On October 2nd, 2016, the Cowboy Fast Draw Association (CFDA) crowned their new World Champions. Approximately 250 competitors from across the U.S., Canada, and Europe traveled to Fallon, Nevada to compete in CFDA’s Signature Event, The Fastest Gun Alive – World Championship of Cowboy Fast Draw.
T.J. Vonfedlt a.k.a. Oregon Ranger, of Portland, OR, age 19, won his third Fastest Gun Alive – Men’s Overall World Championship by being the first repeat men’s champion in the sport’s history. He also made history in 2011 by winning the men’s overall championship at age, 14, which was covered by the Outdoor Channel’s, Shooting U.S.A. T.J. earned the Top Seed in the Magnificent 7 Finals in the regular rounds of the tournament and held off all challengers. He finally defeated last year’s Top Seed, Clay Janes a.k.a. Tin Bender of Caldwell, ID in the best 3 out of 5 final bout, with a time of .335, slightly over 1/3 of a second.
Jennifer Guerra a.k.a. Kiss-N-Tell, of Alta Loma, CA, won her first Fastest Gun Alive – Ladies’ Overall World Championship. She defeated the current Ladies National Champion Jamie Damrel a.k.a. Plain Jane of Vidor, TX in the final round with a .475, or just under ½ second. About 1/3 of CFDA’s members are women.
In the Youth Division, Michael Dobbins a.k.a. Blind Billy, of Powhatan, VA, defeated current National Youth Champion Jayden Eilrich a.k.a. Sheriff Rango of Fernley, NV with a final shot of .532.
In the Sport of Cowboy Fast Draw, authentic reproductions Colt .45 SAA six-guns are used with 1800’s period-correct leather holsters. Special wax bullet ammunition is used where the wax bullets are actually achieving the same velocity as live ammunition, but are stopped dead in their tracks by nothing more than archery netting. Digital electronic timers are used which illuminate LED start signals at the center of each target, from which the shooters react to their start light, draw, fire, and if their wax bullet strikes the target a time is recorded that is accurate to within 1/1000ths of a second. Firearms are never pointed at another person, instead the shooters stand side by side and face the 24 inch round-targets placed 24 feet downrange.
The format of the man vs man elimination tournament is managed by the CFDA Computer Scoring System, which draws the bouts and pairs the one on one match-ups by luck of the draw throughout the regular rounds of the tournament. In each round, the first of the two matched competitors to win 3 shots against their opponent wins that round and the defeated opponent receives an “X”, when a competitor receives 4-X’s they are eliminated from the tournament. Once the tournament is down to the Top 7 men, ladies, and youth on Saturday, they are seeded into a unique double-progressive elimination final format called, The Magnificent 7 Finals which begin at High Noon on Sunday, with hundreds of spectators cheering for their favorites.
Safety is always first! CFDA has a Youth Safety Training Program (begins at age 8) and a CFDA Range Officer Certification Program. One of the organization’s primary goals, “To educate as many people as possible in the safe and proper use of firearms.” CFDA is an NRA Affiliated Organization and has almost 5,000 members joining in the fun and thrill of the competition that is based upon, “The Romance and Legend of the Old West”. Members dress in western-themed clothing and adopt an alias which they compete under in the spirit of the old west. About 80 CFDA Affiliated Clubs exist coast to coast in the U.S. and are speading to Canada, Europe, Australia, and even Japan. CFDA was founded in Deadwood, SD and moved its annual world championship to Fallon, NV in 2008, and is sponsored by the Fallon Tourism & Convention Authority. Also among their major sponsors are Ruger Firearms, Pietta of Italy, Taylor’s & Co., and Mernickle Holsters.
For more information please go to: www.CowboyFastDraw.com or write to Cowboy Fast Draw Association – P.O. Box 5 – Fernley, NV 89408
The American Shooting Journal spends a lot of time with different products and one of the things we do is look to our readers for the latest greatest guns and gear out there. One of the names that kept coming up over and over … and over and … you get the idea, is Savoy Leather holsters. What surprised us the most was that people from all facets of the shooting industry favor these holsters: tactical gurus, CCW carriers, cowboys, hunters and some who fit all of these categories. It is not often we find a product that seems to be equally coveted across such different groups. Savoy Leather falls into that category and we needed to know who these people were and how they did it. I reached out to Jeremiah Savoy who was nice enough to share a few of their eastern Oklahoman secrets. You’ll need to fill out some documentation before we disclose this classified information, but go ahead, it’s worth it. We will wait.
American Shooting Journal Who founded and owns Savoy Leather?
Jeremiah Savoy My wife Jerri and me. I am the president and she is the vice president.
ASJ So it’s a family business. Can you tell us a little bit more about your backgrounds, where you came from and how you became interested in firearms?
JS I was raised in south Louisiana and spent most of my life there. In 2013, my wife and I moved to Oklahoma where we thought we would have a better opportunity to grow our business. We chose Weleetka, where Jerri had previously enjoyed living.
ASJ This is my favorite question to ask: What was the spark that eventually started Savoy Leather? Many people have a great ideas, but those who take the steps to make them happen, well, these people are driven. Why were you and Jerri so passionate about doing this?
JS I felt I needed to focus a bit more. I was filling my time with random activities and wanted a new hobby. For my birthday one year, Jerri gave me a set of leather tools and some blank leather. I started making all kinds of things. The more I created, the better I became – people started requesting things. At first, I would just purchase more tools and give everything away. At that time things were financially tough. One day Jerri nudged me and said I would have to either slow my hobby down or start selling my creations. And so began our leather business.
ASJ Sometimes we do not realize the number of folks it takes to put out great products, and for so many nationwide. Who makes up the team at Savoy Leather, and why have you chosen them?
JS Well, Jerri and I work at the shop every day, and there are currently nine other full-time employees with us. They are all local folks from the Weleetka area. We are trying to help this little town come back to life and employing them is the first step. We are trying to create an atmosphere where people love to work and enjoy creating heirloom-quality products. Our motto is “Let our family create an heirloom-quality product for yours.”
ASJ In all of the designs you have, Savoy Leather offers a lot of patriotic styles. Were you in the military?
JS Neither of us have been in the military, but we support our troops and enjoy making patriotic themes.
ASJ Looking at your leather goods you have a couple things going on: 1) I’m pretty sure I would be able to tell a Savoy Leather holster from someone else’s holster because yours has a very specific look and feel; and 2) There is a lot of diversity in the designs. Who makes your designs and can people submit their own?
JS I am the artist behind most of the designs, but we welcome original ideas from customers. Sometime people may not realize that their creation simply can’t be made in leather, or, more to the point, it will not look good, so we work with them to create the design they love and one that works.
ASJ What has been your favorite piece to create and why?
JS My favorite piece was one I created for the Lone Survivor Foundation, founded by Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell. It was a fun challenge to create that piece, and best of all, it was for a great cause. It is always an honor when we are asked to create an item for a foundation that we believe in.
ASJ What have you tried to make that you have not perfected?
JS I am passionate about everything that I do. I’ve attempted to work with wood several times, but I am just never satisfied with the outcome.
ASJ Where is the furthest you have shipped a product?
JS There are a couple guys in Guam who started out as customers, and ended up as friends. That has, thus far, been the furthest we’ve ever shipped anything. I always laugh when I talk to them on the phone. With the time difference of almost a full day, I feel like I’m getting a call from the future.
ASJ The gun industry is very broad. There are tactical shooters, competitive shooters, hunters, law enforcement or work-related shooters, collectors, historians – it goes on. What group do you feel is your largest demographic within this industry?
JS We have tailored our work, a bit, to each group. A lot of these shooters have several guns and most carry on a daily basis, so even if someone is more inclined towards one group or another, people seem to have guns that they are proud of and like to show off. You don’t want to pull your awesome gun out of a funky holster. It should compliment the gun and show a glimpse of the owner’s personality.
ASJ Looking ahead, what are your goals?
JS Our one-year goal is to get the word out about our products. We would like to see them in more gun stores, and we are currently putting together a wholesale plan for dealers. Above all, we want to make sure we continue the same level of quality. All of our holsters are made with 100 percent American materials right here in Oklahoma. As our products hopefully become more popular, we would like to have a production rate that can employ as many as 50 people. We have a love for this area, and we want more Americans working.
ASJ Do you have any charities that you support that you would like to share with our readers?
JS Other than the occasional holster donated to auctions for charities, we do support our friends at Trinity Outdoor Disabled Adventures. This is an awesome group who take the disabled on fishing, hunting and camping trips, just to name a few. They have dedicated their time, effort and hearts to sharing the joy of the outdoors with people who may not have the ability to do so by themselves.
ASJ What is a personal motto or thoughts you and Jerri try to live by?
JS Our personal motto is “Put the Lord first and he’ll take care of the rest.”
ASJ Thank you, Jeremiah, and give our love to Jerri.
JS Thank you for the opportunity. ASJ
The Chiappa 1873 10-shot represents an effort to bring an affordable single-action plinker to the market. Using a cast zamak-alloy frame, they look and feel like the old .45 Colt Peacemakers without being as expensive to buy. Depending on the model they retail anywhere from just under to just over $200. These revolvers are available in the US and come with either a 4.75-, 5.5- or 7.5-inch barrel, the last with adjustable target sights.
To me, the main appeal was practicing with inexpensive rimfire ammunition and enjoying the light recoil – in style! To that end, I obtained a highly decorated belt and holster set from Old El Paso Saddlery to ensure I had the complete package. I also obtained belts and holsters from El Paso for the kids and adult shooters which looked great functioned flawlessly.
Single action revolver grips are usually fairly good fit for smaller hands, their triggers don’t require much reach, so I also planned to use them for teaching new shooters. To that end, I also got a more utilitarian set of holsters – one each long and short in left and right hand configuration – and adult and child size gun belts with cartridge loops. This way, a person can run the more precise long gun with the string hand and the lighter, shorter gun with the weak hand.
Single-action, gate-loading revolvers are among the most hardy repeating gun designs. Sequential ejection enables the use of imperfect ammunition and brings the full impact of the ejector to bear on one empty casing at a time, and since the ejector rod goes into the casing from the front, even rimless ammunition can be used. With the cylinder fixed in the frame, alignment with the barrel usually remains good, even after a steady diet of hot loads. With rimfire ammunition the guns should last for many generations. Single-action triggers are generally quite decent, but loading may be slower than with break-open or side-swinging cylinders. Recent models, like this pair of Chiappa SAA1873s, hold 10 rounds each, which should be sufficient for a fairly high rate of fire for a short time.
I headed to the range with high hopes and a brick of Federal 40-grain ammunition. The long-sight radius and crisp trigger should produce good practical accuracy, and the longer models with a 7.5-inch barrel should yield a very respectable velocity. Normally, the 40-grain CCI Velocitor manages about 1,250 feet per second and the 33-grain CCI Stinger zips out at 1,350 fps.
The shorter revolver with fixed sights was test fired first. I discovered that the substantial gap between the cylinder and the forcing cone caused a louder than expected report. Despite good balance and a decent trigger, the best groups I could get were well over 2 inches at a distance of 25 feet. The problem with these entirely acceptable groups was their location – 3 inches down and one to the left of the point of aim. With a groove in the top strap for the rear sight and a fixed blade for the front, there was not much that I could do to reconcile the point of aim with the point of impact. The front sight could be filed and repainted to raise the point of impact, but I wouldn’t try to bend the casting for fear of breaking it. This revolver can still be used for point shooting, but aimed fire might require a bit of Kentucky windage.
The longer model with the 7.5-inch barrel shot much better. A minute with a flat-blade screwdriver adjusted the target rear sight to correct zero. At 25 feet, all 10 rounds shot consistently and fit into a 1-inch circle. Success?
Unfortunately, two issues plagued this sample. First, it actually jammed during loading. To load, the hammer should be placed at half cock, which enables the cylinder to spin freely. Opening the loading gate exposes the chambers. Half way through this process the cylinder would stop rotating. To get it to rotate further, I had to put the revolver on full cock, carefully lower the hammer (sometimes on a live round) and only that would free up the cylinder for the completion of the loading procedure. The other problem was the amount of misalignment between the forcing cone and the chambers. This caused lead shavings during firing. Outdoors, this could have been overlooked given the excellent accuracy, but indoors I found small chunks of lead hitting the lane dividers, which bounced off into my face. Though not very fast by the time they reached me, these bits were annoying.
It’s possible that minor gunsmithing would resolve these issues, but the cost of that would quickly add up. My reluctant conclusion is that the budget single-action revolvers are hit and miss in terms of quality. ASJ