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Firewater Bandit
by on June 17, 2019

Saturday morning was too dark and just a bit hazy for me, so I enjoyed a nice nap on the way to Eustis, courtesy of my better half, Midwest Hale. This cowboy spent a little too much time in the saloon the night before, and my other alias, Last Call, came out to play. I did awake in time to enjoy spotting some white tails while riding through the Ocala National Forest, and the sunrise over the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area was quite stunning.

What a beautiful day for shooting, I thought as Hale and I rolled past the sliding gate entrance to the Eustis Gun Club, and little did I know how true that statement would be. Six stages set up under plenty of shade with scenarios to make you think and move -  I tell you, Smart * had me excited to ring some steel, but I was even more excited by just how many shooters had come out to do so with me. Thirty-Six of my favorite people rolled their carts into the bays, and there wasn't a target left standing when we were done.

In some cases, quite literally. The buffalo's neighboring target fell from its stand after Pink started his rifle run on stage four. The consensus was that we give him a re-shoot because he still had his pistols to shoot and the missing target made the run difficult. Pink flashed a grin under that notorious mustache and came back with a better run overall.

Speaking of stage four, there was a new rifle pattern that Smart * was surely using his noggin while creating. Engage five side-by-side targets in three sweeps of three, starting on target one then two then three, then placing the tenth round on target one. I know, this had me scratching my head at first, as well, but after I figured out my pistol transitions, the pattern was awesome and had everyone talking about something that no one had ever seen before.

So, here comes the part where I tell you about my shooting, and, let me tell you, the day may have been a great day for shooting, but my hands sure didn't agree. Three "P's." I'll just go ahead and admit it. That's right, three. I tell you, I might have let my shooting debacle influence my mood if it hadn't been for my good buddies keeping me talking and having a good time. In fact, I thought about it later and I made the grave mistake of chatting too much at the loading table. I guess I will have to start limiting my socializing to before the loading table and after the unloading table - a lesson that Arcadia Outlaw taught me a long time ago, which, for those of you who know Arcadia, is probably why I screwed up because I spent a good amount of time talking to him at the loading table.

On stage six, I had another disaster, and it was my big talk that got me. There were three pistol knockdowns at the first table, and all the shotgun knockdowns were at the second table. You were given the option to have the shotgun at table one and take it with you where you would have to place it down and shoot the rifle first, or just have it staged at the second table. The trick was that if you had the shotgun staged at the second table, then you had to go back to the first to make up any missed knockdowns. Rooster Ray got me fired up that I would attack those first targets like a pro and had me so convinced that I didn't even consider the fact that I would miss. Well, I did, and I had to look at the stage as good shotgun practice after that. Fortunately, Ray did the same thing, so we have that one together, buddy.

Though I am sad that Hale and I were not able to make it out to End of Trail this year, I am glad that I was able to shoot with Moog, Madame Moog, and Shelleen before they headed that way. After watching them shoot, I know they are going to go represent Florida well. Shelleen threw down a pretty impressive run on stage four, first moving downrange and then across the berm in seventeen seconds. I tell you, he was attacking those targets aggressively, and it showed in his time. Moog shot well, too but had some mechanical issues with his shotgun where it wasn't closing properly. Looks like Fast Eddie will be getting a call before EOT.

The scores came, and the deep nagging feeling of failure was revealed true when I saw what place my sixty seconds of penalties got me, but I was still very proud when Hale took top lady overall. Often, people tell us that the ride home after one of us beating the other will be a rough one, but this is simply not true. Nothing in this sport makes me happier than that I get to do it with Hale, and I like that we keep each other on our toes competitively.

Congratulations are also in order to my good friend, Delta Glen. He hadn't been to Eustis in quite some time, and, wouldn't you know it, he brought that elusive winner's spirit with him. It was fun knocking pints with him afterward in celebration of his victory overall.

As is becoming the tradition after our shoots, a bunch of the cowboys and cowgirls went to lunch, and this week we went to Hurricanes there off of Route 441. I tell you, this place was pretty cool, and if it hadn't been so hot, we would have enjoyed the spacious outdoor deck that overlooks the Dead River and Lake Eustis. Alas, we found ourselves in comfortable A/C and some of us ordered beer while others ordered sweet tea, but the cowboys clanked mugs regardless in celebration of another great day at the range.  Of course, Delta Glen and Midwest Hale were congratulated for their wins, but we spent time congratulating ourselves for another successful adventure in Cowboy Action Shooting. We shared a basket of fried pickles, which I am discovering is a cowboy staple at every lunch, and slapped each other's backs while fantasizing about shoots to come, and I went home with a smile that didn't leave my face until the cowboy high wore off.

On my way home, we passed a beautiful Golden Rain Tree that was in the middle of blooming, and I was reminded of something that Madame Moog mentioned during one of the stages. She stated that our gun carts are our homes while on the range. Like the tree, this was such a wonderful and thought-provoking thing to say, for when we are away from our houses and we find ourselves on the range, we are there to test ourselves, push ourselves to the limit, and congregate with others that share our passion. While I was up on the water cooler table taking the picture of our posse for this blog, I  couldn't help but notice how our carts were, in fact, our homes, and all of our houses were next to our friend's houses, and we all have guns, and I couldn't help but think that this is not only the safest neighborhood around but also one of the best in the world. Who else can say they get a chance to sing Home, Home on the Range with their pals every week?

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Like (9)
The Outlaw Travis James
And don't feel too bad about all your P's. I had a total of 5 this weekend. It happens sometimes I guess...
June 17, 2019
Nice blog. And I called Fast Eddie from the range.
June 17, 2019
Thanks my friend for that blazing as usual story of the life and times of our Pards! Please keep it coming and until we meet again on the trail....... “Just Shoot”!
June 18, 2019
Arcadia Outlaw
I really like the posse picture
June 19, 2019
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The Outlaw Travis James
When I first saw it I was like "I didn't see a drone at the range." hahaha
June 20, 2019