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Firewater Bandit
by on June 4, 2019

Sticking with Florida's recent theme of "hotter than hell-fire," Hale and I found a similar environment in Valdosta this past weekend, and that carried through with the manner in which each of the thirteen shooters that were there approached the stages. As many of you know, Hale and I are going to be shooting Black Gold in Kentucky this summer, and competing with a group like the Valdosta crew was certainly great practice for the match. All of the stages were either copies or variants of stages that were shot at Georgia State, which was wonderful because Hale and I were not able to make that match this year. Nevertheless, Goliath and his crew helped recreate this awesomeness, and I couldn't be more grateful.

I started on stage one with what I am good at: a good old fashioned miss with the pistols, and I went for something a little extra: a P! There is truly nothing quite like turning a twenty-second stage into a thirty-five-second stage. So, after taking a self-chastising walk to the cooler for a round of bottled water, I was able to come back and only have one more miss the rest of the day. And, of course, that final miss was the last shot of stage six, and wouldn't you know it, it was with my pistols. As I mentioned in my last posting, I just had new sights put on my pistols, which have reduced my pistol misses considerably, but I am still getting rogue bullets that just want to bury their head in the dirt like an ostrich, so I guess I can't just blame the sights anymore. There are times in our lives where we must be honest with ourselves, and my coming to Jesus moment came after the match in the form of me telling myself, "Damnit, man! Sight-picture!"

Other than the shooting - which, as we all know, is only half of the reason why we all do this wonderful sport - it was good to shoot with some of my favorite cowboys and cowgirls. It was good to see Goliath again, and, as always, his dry humor was welcome during a day of being soaked by our own sweat. I carried a bench from stage to stage so that people would have a place to sit in front of the fans, but he actually claimed, with that notorious Goliath half-smile, that someone gave him that as a stool. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell if it was tears or sweat in my eyes because I was laughing so hard. It had been quite some time since I had the pleasure of shooting with Light Load, and he kept me very entertained at the shooting table. It is hard sometimes to really know how much progress you have made as a shooter, and it is nice when someone hasn't seen you shoot in a while and can tell you what improvements you've made. On that same note, it is also nice to know what mistakes you are still making, and Light Load did a great job of opening my eyes to the truth. J Bird Blue was there, and it was good to see him. It has been way too long since we have shot together, and it was good to catch up. Pearly Heart was there and she dragged that no-good dad of hers to the shoot with her. I mean, she has taught him all she knows, but the guy still can't seem to hit the targets... Yeah, I know no one is believing that. It was absolutely wonderful to shoot with Christian and Pearly both. Christian is a great double shooter and has helped me with my double shooting considerably. I mean, one lesson from him shaved off a second and a half on my shotgun, I'd say he got my attention. Pearly also came to the rescue with Hale and braided her hair because Hale had lost her hair-tie and was attempting to shoot with that golden mane flowing in her face. That girl always did love a challenge. Wabash Valley Slim was there, and as usual, he brought that usual I-don't-care-but-I-care-and-I-will-whoop-your-butt attitude. I was impressed by both his and Big Country's handling of their '97s. As I described it, it looked like they had a stick of butter hiding under their pumps. Very smooth work, gentlemen. Shananagans was there, as well, and shooting her second match ever. I have to say that I am very proud of her for not falling to the wily temptation of the '97 and getting herself a rocking double-barrel. She is still shaking the beginner's jitters, but she has a great coach and a great attitude. I don't doubt that she will be a competent shooter in no time. Bucky Buckskin made it to the match and had a "rough day" for him, but he still managed to kick my butt. As Cassalong Hopidy said, "That man's gotten faster than blue-blazes." I would agree. And on that note, Cass made his way over from Tallahassee and shot some awesome stages as a gunfighter. It has been since Florida State since I have seen him, so it was good to catch up. Cass and I have shot together before, but it has been a long time since we have shot on the same posse, and it was really nice to get a chance to shoot the breeze (and some steel) with him. And, last but not least, Little Dead Drewster was there, and he beat me again. At this point, I think we are taking turns. He got me at Cowford, I got him at Gainesville, and He got me at Valdosta. I guess I will have to bring my game to Ft. White next week so we can keep this trend going!

Hale and I left the range feeling hot but very content with the great stages that we had the opportunity to shoot. We made a trip of this weekend and got a hotel room in Valdosta where we stayed while we went to Wild Adventures for a couple of days. The rides were fun, and it was a good way to kick off Hale's summer away from teaching high schoolers, but nothing compared to the wild ride that was the Valdosta Vigilance Committee.

I just want to thank everyone who was there for all the support and fun. Cowboys truly are a giving group, aren't they? Whether they give you guidance or guns or laughter or even the shirt off their back (which there wouldn't be even a question or hesitation), cowboys are a special breed with a tradition dating back as far as kindness and generosity have existed. In the words of the great John Wayne, "Every man's got to have a code, a creed to live by." For many in the world, greed, envy, wrath, and other deadly sins is the creed, but, for cowboys, passion, discipline, and benevolence goes hand in hand with drawing pistols. This game is not a game, but a way of life that goes beyond steel and holsters. I feel simply proud and fortunate to have found this wonderful world of Cowboy Action Shooting.

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