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          Front Page




Shooting Competition Offers Chance To Play Cowboy for A Day

By Nathan Tafoya/
Associated Press
      At the end of a round of cowboy-action shooting, Manuel Austin stood in dusty boots next to his mustang.
    His brown leather chaps were accented by a stocked cartridge belt and the twin white handles of his nickel-plated Colt .45-caliber revolvers.
    Austin had a problem real cowboys never had. He lost the keys to his mustang_ his Ford Mustang.
    Austin came a long way to join other Old West enthusiasts for a weekend of cowboy-action shooting competitions in Edgewood.
    "I was on leave from Iraq, and I came out here just for this,'' he said, nodding to tents and shooting targets.
    Austin, a civilian contractor and operations coordinator for Halliburton in Baghdad, took part of a 15-day leave to drive from Los Angeles for the first annual Founders Ranch Invitational Shoot and Cowboy Silhouette Championship.
    And yes, he eventually found his keys lying on some hay.
    For greenhorns in the world of Old West revival, cowboy-action shooting involves donning period costumes, assuming a persona and taking part in shooting matches.
    Founders Ranch, about 20 miles east of Albuquerque, was created in 2004 by the Single-Action Shooting Society as a home for such events.
    In June, a crowd of about 150 registered shootin' cowboys and gals, along with about 200 spectators, showed up at the fund-raising shootout, said Ken Amorosano, the society's marketing director. The event raised $10,000 toward the construction of a western-style town on the 480-acre ranch.
    The western get-ups took some getting used to for Moriarty's Dewey Severs, a vendor who was introduced to the society in April at another event.
    "When I first came here, I said: `Honey, it looks like a box of Post Toasties fell over. There are flakes everywhere,' " Severs recalled.
    He said his society badge number, 65,254, shows he's one of the newest "flakes'' in the 65,000-plus member organization.
    The goal, Amorosano said, is to preserve the spirit and traditions of the Old West.
    "I think it's impressive, and not only that, it's working,'' said Amorosano. "People really want to preserve the American West through this event. It would be a shame if those things were destroyed and forgotten.''
    Moving the society's ranch from California to New Mexico has been good for this state, Amorosano added, with millions of dollars in economic impact.
    Food, entertainment and shopping at the society's festivals are family oriented. While live ammunition is used for some shooting events, Austin said members work as a community to correct any behavior that appears unsafe.
    The weekend, he said, was a blast. Austin's 9-year-old son, Garrett, agreed.
    Garrett said his favorite moments were his dad's shooting and "picking up brass,'' or collecting spent cartridges for shooters who reload their own rounds.
    "I got $50 off it,'' Garrett said.
    Jim Hollmann and his 11-year-old daughter, Kathy, competed in the mounted shooting competitions.
    Hollmann won third place in the beginning men's division.
    Kathy, he said, is the society's 2005 Mounted Girls Buckaroo World Champion.
    "We enjoy it,'' Hollmann said. "It's a family sport, and it's important for families to do enjoyable things together.''