Lady Shootist

Don’t let anyone tell you that cowboy action shooting is just for old men. I’ve seen several young ladies at recent matches that beat the pants off the men. There’s just something about a woman and a lever action rifle that stirs the blood.

Just kidding ma’am. 😉

Lady Shootist

Lady Shootist – Magnolia, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/8 for 1/160th of a second at ISO 200. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

Sharps Shooter

Sharps

Sharps Shooter – Magnolia, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/8 for 1/200th of a second at ISO 200. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Sharps Shooter Sequence
Click on the images below for larger versions.

Sharps Sequence A

Sharps Sequence B

Sharps Sequence C

Sharps Sequence D

Slow and Steady

A Cold Start
I shot my third SASS match with the great folks at Thunder River Renegades in Magnolia, Texas last weekend. The day started out bitterly cold and most folks wore their normal costumes with authentic 19th century long underwear or old west “dusters” to keep them warm. My heavy canvas range coat and lambskin gloves were just enough to keep me from freezing until the sun came out and began to warm us all up a bit.

I’ve never shot a match in forty degree weather before and my fingers were chilled to the bone during the first few stages. It’s a strange feeling to grasp a freezing cold single action pistol and each round that I fired jolted my hands and arms. The first shotgun round I put down range jammed the Stoeger’s butt-plate deep into my shoulder and felt like I’d been kicked by a mule. I shot the first stage “clean” (no misses or procedural errors) but felt like I was moving through molasses.

Hammer

Hammer – Magnolia, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/8 for 1/80th of a second at ISO 200. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Warming Up
There are no “warm up” stages in cowboy action shooting so everyone greets the first stage with the same sense of trepidation (for me it’s still terror, for others just nerves). On a cold February morning like this I knew I had to go “slow and steady” until my muscles (and mind) began to thaw out. I began to understand why the Civil War slowed down so much in the winter. I’m sure most Confederate soldiers hated fighting during those long winter months when just shooting your rifle in that bitter cold hurt like hell.

Speed

Speed – Magnolia, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 95mm, f/8 for 1/20th of a second at ISO 200. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Speed or Accuracy
I would love to be one of the many fine shooters I saw last weekend that could shoot both quickly and accurately but my days of being “fast on my feet” are long gone. I decided to see if a slow and steady course of fire would serve me better and shot four of the six stages clean with only one miss in each of the other two stages. After my nerved racked performance last month I was overjoyed to see my match “rank” climb into the bottom third of the group. I was also quite surprised to see that my overall time was not much slower than that of my previous match. Best of all, I had shaved off almost two minutes by shooting each stage as cleanly as possible.

Straight Shooting

Straight Shooting – Magnolia, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/8 for 1/125th of a second at ISO 200. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Reload

Reload – Magnolia, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/8 for 1/200th of a second at ISO 200. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Intensity

Intensity – Magnolia, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/8 for 1/200th of a second at ISO 200. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Enjoying Myself Completely
I guess my nerves have settling down a bit since I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of last weekend’s match with the fine folks at Thunder River Renegades. There’s nothing better than getting together with fifty friends to enjoy a bit of outdoor fun and competition.

Next weekend, Bristlecone Jan has something special planned for us at the Willow Hole Cowboys match in North Zulch, Texas. Having the ladies design the stages should add an interesting twist to our colorful sport. Can’t wait to get some photos of her to post. I’ve taken so many images of Fairplay John’s great costumes and black-powder shooting that it seems only right to embarrass Jan just a little. 😉

Where There’s Smoke . . .

Photographing the “black powder” shooters in action is a treat. These replicas of 1873 Winchester rifles shoot black powder cartridges reminiscent of the days before “smokeless” (modern) gun powder was invented. The percussion “open-top” pistols are even more interesting since there is no modern “cartridge” as we know it. Just a cap, ball and black powder! KaBoom…

Hammer Down

Hammer Down – North Zulch, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/7.1 for 1/160th of a second at ISO 400. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Smoke

Smoke – North Zulch, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 70mm, f/7.1 for 1/320th of a second at ISO 400. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Shooting Duelist

Duelist – North Zulch, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 73mm, f/7.1 for 1/160th of a second at ISO 400. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Willow Hole Cowboys – North Zulch, Texas

Willow Hole Cowboys Logo

 

Another Match / A New Club
I hadn’t planned on shooting another match so soon after a short but painful bought of food poisoning Thursday but by Saturday afternoon I was feeling better and decided to drive North Sunday morning to shoot with the Willow Hole Cowboys. The WHC is a SASS club located in North Zulch, Texas between Bryan and Madisonville. It’s a 2-1/2 hour drive on a quiet Sunday morning, through some of the most beautiful countryside in East Texas. The town of Zulch boasts a rich history dating back to the late 1830’s and the club takes its name from the original Willow Hole Church that existed up till the 1950’s.

I arrived at the Willow Hole Cowboys range early to see Fairplay John and his lovely wife Bristlecone Jan, whom I’d met earlier at the Thunder River Renegades in Magnolia. I was feeling very nervous about shooting at a new club and seeing these two friendly faces really helped calm the butterflies in my stomach. As I’ve said before, the people in this shooting sport are some of the most warm and friendly you could ever hope to meet. I got my cart all setup and walked up to pay and saw the familiar hat (and face) of Baba Looey, the gentleman I photographed at TRR during my first match two weeks ago.

Winchester 1897 Shotgun in Action

Winchester 97 Shotgun in Action – North Zulch, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 95mm, f/7.1 for 1/125th of a second at ISO 400. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Friendly Faces
I wandered around the range looking over the stages when Jan (seeing my nervousness) grabbed my arm and introduced me to the real “Willow Hole Cowboys”: Walter Durbin, DefWillie, Doc Bury’Em, Dealin’ Lead, Red River Mac, Lonesome Lefty, Rooster, Chato, Texican Slim, Yellertooth and One Shot Doc. I could tell that these were some serious shooters with years of experience. After a few minutes of introductions and small talk, Walter Durbin the “Range Master” went through the day’s schedule, rules and safety reminders including a story about a gun being dropped during Saturday’s match.

We proceeded to the first stage and I thought “Oh Lord, Please don’t let me screw up in front of these fine folks”. I swear I felt like a thousand butterflies were darting through my stomach until one shooter looked me square in the face and said, “I wonder how many times you’ve got to do this before the butterflies go away?”. Wow! That simple question coming from an experienced shooter did more to get me through that first stage than I ever thought possible and even though I missed almost every target (6 misses in my first twenty shots) I got through those “first stage jitters”. I must have looked like a frightened schoolboy on the first day of class and Jan graciously came over to me and said “Breathe”.

Intense Concentration

Intense Concentration – North Zulch, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 85mm, f/7.1 for 1/160th of a second at ISO 400. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Skill & Speed
The match progressed through the first few stages before I finally relaxed down enough to shoot straight and began to enjoy myself. I spent a lot of time watching the other shooters’ form and strategy and it was a real pleasure to see some great shooting with a variety of different firearms. Let me tell you, these folks can put an 1873 lever-action rifle through its paces faster and smoother than I’d ever thought possible.

I also saw some long distance (Cody-Dixon) rifle shooting that amazed me. It was awesome to see a vintage lever-action rifle hit a six inch steel target at 100 yards with nothing more than a semi-buckhorn sight. John Chisum or Lucas McCain would have been proud to hit such a mark!

Black Powder and Orange Smoke

Black Powder and Orange Smoke – North Zulch, Texas
Copyright © 2012 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture (Av) priority using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand held. The exposure was taken at 85mm, f/7.1 for 1/160th of a second at ISO 400. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.
Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

Great Action / Wonderful Color
The black powder pistols and rifles were especially interesting to watch. I’d never seen one up close before and FairPlay John’s matched set of percussion pistols were gorgeous. I got my camera out and came away with some wonderful action shots of this colorful sport as you can see here. Combining my passion for photography with such a great subject such as cowboy shooting is going to be a real challenge for me. I enjoy capturing this shooting sport and sharing my work with y’all but I “itch” to grab my own guns whenever I see one of these “old pros” step up to shoot a stage!

Many Thanks
I had a great time shooting with the Willow Hole Cowboys and truly appreciate their friendly advice and coaching of this newcomer. I look forward to seeing y’all again next month and around this part of Texas!

Now That’s What I Call Fun!

Shot my first match with the Thunder River Renegades in Magnolia, Texas this weekend. Many thanks to John Ross (aka Johnny Morris) for the loan of his daughter’s Marlin carbine!

How the Hell Did I Get Here?
I’ve been searching high and low for a cowboy shooting gun belt that would help me transition from IDPA shooting to cowboy action shooting, with very little luck. Last week I was trawling the Internet, searching through dozens of site and happened upon simple web page from JM Leather in Alvin, Texas right down the road from Sugar Land. I try to buy in Texas if at all possible and the leatherwork displayed on this site was top notch, so I thought, “what the heck?” and sent Johnny Morris an email.

I had an idea in my head for a gun belt with three double shotshell loops on the left, just forward of my left holster (exactly where my spare magazines would be in IDPA) and five single cartridge loops on the right, just forward of my right holster. I really hate the thought of wearing a gun belt and separate shotshell belt and just wanted something simple, clean and light-weight. Johnny’s All-In-One Belt was the closest thing I’d seen but I wanted the buckle facing forward.

After a few emails back & forth, I asked Johnny if we could get together to discuss the project and he suggested I come and shoot this weekend with the Thunder River Renegades in Magnolia. Talk about “customer service”. Not only had I found someone local that did high-quality leatherwork, I’d also found someone to shoot with. Johnny even loaned me his daughter’s Marlin since my Rossi 92 is still being worked on. I don’t remember anything like this ever happening in IDPA.

Old Time Shooting

Old Time Shooting – Magnolia, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon Powershot G10 set on aperture priority (Av) using a circular polarizer. The exposure was taken at 32mm, f/4.5 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 80. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.

A Case of Nerves
There’s nothing quote as nerve racking as your first time out in a new shooting sport. You walk up to that line. I remember vividly the first time I shot IDPA and darn near dropped my magazine on the first reload. The buzzer goes off and all those months of dry-fire & live practice got right out the window. Adrenaline kicks in and your once nimble fingers feel like you’re wearing a catcher’s mitt. You silently pray “Oh Lord, Don’t Let Me Drop This Gun”.

My first experience in cowboy action shooting was somewhat similar but with a really big difference, the people! The folks at the Thunder River Renegades couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. Johnny hooked me up with Rawhide (in cowboy shooting, you are your alias) who ran me through the basics and checked me out on range safety, course etiquette and sweep definitions (we’ll cover these in detail later). He had me load each firearm (rifle, pistols & shotgun) and let me get my first taste of shooting steel plates. This type of immediate feedback sure beats trying to see a hit on an 8″ perforated circle in IDPA, let me tell you!

Once the stage began I waited my turn at the loading table and tried not to let the butterflies in my stomach carry me off. What’s to worry about? It’s just two pistols (single-action), a lever-action rifle I’d borrowed and a coach gun that I’d slicked up myself. The Timer said “Next Shooter” and I thought to myself, “Oh Lord, What Have I Gone and Done?”.  I stepped up to the platform, staged my rifle and shotgun and waited for the Timer to say “Shooter Ready”.

The buzzer sounded and I grabbed my rifle, brought it to my shoulder, levered a round into the chamber and squeezed off my first shot in cowboy action shooting. A clean miss! The Posse Marshal calls out “High” as I send another shot over the second steel target. I adjust my aim almost 8″ lover and am finally rewarded with that most beautiful sound in cowboy shooting, “Clang”. I continue shooting each target: “Clang”, “Clang”, “Clang” until the rifle is empty. I set it down and move quickly to the pistol targets, drawing my left revolver as I move towards the second position. “Clang”, “clang”, “clang”, “clang”, “Miss”. I draw my right revolver and cleanly sweep the same group of targets. I move toward the third position while holstering my revolver with my right hand and grab two shotshells in left hand.

I grap the shotgun just as I’ve practiced and load two shotshells, bring it to my shoulder and fire off my right barrel. I hear the “Clang” and the Timer says “Down” (shotgun targets have to “fall”, not just get hit). I quickly let go with my left barrel and hear that beautiful “clang” once again. I break open the coach gun, dump the spent shells just as I’ve practiced and grab another two from my belt. That’s when my nerves kick into high gear! I bring the two new shotshells toward the open barrels and miss both openings. After what seems an eternity, I load the two shotshells and open fire on the last two targets. “Clang”, “Clang”, Done!

I grab my rifle & coach gun and walk to the uploading table with a big grin on my face and a sense of wonder. What took these seven paragraphs to write happened in less than forty seconds of “real time”. The next four stages went just as fast and I shot one of them “clean” and with a decent time.

Girls & Guns

Girls & Guns – Magnolia, Texas
Copyright © 2011 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon Powershot G10 set on aperture priority (Av) using a circular polarizer. The exposure was taken at 32mm, f/4.5 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 80. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.

Some Great Shooting
Cowboy action shooting events bring out the best in people and bring out the best shooters. This young lady, “Hey You” is a Ladies Traditional Texas State and Southwest Regional Champion. Watching her run that lever-action rifle with nary a miss was a joy to witness. Like all the folks I’ve met in this shooting sport, this young lady was enthusiastic, polite and friendly to everyone in the match. Unlike some other shooting sports, folks that come to a cowboy match seem to leave their ego’s at home. I’ve honestly never met such a warm and friendly group of folks before.

My thanks to Johnny, Rawhide, Miss Ellie and all the rest of the Thunder River Renegades for making this a weekend to remember. See you next month!

Southeast Texas SASS – January Match Schedule

Single Action Shooting SocietyFor those of you too timid to jump right in like I did, you can come hang out at any of these SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) matches in Southeast Texas during the month of January. Guests are always welcome and folks are very friendly.

Who knows, you might even catch the cowboy action shooting bug!