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by on March 9, 2021

Where do you live? (what state or country)

I am born and raised in Jupiter, the hometown of Burt Reynolds, along the southeast coast of the great Sunshine State known as Florida.  Home of the very first cowboys in North America and of the infamous Florida Cracker Cow Hunters like Bone Mizell.  Jupiter is about an hour southeast from the very first cattle ranch ever in the U.S. near Yeehaw Junction in central Florida. 

Jupiter is in northeastern Palm Beach County and about 20 miles north of West Palm Beach.  It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas of Florida and was the site of many battles (Old Fort Jupiter across the inlet from the Jupiter Lighthouse) during the 3 Seminole Wars.

When did you start shooting CAS and how did you or who got you into the sport?

I started shooting CAS in August of 2018.  About 6 months earlier I was getting certified by the NRA to become a firearms instructor and range safety officer.  Cowboy Action Shooting was mentioned as an aside to a chapter about competitive shooting.  I have been shooting since I was 6 and was an Army Infantry grunt and mortar maggot but had never shot any single action guns before.  This prospect greatly intrigued me. 

So, I got on the internet and started researching it.  The first video I found was of Lead Dispencer absolutely burning down a stage in like 15 seconds.  Then I saw a video of Deuce Stevens running a ‘97 as smooth as butter with 6 over the top.  Which, by the by, brought me to a video by Hawkeye Gin called "Light Em Up" and that was it. 

I had waffled for over 6 months because I was not too keen on the idea of wearing cowboy boots and hat to shoot.  But once I saw the “Light Em Up” video (and the rest of HG13's library) I simply had to go and see what it was all about.

I searched the SASS net and contacted the closest club to me, the OK Corral Outlaws in Okeechobee Florida.  I was invited to come and watch their July Monthly.  After the match, they allowed me to shoot a stage off the clock and I have been all in from that point on.

There were several of the Gold Coast Gunslingers at the Outlaws match including Jeremiah Longknife and they invited me down to shoot their match the next weekend.  Polecat Joe offered to let me use his guns so I could shoot the entire match.  The August 2018 GCGS Monthly was my very first Cowboy Action Shooting match down at Markham Park.  And the rest, as they say, is infamy.

Who was your mentor, either known to them or not?

My very first mentor was and still is Polecat Joe.  He lent me his guns and a shotgun belt so I could start shooting right away.  He helped me get my first press so I could start loading.  He’s also the voice of reason for me when I get all needlessly worked up about something.  His continued support and encouragement are especially important to me.  I appreciate everything he has done and continues to do for me since I started shooting Cowboy.

Second, was Jeremiah Longknife, who helped me with my shooting technique.  I attended all three of his classes (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) in one day at his house.  We spent about 4 hours working on transitions and movement as well as gun manipulation.  He is always there to offer me advice on how I can improve my stage runs and good-natured grief about my goof ups. 

The most helpful all around has been Delta Glen.  He has helped me hone my game over the past year.  The most help he provided me was the mental side of the game.  When I am wound tight about a bad run or stupid mistake, he has been there to talk me down from the ledge, so to speak.  Not to mention the emergency parking lot shotgun repairs, he has done so many things for me out of the goodness of his heart that I could not list them all.  His friendship and guidance have been the most influential on me to date.

Fireball has been a huge mentor for me in all areas of CAS.  He and I seem to have a running text conversation about how to fix something.  Whether it be my XL-650, ‘97, ‘73, or anything else for that matter, Fireball has helped me fix it.  When one of your aliases is Bam-Bam, gunsmithing knowledge is immensely helpful and cost effective.  He has also helped by recommending and lending a few books to help me sort out the mental part of my game which is a work in progress.  His extensive knowledge about nearly every aspect of Cowboy Action Shooting is unparalleled in my experience.

Unknown to them (at least at first) where Dang It Dan, Santa Fe River Stan, and Arcadia Outlaw.  Before I was able to shoot with Stan and Outlaw in person, I studied all the videos I could find of them and modeled my shooting after what I saw in their games.  I attempted to emulate my grab four technique after Outlaw’s because his is so silky smooth.  And the rest of my technique was modeled after Stan and Dan.

Another mentor (possibly unknown) was Hawkeye Gin.  Her videos are what set the CAS hook in my lip.  As I began to see there was a need for promotion of our unique and wonderful sport, I drew a lot of inspiration from her videos.  They have been, and still are a big influence on me when I feel a creative block.  Now, if only I could learn half the editing skills she has.  To be continued…

Another (unknown to them) inspiration has been Deadeye Dillard.  His wonderful instructional videos and Vlogs has given me many ideas for future projects.  I cannot wait to start working on those in the near future.

How much do you practice, how many rounds a month do you send down range?

Since starting CAS, most of my practice has consisted of dry fire.  I have had only a half dozen or so live fire practice sessions.

I typically do three days of dry fire practice per week for anywhere between 20 - 60 minutes depending on what I am practicing and how the practice is going.  If things are going smoothly, I will usually practice a little longer, if not I cut it shorter.

Normally Monday and/ or Tuesday is dedicated to ‘97 dry fire.  Wednesday is rifle and pistol practice.  And then Thursday and/or Friday is spent on transitions and sweeps.  I will have an upcoming videos series on dry fire practice so stay tuned for that.

When primers where not so scarce, I would typically shoot 6 - 7 matches per month.  So that would equate to 750 - 900 live fire rounds a month plus another 5 - 600 for Chickie.  Since the primer shortage has hit, I have cut my monthly matches down to four per month in an attempt prolong our rapidly dwindling primer supply.


Have you won any state, regional, national or world championships?

I won the Cowboy open category of the 2020 Southeast Territorial Black Powder Championship, Darkness Falls and the International Black Powder Championship, A Dark Day on the Santa Fe.  Both matches are hosted by Fort White Cowboy Cavalry in north Florida and are a must shoot!

Tell us about your most memorable match:

My most memorable match was the 2019 Southeastern Regional, Ambush at Cavern Cove.  Not because of how I shot or anything to do with my match.  It was nothing to remember.

The reason it is my most memorable match is because of how my girlfriend, Chickie Winsome shot.  She had only been shooting for about a year at that point.  It was her first multi-day annual match, and it was our first big match being possed with the Cracker Crew from northern Florida.

I typically do not get nervous, about anything.  But I remember feeling extremely nervous with full on butterflys in my stomach just before her first stage of the practice match.  But she went out and took care of business like it was no big deal.  And from that point on, she became more confident and comfortable with each stage.  She finished 4th in Lady Wrangler and buckled in her first big match!

Everyone on the posse could see her improvement throughout the match and by the end of it, we all knew she was now a force to reckoned with in the Lady Wrangler category. 

What is your favorite aspect of CAS?

I really enjoy the competitive and technical side of our great sport.  Figuring out the most efficient and smoothest way to execute a stage is great fun in my opinion.  I also enjoy helping others improve their game or simply their enjoyment of each stage. 

Is there a story behind your alias, and what is that story?

The very first movie I can remember seeing was The Outlaw Josey Wales with my Great Grandfather and my Grandfather.  I’ve always been very rebellious (to a fault) and the black sheep of the family.  I used my first and middle name because when my mother called me “Travis James” I knew I was in big trouble, so I felt it was perfect to go along with The Outlaw moniker.

The OTJ came about when we started to travel to north Florida to shoot.  Down south most people call me Travis or Outlaw.  But up north there was already a Travis (Santa Fe River Stan) and an Outlaw (Arcadia Outlaw) so they came up with The OTJ to avoid confusion.  There have been many variations on it as well.  The latest iteration was thunk up by Moog.  “The OCDTJ” I’ll let you figure that one out for yourselves.

Do you have a travel/shootin buddy? (you know that friend that makes this game what it is)

My traveling buddy, since before she started shooting, has always been my girlfriend Chickie Winsome.  Chickie would come and hang out with the posse and take pictures and occasionally they would get her to spot.  But just before the Red Hills Ruckus 2019, the Florida State Championship, she told me she wanted to shoot as well.

We got her the gear, and we went to the range so she could get comfortable with the guns and process of shooting a stage.  And she shot her first match at the OK Corral Outlaws in Okeechobee, Florida and has shoot with me ever since.  We travel all over the state to shoot with about 7 or 8 different club’s monthly matches.  We average about 2500 miles per month driving to matches.  She does not tag along for every match but for at least 70% of them.

We plan on driving out to EOT 2021 next year!  We’re both very excited as it will be our first trip out there.

Where is your favorite place to shoot? (range or match past or present)

My favorite place to shoot is my home club, The OK Corral Gun Club home to the OK Corral Outlaws in Okeechobee Florida.  It is a resort for shooting sports and one of the nicest ranges I have ever seen.

My favorite match to shoot is the Roughshod Raiders in Gainesville Florida because of the very technical and creative stages written by Delta Glen.

Have you tried other categories? What categories have you shot and how did that go?

I have shot my age group, the Wrangler category, for every match since I started sans one; A Dark Day of the Santa Fe 2020.  I shot the open category in that black powder match.  I plan to stick to shooting my age category. 

I am registered to shoot the King of Kaboom category at Dark Day 2021 in January.  I am sure I will have a blast with that!  Pun intended…

What is you posse job of choice?

Timer Operator followed by spotting.  I enjoy the shooting aspect so much that I prefer to be involved on the firing line as much as possible.  I get great enjoyment out of watching others executing smooth runs and having fun with their shooting.  I guess cheerleader is my favorite posse job when I think about it!

What is the time of your fastest clean stage?

10 10 6 = 16.58

10 10 4 = 15.08

10 10 2 = 13.97

10 10 (Shotgun only for make ups on knockdowns) 13.27


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

“Shoot your game.” Santa Fe River Stan - Ambush 2019

I wrote an entire blog about it.  Check it out here on ASN.

What advice can you give to some of the shooters reading this?

“You do you.”

Do your own thing within the bounds of the rules & the Spirit of the Game and do not worry about what others are doing.  There are so many different aspects and nuisances to our great game that nearly anyone can find their niche.  If you want to compete, or dress to the nines, or shoot period correct guns, or shoot a variety of different guns, dabble on the dark side with the holy black, shoot one handed, or just come to hang out and keep score.  There is something for everyone. 

Find your happy place and allow others find theirs.

What keeps you playing this game?

Variety.  For me, variety is what keeps life interesting.  I enjoy the fact that every single stage we shoot is different.  That each match and stage writer is different.  And that I continue to meet and chat with so many different people at each and every match.  

What is your favorite thing to do when you are not on the range or shooting?

I enjoy playing drums, promoting CAS, hiking (which really means pack mule-ing Chickie’s camera gear all over the trails), camping in our travel trailer, reading and researching my subjects of interest, smoking good cigars, learning about and dabbling in graphic design and video editing, visiting historical sites, climbing lighthouses (up to 54 thus far), journaling and philosophizing, road tripping, studying Florida history, heraldry, and so much more.

Anything else you would like to add:

I am eternally grateful for finding Cowboy Action Shooting when I did.  And I am committed to helping this sport grow.  But we need everyone’s help to promote this sport to new shooters.  Post videos or your stages, pictures of your posse, blog about your matches, lend advice on guns, gunsmithing help, leatherworking advice, or whatever content you can lend.  The more we flood social media with great Cowboy Action Shooting content, the more people we reach.  Just think about how many eyes we could get in front of if every SASS shooter shared just one picture per match.

Like (16)
Branchwater Jack
And, while they may not know it, OTJ and Moog are big reasons we started doing The Firing Line. It just goes to show how you can burn the whole house down with just one spark 1f92a.png
March 9, 2021
The Outlaw Travis James
Just call me Sparky! 1f60e.png
March 9, 2021
Razorback Red
Great interview and a great guy!
March 9, 2021
The Outlaw Travis James
Thank you
March 9, 2021
Blazing Saddles
You are an inspiration in determination and super fun to shoot with, in addition you are always there for help with The Lake County Pistoleros website and helping us promote our match and our sport, thanks cowboy!
March 9, 2021
The Outlaw Travis James
Thank you for the kind words. Any time tou need help just ask. Thanks for all you do as well.
March 9, 2021
The Outlaw Travis James
Here is the link to the "Shoot Your Game" blog. If anyone is interested in reading it. I have changed my pre-stage routine a bit since I wrote this and it is much more effective. But that will be a subject for a future blog. View More
March 9, 2021