to the Silver City area two years ago because of the Gila Rangers Cowboy Action Shooting Club.
“I’ve been shooting about five years and I love it,” Gramer said. “This area is just made to order for a guy like me and this sport and this club are one reason we chose to live here.”
Jim “Michigander” Docherty, a Michigan resident, found the same reason to buy a house in Deming and spend his winters in the Southwest. Aside from avoiding the mounds of snow and sub-zero temperatures, Docherty said he came to the area because of the shooting sport and his love of the history of the wild West.
“I have always enjoyed shooting and I love the sport, but I couldn’t find anyone to shoot with until I learned about the club down here,” Docherty said.
Aside from bringing in out-of-state people to the area, the sport also brings in lots of money and tourists. Gila Rangers president Frank “Chico Cheech” Ferrara said the shootouts bring in as many as 100 people for the Victorio’s Run shootout in April, and last year brought as much as $30,000 to the Mimbres economy with participants staying in local hotels and eating at local restaurants.
Ferrara said every shooter comes to the events in full cowboy or Western-style dress, and each one also chooses an alias to go by. This year, only 26 shooters showed up for the Geronimo Trail Shootout and Ferrara blames the turnout on the simultaneous shootout in Moriarty held by the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), which recently relocated to New Mexico from California.
“We usually have around 40 to 50 shooters at this event, but many are in Moriarty for the SASS shootout this weekend,” Ferrara said. “We are expecting as many as 250 shooters for the Victorio’s Run shootout in April because it will be the state championship.”
The shooting isn’t just for the retired men, either. Many young adults and teens participate in the shootouts and women also have a big place in the competitions. Cindy “May Bea Able” Richardson has been shooting for four years and moved to Alamogordo with her husband from Wisconsin to enjoy the not-so-snowy New Mexico winters and the shooting clubs.
“Shooting really brought us here,” Richardson said. “My husband and I love the desert and we love to shoot.”
Richardson said she almost always finishes in the top four places for women shooters at events and took home the first-place prize this year. She said, however, she wants to see more women getting involved in the shootouts and in shooting competitions. She blames the lack of women shooters on the stigma that it isn’t socially acceptable for women to be shooting, but says it is great for any woman.
“It is a great sport and great for the kids too,” Richardson said. “It is a great way to get involved and have fun. You don’t have to be competitive to have fun. We all laugh around here all the time and become like a family at these events.”
The Victorio’s Run Shootout is scheduled for April 13-17, 2005, at the Fowler’s Lumber Mill north of Mimbres. For more information, visit www.gilarangers.com or call Frank Ferrara at 388-2531.

 

Levi Hill can be reached at lhill@scsun-news.com

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