(OH) Havin' Fun Shootin' Old Guns


April 23, 2003, 05:11 PM
Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

April 20, 2003 Sunday CITY EDITION

LENGTH: 663 words

Piqua shooting range offers a taste of the Old West

BYLINE: Jim Morris Dayton Daily News

HARD TIMES - It was a hot, sunny morning on the dusty streets of Hard Times. It was the kind of morning when some varmint would just as soon shoot ya down like a dog as look at ya.

Trouble was brewing down at Chihuahua's Cantina. Already shots had been heard from the bank and the jail and nearby Fort Pickawillany.

Suddenly, gunfire erupted from inside the cantina. Bang! Bang!

Just when it appeared tragedy was about to strike, she jumped up from her chair in front of Chihuahua's.

And then, pistols blazin', Two Sons rescued her friends, gunning down the bandits and saving the day.

A scene from the Old West, or maybe a western movie? Well, perhaps. That's the idea. That's how it was last week in the minds of the Miami Valley Cowboys.

About 100 gun-totin' folks converged on Hard Times, a movie-set-like shooting range set up on the grounds of the Piqua Fish & Game, just west of Piqua.

They meet about once a month from March through November to shoot it out on the various stages, using scenarios created by their members. It might be like the one at the cantina. Another, last week, had deputy sheriff Teddy Roosevelt rounding up some bad guys in the Dakota territories, based on a true story.

Cowboy Action Shooting, which also has a chapter called Big Irons Rangers at the Middletown Sportsmen's Club, is part of a nationwide organization with more than 50,000 members called SASS, the Single Action Shooting Society, named for the type of old shootin' irons they use, originals and reproductions.

When they go to a shoot, they always dress the part. Everything is authentic as possible to the late 19th century. At Hard Times, you could walk up and down the street and encounter folks in all sorts of western garb, some with buckskins, chaps, spurs, boots and all sorts of cowboy hats, leather vests and ladies in long, fancy dresses right out of Gunsmoke .

And they all have Old West aliases - like Two Sons, Chihuahua, Diablo, Buckshot Jones, Red Mike, Lassiter, etc. Some are based on actual Old West characters from history, movies, '50s and '60s TV shows and books. Others are just made up to sound like cowboy names. No two SASS members can have the same name, and it must be registered with the SASS office in California.

"As you can imagine, since all this started, all the good ones have been taken," said Corbin Dallas (Don Celmar of Beavercreek). "So now when a new member joins, it takes a little time to come up with a good alias."

In addition to actual target shooting competition, for which shooters are scored and timed at each range (stage), it's just a day of good fun, ending with a big barbecue at the Chuck Wagon.

"I guess you could say we're all living out our childhood fantasies," Celmar said. "That's our motto - havin' fun shootin' old guns."

At the same time, the shooting is very serious business. Everyone must wear eye protection and strict procedures must be followed.

"Safety is the most important thing," said Two Sons (Teresa Selby of Springboro). "Everyone is very conscious of gun safety and we don't tolerate even the slightest infraction."

Two Sons, who is married to Short Tom (Tom Selby), picked her name because she has two sons. The sons are taller than their father, so he picked up the alias of Short Tom. They are very involved in SASS, attending shoots all over the country. She is also an instructor, giving lessons and seminars on Cowboy Action Shooting.

The Miami Valley Cowboys will host the state shoot, "Shoot-out at Hard Times," June 5-8. The Big Irons Rangers will host the Midwest regional competition, "Guns of August," Aug. 7-10.

For information on the Miami Valley Cowboys, call 381-0012 or visit www.mvcowboys.org or www.bigirons.com .

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