Mounted shooting at the Denver Horse Expo
What could be more fun than dressing up in costume, riding fast horses, and shooting guns? Well, that is what the team of mounted shooters from the M lazy C Ranch located at Lake George, Colorado, got to do at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo.
Randy Myers, owner of the M Lazy C Ranch brought his famous Mounted Shooting Team to The National Western Stock Show complex for an exiting Wild West Show that featured guns, action, bull whips, and plenty of pyrotechnics.
Known for inviting their guest ranch visitors to “step into the boots of a cowboy,” the folks at the M Lazy C are not your average local neighborhood show-offs. They share the secrets of ranch skills with television audiences on CMT’s “Cowboy U Colorado” and perform mounted shooting, bullwhip artistry, and old-time re-enactments at rodeos and other events throughout the country. In 2002, the M Lazy C team thrilled millions live and on screen with their Wild West Show at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
I was very impressed by the preparation that went into the show. This was no ‘seat of the pants’ operation. Ranch Manager, Jim Pavlich was very helpful to me regarding what was going to transpire during the show. In order for me to get the best position for my photographs, Jim went over the operating procedures with me. There were seven highly detailed sheets, one for each skit. They showed support personnel placement, riding patterns, balloon types and placement, and timing.
Some of the balloons were filled with compressed air and others were filled with a proprietary mixture of explosive gas. These when shot, went up in a fiery display.
Safety was always at the forefront. Unloaded guns were tightly controlled until participants were ready to go into the arena. Loading of the weapons was carefully supervised by an individual assigned only to that task. Fired weapons were returned to him and he made sure that each weapon was empty and ‘safe’.
It takes about five or six months to train horses for mounted shooting. They start out teaching horse the patterns to run. Once they’re familiar with that, they start to integrate the shooting. As you can imagine, the horses react to the shooting on an individual basis. For some of the horses, they consider the shooting to be no big deal and others take much longer to adapt. Earplugs are available for the horses which deaden the noise.
Cowboy mounted shooting is one of the nation’s fastest growing equestrian sports. Mounted contestants compete in this fast action, timed event using two .45 caliber single action revolvers, each loaded with five rounds of specially prepared, black powder, blank ammunition which has a range of about ten feet. During the Wild West Show, they also use rifles. All weapons must be unmodified period area replicas. Clothing is also patterned after 1800’s western clothing. There is a thriving cottage industry supplying clothing to Cowboy Action shooters but, many like Cora Strickland from Pueblo, Colorado take great pride in making their own, “I use nothing but period type materials such as 100 percent cotton, and satins and silk. I make the outfits from patterns used in the 1800’s”.
Outfitted with western clothing and weapons, participants will adopt a character or persona from the 1800’s. Marylou li Puma, a banker from Breckenridge, Colorado and her real life husband Jerry, perform as Annie Oakley and husband Frank Butler. They do modifications of some of Annie’s famous tricks such as hitting a target behind her while looking in a mirror.
The sport of mounted shooting is enjoyed by young and old alike. Consider 16-year-old Stormy Walters, from Byers, Colorado, who started cowboy action shooting at eight years old. She got interested in the sport after watching her father, a national level contender, compete. Now, an eight year veteran, Stormy is a challenger in her own right. She was the Pewee Champion at the Colorado Regionals and also the Colorado State Champion for the last two years.
The M Lazy C Ranch and their team of mounted shooters put on a wonderful show. It was fast, colorful, and very entertaining to the crowds at the Denver Horse Expo. If you missed them in Denver, you have two more opportunities to see them perform at the Horse Expos in Vail and Durango. You can get more information and dates on their webpage, http://www.mlazyc.com.
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