homepage logo

Playing Nine Pins with Cowboys

By Staff | Jan 27, 2009

(L) Range Officer Doc Allan Wood prepares to time Lostrider Calhoun during a stage at Spooky Hollow Gun Club.

Sitting at the bottom of the foothills of North Mountain, high in the ridges near Beaver Lake, nestled in a small hollow easily overlooked by any passerby is an archaic little town. The folks here emerge from their hovels, shanties, and lean-twos clad in forgotten attire. The place is remote and mostly populated with men who wear upon their backs long-sleeved buttoned-up shirts; some double-breasted, and some with leather strings in place of buttons.

Over these can be found vests, and all wear jeans, some blue and some buck skin. And shod on every foot are thick-pointed boots with spurs. The men also don large long dusters, their heads are capped by wide brimmed hats, and their faces grow beards, mustaches, or long sideburns.

The few women residing here are clothed in petticoats, and long dresses that swoosh as they walk and wink tidbits of lace at the ankles. Their feet are shod in pointy boots and shin high laces. Upon their pretty heads are great wide-brimmed hats shining purples, reds, or blacks and plumed with feathers.

Security and protection is not a problem in this tiny little town, for men and women alike are clad in leather gun belts, holstering on each side a hog-leg. Almost every member has a lever action rifle and a scattergun.

No, this is not an Old Dutch settlement from a Washington Irving story, nor is it a ghost town from the Wild West. It’s a place for men and woman alike to get a taste of what is known as Action Cowboy Shooting, the fastest growing competitive shooting sport. Unlike competitively shooting clay pigeons or long-range targets with rifles, the participant uses more than one firearm in a competition.

(R) Posse members at the bath house/barber shop.

Staged scenarios are set up and steel targets are shot in various different orders. The use of pistol, rifle, and scattergun also changes in order of play, depending on what the scenario calls for. But all scenarios call for two revolvers, a lever action or pump action rifle and a double barrel shotgun. Firearms can be of any caliber, but the player must have two pistols, one rifle, and one shotgun.

Competitors are as congenial and friendly as an ironworker or blacksmith-a down-to-earth laid-back character who is more interested in sharing his knowledge and tools in order to have a potential future friend who will help him out when he finds himself in need. They’re elated when they can assist a stranger with ammunition or lend a gun for a scenario or two, even if the novice can’t hit the rear-end of a cow with a snow shovel.

To participate, all one has to do is bring the firearms described and a box of shells for the shotgun, and three boxes of ammunition for the rifle and the pistols. Ear and eye protection are also required, along with a $10 entry fee, lunch is $5 and soda is 50 cents.

Once a person chooses an alias, they’re placed with a posse-a group of 5-15 people-and begin three scenarios before lunch and three afterwards. The scenarios vary from a stagecoach, saloon, general store, riverboat, or train. Way up high in the Beaver lake area this spectacle of rugged cowboy marksmanship can be found on the Spooky Hollow Gun Club’s grounds.

In a little hollow with a western looking building is the wild western town of El Posse Grande. And on the faade is a shifty little bandito holding playing cards and six-shooters that would make Yosemite Sam run all the way home.

For those who care to brave the wilds of the North Country, meet some gruff but friendly admirers of true gun control, and to step out of their comfort zones for some adventure; this is the place to be. Here with these ghosts Rip Van Winkle himself wouldn’t fall asleep for fear of missing his turn to shoot.

For more information on shooting times or events contact Black Hills Barb at 570-538-9163 or by e-mail “mailto:basnyderev1@comcast.net”>basnyderev1@comcast.net.