Monday, May 29, 2006

Up The Hill

We got up early, like six AM and drove up the hill, almost to Prescott. It's an interesting drive, from Phoenix it's uphill all the way. It was a pretty morning and the road was full of motorcyclists, getting some sun and air. The road from Wickenberg to Prescott goes through some steep mountains and the temp was some twenty-five degrees cooler up there than in Phoenix and the rest of the Valley of the Sun. We got to the range, the feller that wrote the directions was just about exactly right, in about two hours from leaving the house.

The Cowboy Club, the High Country Cowboys shares the range with an IPSC outfit so the shooting bays are more set up for the autoloader boys than us, it works pretty well, though. This outfit runs it's shoots a little different than my home club, it has smaller posses for one thing. Still, it was close enough to what I'm used to that I was not lost. The slope was steeper and the range more spread out, I thought I was going to have a heart attack dragging my gun cart back to the car.

At the shooters meeting, before the Pledge of Allegiance, we had a moment of silence for Memorial Day. Then we broke into the posses and got started. The shoot started really well, I shot the first two stages clean, meaning no misses. I'm still slow, there is no hope for that, not after the stroke, but I am pretty accurate. The third stage, though, was my downfall. It had the first Texas Star I have ever seen, much less shot at. The Texas Star is an interesting target, a large, five pointed star. At each point is a six inch steel circle. You hit the circle, it falls off the star. Then the star starts to spin, it then slows and stops, until the next circle is shot off, the star spins some more, etc. There were more than a couple ugly words used during this stage. Worse, this wqas the firt time this club had ever used the Texas Star with only five shots to remove all five "points" There were two other targets for the second handgun. Needless to say, there went my clean match. The Texas Star is not a real common target yet, they are very expensive, for one thing. The difficulty makes them sort of unpopular, too. I have somewhat mixed emotions, myself. I think a few practice sessions and I would be able to hold my own on one. It would take a little practice before I got used to the spinning. So, three misses.

Worse, this was my first shoot wearing the new leather and I "missed the bucket". I went to put my left hand gun in the new holster and missed. A dropped empty gun is a stage disqualification so, instead of three misses, I had a complete blank. That is no way to win the Cadillac. It could have been worse, a dropped loaded gun is a match DQ. I knew to look the gun into the holster, I was trying to figure out if I could salvage a decent score.

With the exception of that dropped gun, the rest of the match went well, five clean stages. It was not easy shooting those last three and kicking myself at the same time. I did not kick myself too hard, it is a common happening, dropping a shootin' iron. Having to draw and reholster two revolvers, plus having to handle two long guns through six different stages in a one day shoot gives plenty of chances to screw the pooch.

This was my first (Cowboy Action) shoot away from home, there were a couple of differences. For one thing the Arizona air is a whole lot drier than that of northeast Texas. This makes a huge difference with black powder, there was very little smoke. I am used to big clouds, except for the smell and the BOOM! instead of the bang I wouldn't have known I was shootin' the Holy Black. There is no mistaking that smell, though. Note to those not familiar with Black Powder...the more humidity, the more smoke, if you want huge clouds, shoot in the rain.

I don't know how much the altitude affected me, I could blame droppin' the gun on that but it seems I don't really need altitude for doing something stupid. I will blame the altitude on the trouble I had dragging the guncart. I was really dragging by the end of the match.

I regret not having the right software installed on this little vacation laptop as I have a whole passel o' pictures, I really want to show my new leather. The irons came out of the holsters like they had rockets attatched. There is no fast draw connected with SASS shooting but these holsters are downright quick.

Well, we won't be leaving Phoenix until Sunday, then we will enter the People's Republic of California for a month. Be still my beating heart.

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