The props are normally designed where shooters fire from doorways or windows at the targets. The steel targets outside the church look like tombstones. Only lead bullets are allowed.
“It's a really good shooting sport for women because everything that we shoot is low power and there is very little kick to anything,” said Hile's wife, Melody, aka Missouri Mae.
Dressing the part of the Old West also is a SASS requirement. The costume has to be authentic from classic cowboy to B western movies.
“I probably have 50 (cowboy) shirts and 20 pairs of boots,” Flat Top Okie said.
Participants in cowboy action shoots range from ages 10 to 90, but most people who play are from the generation that grew up watching John Wayne and Roy Rogers on the big screen and Rowdy Yates and Matt Dillon on the small one.
“I love the cowboy movies,” said Butch Everett of Newcastle, aka Stickbow. “I used to rodeo. That got too painful, so this is what I do now.”
SASS has kept cowboy action shooting from being a cutthroat competition. No cash prizes are awarded, and shooters are not allowed to have sponsors.
“The reason cowboy action shooting is so successful is they never made it a money game,” Cat Ballou said. “Anybody can compete. You are not going to drive off in a new Cadillac or win $10,000. We have fabulous shooters, but they win a buckle or a plaque or a trophy.”
And in the tradition of the cowboy way, everyone helps the gunslinger who is down on his luck.
“I have done a lot of shooting sports and they won't share secrets with you,” Stickbow said “They won't share (ammo) or any kind of information, but this group of people, they just give you their stuff.
“With the aliases you can be shooting with a multimillion dollar executive or you can be shooting with a guy that's digging ditches and never know. Everybody is the same.”
I guess Samuel Colt really did make all men equal.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Land Run concludes Sunday with team matches, but the Territorial Marshals, name of the cowboy action division of the Oklahoma City Gun Club, holds cowboy action shoots twice a month. For more information on cowboy action shooting, visit www.okcgunclub.org.