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by on February 15, 2022


Branchwater Jack

Where do you live? (what state or country)

Huntsville, AL

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

In 2006, I was laid off from my job. Pretty much immediately, I went back to school to get my Master's. In the mid 2000s, I was reading SHOOT! magazine and thoroughly became hooked on the idea of Cowboy Action Shooting. About halfway through my schooling, I decided that, after graduation, I would gift myself a set of pistols. I graduated in 2008, but it was 2010 when I finally got around to getting the pistols. It was also our 10th wedding anniversary in May of that year, so my wife bought me the rifle as a gift. I started shooting the next month filling out the rest of my needs with borrowed equipment and never looked back.

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

I showed up to Wartrace for my first time on a work day. I was paired up with a friendly, Yoda-like figure, Papa Dave, and we went about the process of building a couple of fences to cut down on splatter. I say he was like Yoda because he was so very wise, so smooth. He would always feed me little nuggets to help me get better. He was also very consistent. So much so that I had my 'Papa Dave Factor' to chart my progress as a shooter. I would take Dave's score, multiply it by the Papa Dave Factor. If my time was better than that, I was improving. Improve enough, you make the Papa Dave Factor smaller. Soon, a traveling group from Wartrace invited me to go to a different state match with them. Randy Saint Eagle and Buck Dodgers were also on that trip. I learned more from them in that one weekend...pretty much everything one could learn

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

With components the way they are now, not nearly enough. Before, We would shoot matches twice a month and have a live-fire practice afternoon about two or three times a year. Those practice afternoons would burn up a couple of ammo cans full of ammo. I was also dry-fire practicing at least twice a week. Was shooting about 10,000 rounds or so a year. With schedules now, I am lucky to get dry-fire in twice a month now. And with my schedule and components the way they are, I only shot about 3 or 4,000 rounds last year.

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

I was the Overall and match winner at the Alabama State Blackpowder Championship back in 2018. I have several category wins at the state and regional level.

Tell us about your most memorable match:

In 2016, a long-time cowboy, Bama Red, announced that he was going to shoot his last match before hanging up his guns. Cancer had started to take its toll on Red and doctors told him that he did not have much time left. Bound to a wheelchair, I was fortunate enough to TO red through most of that match. With his family there and all of us cheering him on, I struggled at times to keep his chair from rolling around under the force of recoil from his heavy black powder loads. We lost Red two weeks to the day after that match, but I would not trade any of it for the world.

Click here more videos including The Fireing Line Videos from Branchwater Jack.

What is your favorite aspect of CAS?

I like the chance to compete against myself. So much of this game is out of our control. Once you realize that your outcome in the match can be determined by three people who cannot see, nor hear anything...and they may not even be on your posse...your perspective changes. It did for me at least. I want to go out there and perform at the peak of my potential every time. I do that, I'm happy, no matter the outcomes.

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

Jack was my grandfather's name. It also happens to be one of the things that you could mix with branchwater, although you would probably order a bourbon and branchwater.

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

I'll travel with anyone that will travel with me. Starting out, there were several folks From Wartrace that I would travel with. Then, as my wife and son started shooting, they were great travel partners, even if Belle some times hogged the bed! Lately, Barkeep Casey and I have traveled some together. Barkeep and I have also documented our travels together for a couple of videos on YouTube!

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

Wartrace has always been home for me. There is something about that place that, even though it has changed over the years, still makes folks want to keep coming back year after year.

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

When I started, I was shooting in the Classic Cowboy category. I was shooting black powder pistol and rifle but smokeless shotgun. Did that until I secured a shotgun press so I could load my own BP shotshells and switched to frontier cartridge duelist. This whole time, I was shooting in the duelist style with my strong hand. After about a year of that, I switched to shooting in the double duelist style. Once I got better with the off hand, I switched to shooting in the Gunfighter style. This was 2013 and Frontier Cartridge Gunfighter was not an official category, so I bounced around a bit usually shooting FCGF monthly and FCD at major matches if FCGF was not offered. By mid 2014, it was FCGF all the time. I will shoot smokeless, if I have to. But some times it is kind of hard to find the fun in that!

What is you posse job of choice?

A lot of major shoots I am volunteered to be a posse marshal. The way I run a posse, I float - constantly taking a job from someone and sending them to the loading table to shoot. It gives me a chance to interact with everyone and also to do a lot of jobs. It also keeps the posse moving. At monthly matches, I like to watch a lot. Some times from the unloading table, some times as a spotter. I'll also end up running the timer some, but I won't twist anyone's arm to do it.

What is the time of your fastest clean stage?

I have shot a couple of 10-10-4s in the teens, but I am average low 20's.

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

Papa Dave always said that 'shooth is fast.' He was right then, and it is still great advice now.

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

remember to have fun. I remember one time a feller gave a bunch of doctors some good advice: Pull down your pants and slide on the ice. It was great advice then and it still holds true now!

What keeps you playing this game?

I enjoy giving back to the game. For the past several years I have had the opportunity to be the stage writer for the North Alabama Regulators. It has given me the opportunity to write and set up 12 monthly and 2 annual matches each year. It is my hope that folks have enjoyed each and every one of those shoots.

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

I definitely do not need another hobby. I am still full-time employed, raising a teenager, and wishing I still had more time to watch him grow. This is our last year taking him to hockey rinks several times a week, but I wouldn't trade any of it. I make some noise on a six-string and dabble with a lot of different stuff. I used to make all our costuming and still sew up some things every now and then.

Like (7)
Razorback Red
Great interview! Can’t wait to join you down in Wartrace again. Great place.
February 15, 2022
Heckler Hinge
  I'm really sorry, Mister, I just could not resist !  
February 16, 2022