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The Outlaw Travis James
by on January 24, 2022

Now that the smoke has somewhat settled and I have had a little time to decompress, I would like to share my thoughts on this past weekend's Annual Match.  This was the first time I had been so heavily involved in planning and hosting a match this big.  Let me tell you what, I learned a lot of lessons!





Polecat Joe, Chickie, and I started the planning for this match way back around the end of May ’21.  We had a down year in attendance in 2021 and we were determined to have a good showing this time around.   We had 32 more shooters register this year than last and beat our previous high by 14 shooters for a total of 85 registrants!  This may not sound like big numbers but for a one-day Annual with the specific logistical challenges we face with the OK Corral Gun Club, these are huge! 

The first thing Polecat Joe did was decide on a theme, Tombstone.  Which, for obvious reasons, we have done a time or two.  So, I wanted to write the starting lines and positions so we did not keep doing the same ole same ole.  He agreed and I began watching the movie with an eye for different starting lines than are typically used.  I steered away from all Wyatt and Doc starting lines because they have been used ad nauseum.   I focused on scenes that people would recognize once they heard the lines but not ones that would jump right out at you when thinking about the movie.  I also wanted the starting positions to correlate with the movie scenes from which the lines came. 

Once we agreed on the lines, I started to brainstorm what props we could use to enhance the lines and positions.  For me, the biggest difference (besides the number of stages shot) in monthlies and annuals is the use of props.  It is a lot of extra work to use props, so it is tough to use them for monthly matches.  I recruited help in attaining and crafting the props and can’t thank these folks enough for their contributions.


Realtree crafted a beautiful wooden knife from 100-year-old cypress as a prop and Moog added some Outlaws flare to it.  After I set the prop out for the Posse Marshal walk-through, I did not go back to check on it again. 

As I was walking around, I noticed the posse shooting that stage was using a piece of junk wood as the prop.  I inquired as to where the knife was, and they said it was never there.  I asked around the other posses and all said the same thing.  I walked the entire cowboy town at the range and looked for it but could not find it.  About 10 minutes later, Amaduelist walks up and hands me the knife.  When I asked him where he found it, he said on the registration table.  I was dumbfounded because I had looked everywhere over there and it wasn’t anywhere to be found.  Oh well, I thought, at least we had it to raffle off at the end of the match. 

The covered wagon was a prop I built for the Spaghetti Western match up at Fort White and we decided to use it again, although in a different way.  We shoot through the wagon with our rifles which added a little more dimension to the target array.  I like to think it added a nice touch to an already prop-rich stage.

We mounted a pool cue to the outside of the church and started gripping it with both hands.  It was set off to the right of a window that had to be pushed open before engaging the pistol targets.  Just something a little out of the ordinary for us and give the stage a little more interest.

We also used a pair of reins courtesy of Bucky Buckskin and Tilly Two Spurs.  The gun order was rifle not last with pistols and rifle shot from the left window and shotgun from the right window.  I placed them farther to the right of the stage to influence the shooters to run the shorter distance to their shotgun and start there.  But I think most of our posse still went to their pistols or rifle first so they could move to their shotgun from the strong side.  Again, just something else to think about before putting your stage plan together.

We made a sign that said, “No Guns In Town” and mounted it next to the pistol firing position window.  You had to start with one hand on the sign and the other pantomiming hammering up the sign saying, “That’s not so bad, is it?”  I gave the choice to start on either side of the window to give lefties and righties a fair shake.  Most of us choose to start on the right so we didn’t have to move as far to run to the next shooting position.

We also mounted two sets of free-standing saloon doors that we had to push open and run through to shoot pistols and then long guns.  Again, it added another dimension to think about in your stage plan.  It also made you think I little bit about the angle you took going to the firing positions.

The scoring was easy with the iPads and the use of the CAS Scoring App but there were several things we were dealing with during the match.  The batteries did not want to stay charged, even though I had them all hooked up to external batteries.  They all made it through the match, one just barely.  When we synced all the iPads, one of them would not sync the last 4 stages that were shot, so JP Law and I had to manually enter them.  It caused us to run a bit late getting started with the scores, but we got it figured out.

The weather was very chilly and humid.  It sprinkled on us early a couple of times but nothing major.  There was a good deal of wind, which I am sure the black powder shooters appreciated.  Overcast skies throughout made it a dreary day but everyone seemed to take it in stride.  I, for one, was glad the skies did not open up on us and just threatened to.

We went a little too long on total time on the range.  We moved the lunch from between the first four and last four stages to the end of the match hoping this would help, but it didn’t.  We are limited to having only 4 posses because of the stage layout.  We allowed 18 people per posse so we could have more shooters, but it seemed these were a little too large and drug the average stage times to around 35 minutes from the first shooters' score entered to the last.  Most posses were about the same in this regard.  We still have some figuring out to do with moving the match along.  I don’t want to limit the number of shooters to 64 (16 per posse) and would like to figure out a way to add more shooters. But this will take some thinking on our parts to come up with a viable solution.

The awards and raffle went smooth with only a few hiccups.  The way we have done the awards the past few years makes it difficult to organize everything so we can give them out in a timely manner.  This will also take some tweaking, but I think we are on the right track.

As far as my shooting, I can say this was the most difficult match I have shot to date regarding my mental focus.  I am used to shooting early and not having to worry about too much distraction pre-stage.  But with being the range master, scoring coordinator, prop master, and the many other hats I was wearing all day; it was very difficult to put all of that out of my mind and shoot my stages.  I excel at multitasking, but this was another level.  I learned a lot about the importance of being able to clear my mind and just shoot the stage in front of me.  I hope to be able to achieve a level of mental focus akin to Santa Fe River Stan who has run state level matches and still was able to win overall.  In my book, a true champion can win no matter what is going on in the peripheral.  I am a long way away from that, but this was my first go around and the lessons I learned will surely carry forward.

We did something I have wanted to do for some time now.  We sponsored a stage at this match.  It felt like SASS Florida had finally come full circle from the virtual world to the real world.  And I couldn’t help but look at the SASS Florida banner hanging there with a huge grin.  I may have pointed it out a few too many times, but hey, I  was excited for it to have finally happened. 

My only regret with the whole event was that I was so busy, I did not get to chat with far too many of the attendees.  This is my favorite part of any big match.  Getting to catch up with friends I don’t get to see often and meeting new folks.  The social aspect of our game is second to none, in my opinion, and I truly enjoy the times after the shooting more than the actual shooting.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to shoot my cowboy guns, but I enjoy shooting the cowboy breeze just a bit more.  To anyone I was unable to speak to at the Shootout, I hope to catch up with you very soon.  Please accept my sincere apology, it wasn’t intentional.  I want to personally thank everyone who attended and helped out in any way.  You are the reason we volunteer our time.  And seeing so many smiles and hearing all the laughter made the work worth the while.

Today, we start the prepping for A Dark Day on the Santa Fe coming up this weekend.  I can’t wait!  And now that we live just one mile from the Fort White Gun Club, it is going to be even more special.  Oh, how I love this game!!!

Until we meet again,

Happy Trails...



Like (14)
Sounds like it was a great match, Congratulations everyone!
January 25, 2022
The Outlaw Travis James
Thanks EZ, we hope to see you down there next year.
January 25, 2022