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by on July 13, 2020
Santa Rosa Slinger is new to the game, so continuing on with the new shooter point of view here is what he thinks about our game and shooting CAS! Enjoy.
Where do you live?
Tampa, Florida.

When did you start shooting CAS? How did you get (or who got you) into the sport?
I started in December 2019 so at the time of this writing, I’m a newbie and just six months into the game. CAS is the first competitive shooting sport that I’ve ever participated in but I’m so glad that I did.

I initially stumbled upon it because I am a big fan of Red Dead Redemption (the video game series) which is known for its “End of the Wild West” storyline, fast gunplay, and countless other cowboy/western tropes. I eventually came across a YouTube video that discussed whether real people can actually shoot as fast as the characters in the game. The video answered “hell yes!” then showcased a few stages from an Arizona Cowboy Shooters Association match. It made me want to go check out a match in person so I looked up the SASS website, found a club that was only a 25 minute drive away from me, and contacted its match director (Moog). He encouraged me to show up to an Antelope Junction Rangers monthly where I met him, Shelleen and several others... and the rest, as they say, is history!



Who was your mentor, either known to them or not?
I’ve been fortunate to meet and learn so much from many people who frequent the matches here around the Tampa Bay. I could list all of them here, but suffice to say I am thankful for and look up to every one of them.

However, I am particularly grateful for the mentoring I’ve received from Shelleen and Moog. They are often at matches together and I learn something new from them every weekend that I come out to shoot. And as it would turn out, Shelleen lives practically down the road from me which has made working with and learning from him even more seamless, so if I had to single out one mentor it would be him. I appreciate him for taking me under his wing, starting literally on day one for me!


How much do you practice, and how many rounds a month do you send down range?
Unfortunately, my work schedule doesn’t typically let me get any live fire practice in. I will occasionally do some dry fire and laser practice at home if the mood strikes. Otherwise, most of my learning and growth actually happens at the monthly local matches so thankfully, there are several clubs within reasonable driving distance of me. In fact, during my first few months getting started, I was able to attend a match (and sometimes even two) every single weekend! At the moment, I consider myself lucky and satisfied if I manage to send 120 to 240 rounds downrange per month during the weekend matches.

Have you won any state, regional, national or world championships?
No, but it’s certainly something to strive for! I am looking forward to participating in this year’s Florida state championship match in a few months which will be my first “big” shooting competition ever.

Tell us about your most memorable match:
I’ve only been to 15 matches so far and all were local monthlies, but a recent one does stand out. It wasn’t because of some mind-blowing personal best time or anything like that, but I treasure the memory of the Weewahootee Vigilance Committee monthly match on 6/6/2020. I originally wasn’t even planning to attend because of the abysmal weather forecast and relatively long drive, but I was definitely feeling the “itch” so decided to go anyway. Moreover, my brother and dad (who both live elsewhere in Florida) were available and curious about my new hobby, so they joined me. We were greeted with such warm hospitality from the handful of people who also turned out. Despite the rain, all six stages took place and we all had a great time. My brother was given the opportunity to participate and it was fun to see his excitement after shooting his very first stage, just as I did only a few months prior.

Those who have met me may already know this, but I like to wear glasses with a built-in video camera and record while I shoot. It allows me to relive memories like those, critically review my performance, and track my personal progress over time. Plus, I think it’s fun to combine them with other recordings that people may have captured. For example, here is a video of my run through the last stage of the match I mentioned above:

What is your favorite aspect of CAS?
The people. I know everyone says that, but that must mean it’s something about our culture. I love how although we first start coming to matches primarily to ring steel with cowboy guns while in costume, we eventually keep coming back because we enjoy being around such wonderful and like-minded company. I love how despite the stereotypically cut-throat nature of competitive shooting sports, we instead foster a strong sense of camaraderie within our community. I love how we dedicate time and energy towards this hobby not only to better ourselves, but also each other.

Is there a story behind your alias? What is that story?
It felt right to use a place name for the first part of my cowboy alias, so I did. I wasn’t born in Florida, but the first town that I lived in the state is located in Santa Rosa County. Additionally, I have many fond memories from my teenage years that took place on the similarly-named Santa Rosa Island which is also located in the Florida panhandle.

“Slinger” is not only an alliterative play on the word “gunslinger” but also a reference to my profession. In real life, I am a urogynecologist and reconstructive pelvic surgeon. A common surgery that we perform to treat urinary incontinence involves placement of something called a midurethral sling. While brainstorming my alias, I remembered that during my training one of the operating room nurses would jokingly call me a “slinger” whenever we did that procedure... so I suppose the nickname stuck!


Do you have a travel/shooting buddy? (You know, that friend that makes this game what it is?)
Not yet, per se. Shelleen and I have shared rides to matches before, and I always look forward to when he and any of the other Tampa Bay “regulars” will be at matches, but I’m also still so early in the game and have so many more people to meet. Plus, I’m still working on convincing my wife, family, and friends to become regulars at matches too!

Where is your favorite place to shoot? (Range or match, past or present.)
I will always remember and highly regard the Antelope Junction Rangers because it was my first CAS match. At the moment, it’s also the closest thing (in terms of both distance and loyalty) to “my local club”. I also consistently enjoy shooting with the Lake County Pistoleros because of the number of people they tend to draw to their matches, the quality of their range, and because their club happens to be near my parents’ home. What better way is there to spend a weekend than by getting to see both your real family and your cowboy family?

What category do you shoot?
Age-based (Cowboy).

Have you tried other categories? What categories have you shot and how did that go?
Not yet... though I’ve been tempted to try Duelist or maybe even Gunfighter! However, I somewhat enjoy the novelty and challenge of being in my relatively small but competitive age-based category. I see myself sticking with it for now, or at least until I get a better handle on my technique and times.

What is your posse job of choice?
I’m not qualified for many other options yet, but I actually often prefer picking brass and resetting targets. In addition to the practical allure of getting the stage ready for the next person, I also enjoy the flexibility to observe the shooter’s movements, chat with people, learn a thing or two, move around, take photos/videos, etc. as long as the time and situation permits.

What is the time of your fastest clean stage?
24.31 seconds for a 10-10-4. I have only gotten below 25 seconds while clean on one or two other occasions and I’m still working to make it consistent, but it feels good to push yourself and start reaching the goals you set for yourself.

What was the best advice you got from a fellow shooter, and who was it?

  • “If you’re not having fun while doing this, it’s time to take a break because you might be missing the point.” (The Outlaw Travis James, paraphrased)
  • “Visualize your steps and your movements. You were given two hands and two feet for a reason so make sure you’re using all of them, all the time.” “It’s hard to think fast and shoot fast at the same time, so plan the dive and dive the plan.” “Don’t try to be fast. Try to be smooth, then being fast will come naturally.” (Shelleen, paraphrased)
  • “Try not to suck.” (Moog, verbatim)

What advice can you give to some of the shooters reading this?
Mostly for the other new guys: Don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone. I was admittedly very nervous before showing up to my first match because I felt that I wouldn’t fit in, that I wouldn’t shoot as fast or as well as I needed to, that I’d embarrass myself, and several other misconceptions that ended up being silly or outright untrue. Same thing about branching out and meeting as many people as you can at every event, showing up early, staying late, and asking how you can help out. It’s a great way for everyone to get to know you (and vice versa) and for you to learn as much as possible from them.

Finally, no need to be shy when people generously offer to lend you their guns, gear, ammo, and time especially when you’re first getting started. They just want you to have as much fun as they’re having. They’re also unlikely to accept anything in return from you... so instead, pay it forward!

What keeps you playing this game?
Because objectively speaking, CAS sounds like an unusual (if not outright weird) hobby at first... but once you try it and join the community, you can’t believe it took you this long to do so! It’s tons of fun, is very effective for stress relief, and allows you to challenge yourself in ways that your “normal life” might not. And of course, you get to hang out with so many cool people!

What is your favorite thing to do when you are not on the range or shooting?
My other personal interests include playing piano, ukulele, and guitar (hence the case I transport my cowboy guns in, for those who have seen it at matches); tinkering with computers and electronics; working with technology and multimedia; swimming, scuba diving, and practically anything involving the beach or water; and traveling. Above all else, my favorite thing to do is enjoy time with my wife, family, and friends.
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