Once you’ve scheduled the trip, let the new shooter know what to expect. Discuss how to dress for the range, and why they should avoid low-cut tops and open-toed shoes. The “hot brass dance” is never amusing to the one getting burned, and trying to clear trapped brass with a ﬁrearm in hand can be dangerous.
Review the standard safety rules ahead of time so they can process them in a calm, quiet environment. You’ll reinforce the rules later at the range. I prefer the NRA’s “Three Rules of Gun Safety” but “Cooper’s Four Rules” also work.
Explain the importance of using eye and ear protection at the range, and make sure you have enough of both on hand for everyone. Have the new shooters “double up” hearing protection by wearing foam earplugs underneath ear muﬀs. This will reduce anxiety caused by the noise of shooting.
It’s not enough to recite the rules. You have to go over how they work in context by explaining what a “safe direction” is at the range, how keeping the ﬁnger oﬀ the trigger helps prevent accidental discharges, when the gun should be loaded or unloaded on the line, and why these rules still apply even to “unloaded” guns.
You should also explain that “Cease ﬁre” means “Stop shooting now!” and review other range commands if you’re using a supervised range.
Remember that the students will model their behavior oﬀ of the example you set, so make sure to follow the best safety practices yourself.
WHILE SHOOTING CAN BE a fun social activity, it’s easy to be overwhelmed if you are overseeing too many new shooters. If you are teaching by yourself, try to limit the trip to one or two newbies, if possible. Even then, work with them one-on-one and have the person not shooting observe so they can be better prepared for their turn.
If you have a friend assisting, you should be able to handle additional new shooters if you split them between you. Remember you are there for them, not for your own shooting practice, so focus on giving them the best possible range experience.
Also, whenever possible, split up relationship-paired couples among diﬀerent mentors so each half of the couple focuses on what they are doing instead of trying to “help” the other.
A ﬁrst trip to the range isn’t the same as a full NRA Basic Pistol class. Keep your instruction focused speciﬁcally on what they need to know to safely handle and shoot the ﬁrearm and hit the target. Leave the more technical stuﬀ for later. Draw them a diagram of a sight picture and make sure they understand how the drawing corresponds to the front and rear sights on the ﬁrearm.
HAVE THEM PRACTICE HOLDING and dry ﬁring the unloaded gun, and correct any problems with their grip or stance. Enforce the “trigger oﬀ the ﬁnger until the sights are on target” rule with dryﬁre so they’ll get in the habit. Avoid using the term “trigger squeeze” as it can cause new shooters to tighten their entire grip as they ﬁre. Instead, explain that their grip should be ﬁrm and consistent the whole time, and that the trigger should be pulled
straight to the rear in a deliberate, smooth motion.
Since you’ll likely need to recock the ﬁrearm to reset the trigger during dry-ﬁre, make sure they understand that once the gun is loaded it will automatically reload and recock itself when they shoot for real. (This is obviously not the case for manually operated ﬁrearms such as bolt- or lever-action riﬂes).
The best ﬁrearm for new shooters is a .22LR, bar none. Whether it’s a riﬂe or pistol, the low recoil and relatively quiet report of the rimﬁre make it ideal as a ﬁrst-time gun. If you don’t have a .22LR available, go for the lowest recoiling ﬁrearm you do have. For handguns, a full-size gun ﬁring standard-pressure 9mm or .38 Special loads should be easy enough to manage. For riﬂes, a pistolcaliber carbine or a .223 AR are good choices. This goes double for ARs with adjustable stocks that can be resized for smaller statured shooters.
For aerial shotgun shooting use loads appropriate for the sport. If you are shooting stationary targets, use light loads or reduced recoil “tactical” loads. Whatever you do,
avoid the temptation to have a laugh at someone’s expense by giving them “too much gun.” It’s not fair to the new shooter, can turn them oﬀ the sport, and is actually unsafe.
The best targets are those that react to the hits. Nothing is more fun for new shooters than watching their targets explode, fall down, or spin around. Plate racks or portable swinging or spinning targets are good choices. Just make sure to keep to minimum safe distances when shooting steel.
You can also improvise with cans, plastic cups ﬁlled with water, clay birds set up down range, or anything else that is safe and doesn’t violate range rules. Even if you are limited to paper targets, many ranges will still allow you to tape small balloons to the targets or use the brightly colored Shoot-N-C targets.
TEACHING KIDS TO SHOOT has its own challenges and rewards. Some kids learn best from their parents, while others pay better attention to unrelated adults. If nothing else, a parent should always be present whenever a child is shooting. Make sure the ﬁrearms are suitable for the physical size of the child. I prefer using bolt-action or lever-action riﬂes over semiautos when working with kids so the shooter has to manually work the action to load the next round. Pay particular attention to their energy level, as their attention and safety consciousness can start to slip as they get tired. While it’s important to stay positive with any new shooter, that goes double for kids. Start and end critiques with positive statements and focus on the fun.
Now that you’ve learned some tips on taking new shooters to the range there is no better time to do so than right now. The NRA Mentor Program oﬀers additional resources to help you promote the shooting sports by taking new shooters to the program. Whether you are a NRA member or not, you can help grow our sport by mentoring a new shooter.
For more information about the program, visit nrapublications.org/mentor. ASJ
Shoot one of the targets off the arm and the wheel starts rotating. Try to keep up with the moving targets! As you hit each one the wheel may speed up, slow down or even reverse direction. Every shot is a new challenge.
The targets are easily replaced onto the arms by fitting the stem of the target into a socket on the back of the arm. Simply slide the target under the retaining spring and you’re ready to shoot again. The arms are mounted with Grade 8 hardened bolts for long life and impact resistance.
Pricing and Availability:
The .22 Texas Star is available now at www.custommetalprod.com. The price is set at $249 for the complete unit.
About Custom Metal Products
Custom Metal Products is a full line manufacturer of AR500 hardened steel shooting targets for
competition, recreational, law enforcement and military use. Our products include IDPA/IPSC,
Dueling Trees, Gongs, Swingers, Hostage, Sniper, and Cowboy Action Targets. See all of our
product details, including videos on our online store at www.CustomMetalProd.com
HR Eddens, President
Custom Metal Products, LLC
Posted in Media Releases Tagged with: .22 rimfire, CMP, Custom metal products, Custom Metal Products today announced the newest release of their growing product line, Plinking, Shooting, target, the .22 Texas Star Target.
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
STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGENFor those who’ve attended or read about the SHOT Show for the past 15 years, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that the American military has had an increasing positive effect on the shooting sports, especially hunting. This welcome development is nothing short of phenomenal, and it becomes more evident with each passing year.
I make my living as a hunter, TV host, writer and speaker, so it’s been intriguing and inspiring to watch the inﬂuence of our country’s armed forces transition into every facet of the world I love so much. Take equipment, for example. Many hunters took their ﬁrst deer with a government-issued .30-caliber riﬂe, one that may have been their dad’s or granddad’s. Today, the hunting riﬂe and optics world is dominated by military representation, and Trijicon scopes are a testimony to this.
It’s been more than 10 years since Trijicon entered the hunting world, and a television show I hosted was the ﬁrst one they sponsored. I later went on to host and produce Trijicon’s The Hunt, which currently airs on Amazon Prime and in more than 40 countries. Even though Trijicon has become well known to hunters, not everyone is aware that the company had made quality riﬂescopes and sights for military and law enforcement use for more than 15 years.
Guns are another example. Some old school hunters didn’t like it when ARs entered the hunting world, but as people became more educated on what ARs were, the literal translation of what an AR platform riﬂe is and how they worked, they quickly gained traction. First, predator, varmint and hog hunters used them, now they’re popular with many deer hunters.
Accessories that go with guns and hunting have also evolved, having been deeply rooted in America’s military history. Knives, ﬂashlights, survival kits, boots, packs, navigation devices, even clothes, have stemmed from our military. Not long ago I was in Alaska’s Arctic with my son. For lunch one day we broke out some MREs, and although any current or former member of the military would know these as a ﬁeld ration or “Meal, Ready to Eat,” it was something he’d never had. He’s 14 years old and loved it, and was intrigued when I shared stories of how this is what many military men and women survived on. MREs have come a long way, or so I’m told, but it’s just one more example of our military having an inﬂuence on hunting and the outdoors.
The very ﬁrst riﬂe sling I had was one given to me from my grandfather, from when he served our country. It was an old leather sling with multiple holes for length adjustment. The sling was an inch wide and tough as nails, and it is still one of my favorites.
Not only has military-designed gear had a visible impact on hunting, but on shooting form as well. For decades hunters went aﬁeld with their riﬂes, maybe a pack, but that was it. When it came time to take a shot, it was usually done standing, off-hand. If a tree was close, the hunter might try to lean on it to get steady. Or, if the grass wasn’t too high, the hunter might lay down in order to attain a stable shot.
Then bipods, shooting sticks and shooting bags made their way into the hunting world, thanks again to our military. Attaching a bipod to a riﬂe was something I’d never heard of or seen while growing up hunting in the 1960s and ’70s. Like all things “new,” they came
into the hunting world, but many hunters from previous generations wouldn’t use these shooting aids, which is unfortunate.
Last fall I was in deer camp in Wyoming. It was public ground and the sagebrush-studded hills were full of hunters. What amazed me was not the number of shots I heard during the ﬁrst two days of the season, but how many people I talked to headed back to camp, transporting deer that had been shot in the leg, face, guts and everywhere bullets shouldn’t hit. None of them had used shooting aids.
One hunter in our camp, an older, retired man, missed nine shots at three different bucks. When I asked him why he doesn’t use a bipod or shooting stick, he replied, “Never have, don’t need one.” “No, obviously you do!” I insisted. I took him aside, showed him how to work my Bog Pod tripod shooting stick, and told him to take it. He killed a buck with his next shot.
Many of our armed forces pride themselves on shooting accuracy, and more and more hunters are starting to do the same. We owe it to ourselves, our fellow hunters and the animals we pursue to deliver quick, clean shots.
For people like me who make a living hunting, we can’t afford misses. Every miss costs time and money for everyone involved on the hunt, from myself to camera crews, outﬁtters, producers, editors and even networks. There’s pressure to hit the mark, which is why, for the past several years, all of my shots have come off a shooting stick, a bipod mounted to my gun, or shooting bags.
A couple seasons ago I took my ﬁrst buck with a longrange riﬂe, what my dad and his friends, in their late 70s and 80s, refer to as a “sniper riﬂe.” Now, the gun wasn’t really a sniper riﬂe, but the $4,000 scope I had atop it was designed for snipers, and the sturdy bipod and shooting bags I relied on were used primarily by tactical shooters. I devoted many hours of practice to shooting that riﬂe from a prone position, learning about everything related to long-range shooting. I was able to connect on a nice buck at 960 yards while ﬁlming for a TV show.
Today, we see more hunters shooting from prone positions using shooting aids on television, in magazines, and on the Internet. Why? Because it’s more accurate, that’s why. Think about it. We wait all year for hunting season, then spend days, even weeks aﬁeld, and yet our success or failure often comes down to a single shot. It only makes sense to make that one shot as accurate as possible.
Many hunters who spend time in the dense deer woods, stalking with shotguns and open-sight riﬂes are now carrying their guns differently, thanks to the inﬂuence of the military and armed forces. Gone are the days when hunters trudged through thick brush, gun slung over their shoulder, and then quickly forcing it into a shaky shooting position when a buck pops up.
These days, guns are more frequently carried in a semi-shooting position, butt held above the shoulder, one hand on the stock, the other on the forestock. This allows a shot to be taken in a fraction of the time of the other hold, something that’s not only applicable in some deer hunting situations but when tracking dangerous game or wounded animals anywhere in the world.
Last but not least, the discipline and hard work that our special forces are built on has entered the hunting world. Physical training and dedicated shooting practice has never been so prevalent, and our military is largely to thank.
I’ve never served in the military, but have many relatives and friends who have. My great uncle was a paratrooper who jumped on the beaches at Normandy and served on the front lines. I couldn’t get enough of his stories while growing up.
To the men and women who’ve served our country over the years, and continue to serve, I thank you. You help keep America free, and great. Your efforts and dedication
have prevailed in upholding our Constitution and Second Amendment rights, and for that, all hunters in the United States should thank you. Keep up the great work, and may God bless you and your families. ASJ
Editor’s note: Scott Haugen has been a full-time writer for 15 years. To see instructional videos on shooting, hunting and more, visit his new website, OutdoorsNow.com.
Terry Raahauge lost his battle to cancer in 2013. He was a well-liked, fair, and honest man, and his family name is known by hunting and sporting clay enthusiasts all over the State of California.
We urge everyone to attend, even if you are not a shooter.
This shoot is NSCA registered, but non- registered shooters are encouraged to come and join the fun. Bring your family and friends to support the American Cancer Society in Terry’s memory.
This event is also a great tuneup for the upcoming dove season!
Saturday: (50 Target) Prelim, Sub Gauges -$40.00 ea. (fees Included)
Sunday: (100 Target) Main Event -$85.00 and Super Sporting- $40.00
Lunch catered by Pedi, delicious all you can eat Taco Bar (“Authentic Mexican Food”).
“Outdoor Gear” Raffle, sponsored by Kittles Outdoor Sports of Colusa.
RSVP REQUESTED by calling the club at 530-724-0552 or fill out the attached application and send to Raahauge’s P.O. Box 408 Dunnigan, CA. 95937. Please make checks out to Raahauge’s.
Donations for the raffle are welcomed. Attached is a tax deductable form you can fill out and send to us if you would like to make a donation of Goods or Cash.
Your Generous Donation is tax deductable. Thank you for supporting this much needed cause for a cure for Cancer. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.
Raahauge’s Hunting and Sporting Clays
P.O. Box 408 Dunnigan, CA 95937
530-724-0552 / Fax: 530-724-0299
Most athletes start young to maximize their potential. Shooting sports are no exception, and an increasing number of competitive 3-gunners are starting out early. Learning to shoot used to be common for American kids, especially in rural areas, but actually training for performance with parents or professional coaches is a more recent phenomenon. As with musicians and gymnasts, starting marksmanship training early yields immeasurable benefits later on.
While attending the NRA Annual Meeting gathering in Nashville in April 2015, I was able to meet a group of such young shooters, along with their parents and supportive friends. We spent a day at a private range, shooting guns and photos. The six girls ranged in age from nine to 16, and every one of them demonstrated an unusual level of maturity. This was less surprising once you considered the degree of parental involvement with their education and activities.
All of these young ladies impress the world with their breadth of interests and talents, which include everything from shooting sports and music to excellent academics and public speaking. They all have a degree of dedication and earnestness that they use to perfect their skills, and this drive, partly innate, partly imparted by closely involved family members, also caught the attention of industry sponsors who, in turn, have flocked to support these young shooters.
Watching them shoot reinforced the value of fitting guns to individual shooters. The adjustments to the length of pull, balance and grips to fit smaller hands and shorter limbs allow for the individual shooter to demonstrate their absolute best. Since most of these ladies are musicians, they also often use suppressors to safeguard their hearing.
For almost all of them, the parents were their first trainers. But most have gone beyond a single source of training. For example, Shyanne Roberts trained with Todd Jarrett, a world-renown competitive shooter and instructor.
Besides being an inspiration to other kids, these young ladies are a challenge to adult shooters. It’s one thing to be outshot by another experienced adult, but quite another to be shown up by a preteen. Watching their progress illustrates the value of quality training and also shows the rewards of dedication to learning and practicing new skills. Having excellent people skills, these juniors are ambassadors to the shooting sports and gun owners all over America. And last but far from the least, they prove that there’s much more to girls in shooting sports than pink pistol grips. ASJ
Vanessa Aguilar, the youngest of this group that we interviewed, is also the youngest member of the San Antonio Sure Shots Pistol League. She shoots rimfire rifle and pistol, both customized for her. Despite a hearing impediment she’s been able to make TV and radio appearances, in addition to extensive training in preparation for IDPA and Steel Challenge competitions planned for next year.
Moriah Combs is the oldest of this group, and came to the shooting world through extensive involvement with her 4H club. Shooting since the age of six, she holds over 20 grand champion titles. She’s now a national 4-H Shooting Sports Teen Ambassador for Ohio, representing 3,000 youth shooters. Her other passions are photography, choir singing, hunting and running a cake-baking business.
Cheyenne Dalton has been shooting since the age of five. She competes in the USPSA and NSSF Rimfire Challenge and holds a state championship title. She is planning on competing in 3-Gun competitions next. Outside of the range, she fishes with line and bow, hunts and plays numerous musical instruments with her band.
At 11, Maddie Dalton sings and plays musical instruments when she isn’t winning the youth title in the Limited category of the 2014 NSSF Rimfire World Championship. That’s pretty amazing progress for someone who had only shot their first gun a year prior. She’s a two-time winner of the Oklahoma junior fiddle championship as well. How is that for talent?
Shyanne Roberts has already participated in 3-Gun, IDPA, USPSA, action rifle and steel silhouette events. She also makes frequent TV appearances, making a strong and well-articulated case for gun ownership as part of our individual freedoms. Shooting is just one of her many passions – academics, music and other sports round out her personal development. In addition to rifles, rimfire and centerfire pistols, Shyanne also runs a 12-gauge shotgun quite effectively – even though it’s taller than she is!
Editor’s note – The American Shooting Journal’s Patriotic July 2015 issue features Shyanne Roberts on the cover. Look for copies nationwide!
Sydney Rockwell is a 14-year-old competitive shooter who began shooting rifles with her dad at age nine. Serving as the vice president of her school’s student council, Sydney is also an avid hunter, golfer and competitor in several action-shooting sports, including Steel Challenge, 3-Gun, IDPA and USPSA competitions. This past October she was selected for the prestigious US Army Marksmanship Unit’s Junior Shooters’ Clinic, and received training from some of the most elite competitive shooters in the world.
Editor’s note: Oleg Volk is a professional photographer specializing in the shooting industry around the nation. Feel free to contact him at olegvolk.net.
Author’s note: A big thank you to Eric Saperstein for the introduction to this awesome crew.
Posted in Shooters Tagged with: 3-Gun, Action Steel, Cheyenne Dalton, IDPA, Kids, Maddie Dalton, Moriah Combs, new generation, Oleg Volk, Shooting, Shyanne Roberts, Sporting Clays, Steel Silhouettes, Sydney Rockwell, USPSA, Vanessa Aguilar
Shotguns come in a variety of types – single shot, pump action, autoloading, side by side and over and under. There is a diehard group of shotgun shooters and collectors who consider a side by side the only style truly worth their time, and nowhere in the United States can you find more of these male and female side-by-side aficionados in one place than the Spring Southern Side by Side Championship and Exhibition, held each year at the Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School outside the central North Carolina town of Sanford.
The shooting rules are casual, with the only stipulation being that all guns shot on the sporting-clays course must have horizontally aligned barrels. This is more of an exhibition, so although some shooters take their shooting very seriously, posting a good score is secondary for many, with camaraderie and a chance to rub elbows with fellow side-by-side enthusiasts being the true main attraction. It’s called a championship, but that’s just for bragging rights – there’s no purse, there’s no betting, and there are so many trophy categories that it’s almost like a kid’s soccer club.
One of the more notable changes at the Spring Southern over recent years has been the influx of lady shooters. They’re not just attendees either, but actual competitors. Groups such as Girls Really Into Shooting have led the way for more women to get involved.
Bill Kempffer, owner of the Deep River shooting school, says he’s seen a steady uptick in the number of women shooters over the years. Kempffer serves on the National Shooting Sports Foundation Board of Governors and has been in the shooting sports business since the 1950s – certainly long enough to notice any trends in the industry. “I’ve seen big changes – particularly in the last 20 years, and Deep River has been around for 27 years,” he says. “In the beginning you’d occasionally have a wife or a daughter come out to shoot, but around 15 years ago we had an increase in single mothers who would bring their sons to the range to be around men and learn masculine things, because that’s what their fathers and brothers did. In the last five to 10 years more women have stepped out and started doing it themselves.”
Elizabeth Lanier didn’t shoot much as a child growing up in Texas, but you wouldn’t know it by the way she handles her shotgun on the clays course. On her call of “pull,” two orange targets are launched and instantly turned to dust by her 12-gauge side by side. Liz’s childhood experience with guns was limited to 4th of July celebrations when the men in her family would set up a few soda bottles for the youngsters to shoot with .22 rimfires. Several years back she bought her then-husband a set of five shooting lessons, tagging along with him for the first outing. She discovered she liked shooting so much that she used the remaining four lessons on herself. “I thought it was great therapy; it was something I could go out and do that was just about me, the shotgun and the target. I used to drive my kids up to the five-stand and leave the car running, air conditioning on and a movie playing. They were all in car seats and I’d take an hour lesson, go back to the car and they’d all be sound asleep. It was wonderful fun,” she said.
As things progressed, Lanier figured she needed to learn more so she could help the group become more proficient. She got her National Sporting Clays Association level I certification, and then her level II. The only woman in a class of nine, she was so full of nervous excitement that she literally cried when she was awarded her certification. One thing led to another, and people started coming to her for instruction, but she says money has never been the object – it’s the love of the sport that drives her. Her sights were then squarely set on her level III certification, which she considered the ultimate goal – one that would place her in a select group of women so few you can count them on one hand. Lanier calls the day she obtained her level III certification one of her proudest moments. After weathering her divorce, instructing morphed into a career that not only offsets the cost of her hobbies, but ultimately ended up supporting her and her kids.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, how much money you have, what you do for a living – we’re all together to have fun, to enjoy being outside and shooting,” says Lanier. “People would see us out shooting and think, ‘Oh, my, those ladies are having a good time!’”
With five chapters and two more currently in the works, GRITS is spreading the word that women and shotguns are a good combination You’ll know GRITS girls at clay competitions. They’re the ladies smiling and slapping high-fives while shooting the course. It’s the love of the sport that keeps them and their side-by-side shotguns coming back for more. ASJ
Posted in Shotgun Tagged with: Bugsy Graves, Deep River Sporting Clays, Elizabeth Lanier, Ella Lanier, girls, GRITS, Judy Holiday, Judy Hughes, Marilyn Mcllvain, Mimi Wingfield, Shooting, Shotgun, Side by side, Women and guns
Story by Robin Taylor
Photographs by David Mechin, Douglas Smith, Kristen Daulton and J2 Photography
“If you had asked me 16 years ago if I thought I could do this full time I wouldn’t have said yes,” says Lenseigne. “Who would have known work would be something you love so much?”
Today Lenseigne is both “making a living” and “living a message” of responsible firearm use that opens doors worldwide. As a trainer, shooter, rider, and ambassador for the shooting sports there is a lot to be said for Kenda Lenseigne.
I caught up with Lenseigne at her New River, Ariz., home, freshly returned from an American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) night event in Scottsdale (the Sun Circuit Championship). Like most people, I’d always assumed that mounted shooting was primarily regulated by the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) – the major governing body for cowboy-style events. Not true!
Mounted shooters and SASS “ground shooters” have very different needs, and when Lenseigne started shooting in 1998, the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (CMSA) had just branched out from SASS. Since then, the two organizations have followed different roads. The most visible difference being CMSA’s decision to eliminate SASS’ long-standing costume requirements.
“Dropping the costume requirement changed everything,” says Lenseigne. “That one decision opened up the sport to the broader riding world,” says Lenseigne. “Suddenly we had better horses, better riders, and it became a lot less expensive to participate.”
Sponsors like Wrangler took an interest, and people started taking “mounted” seriously. The result was a modern rodeo sport akin to barrel racing – with guns. Horse and rider charge through a rodeo-corral-sized course of fire, circling around and through a proscribed pattern of plastic barrels at maximum speed. At intervals, the rider breaks target balloons using a blank-firing single-action revolver. With as many as 10 balloons in play, the shooter must switch from one pistol to another at full gallop. It happens fast, and at Lenseigne’s level, if you miss one balloon, you lose.
“If you are too far away, the black powder granules burn up before hitting the target, and if you’re too close, once in a while the pattern will have a hole in the middle. The balloon will literally just wave at you. It’s happened to me several times.” Lenseigne continued, “You have to trust yourself to hold off a little bit. If you relate it to bird hunting, you want to wait for the bird to be at an optimum distance. Shooting it too soon leads to a bad result, and so does waiting too long.”
Flying through an agility course atop a galloping charger isn’t “normal” horseback
riding. Barrel racers aren’t quite as crazy as, say, rodeo bull riders, but the pictures with this article show a little bit of what Lenseigne’s horses can do. I mentioned to Lenseigne that my aunt was a barrel racer, and she shot back with “Then, she’s crazy like us!”
This year Lenseigne made her fourth trip to France to serve as an ambassador/trainer for the growing community of Western shooting enthusiasts there. European mounted fans are overcoming some gun-control requirements – using cap-and-ball revolvers if they have to – in order to shoot from horseback.
The following year, Lenseigne was asked to teach a clinic – and France had eased its gun restrictions so she was able to use a revolver. “People started showing up with all manner of crazy stuff. They were just so happy to be there, it was infectious,” she says. “Last year, even more showed up, some with modified .357 revolvers.”
Some European riders are bringing their dream to learn all there is to know about the mounted shooting and cowboy lifestyle all the way to the United States just to compete.
Back in the late 1990s, Lenseigne and her fellow riders had no gear that really worked for mounted-action shooting. Some things could be adapted (barrel racing saddles, for example), but most of the “gun stuff” was just wrong. Imagine trying to re-holster a SAA (single-action Army Colt revolver or Peacemaker) one-handed while using a period-correct “slim jim” holster (a holster with a very narrow girth) at full gallop. It’s not quite like threading a needle, but you get the idea.
“We had people walking around with water bottles stuffed in their holsters to get them to stay open,” says Lenseigne. “I was one of them!”
The problem became an opportunity when Lenseigne met Safariland’s Scott Carnahan at the NRA’s Bianchi Cup in Colombia, Mo. The holster innovations that practical shooters like Carnahan take for granted – low-cut fronts for faster draws, laminated holster materials, adjustable draw tension – all that was unknown to the mounted community.
Carnahan connected Lenseigne with his design staff, and their Bianchi Cowboy line has offered Kenda Lenseigne signature holsters ever since. Lenseigne’s line takes advantage of the technology that Safariland is known for, but holds the standard of a traditional look and feel. “It’s like an old model car with a new engine.”
“When you look at the products I’ve been involved in developing, people essentially are benefiting from my decade of learning the hard way,” laughed Lenseigne. As she explained, it’s difficult to shoot a standard Peacemaker well right out of the box due to the stiff hammer action. Competitive shooters immediately lighten the hammers. “When I first started in the sport, I had heard about the legendary Bob Munden who was the go-to gunsmith, so I sent him my guns. When I got them back, $300 per gun later, I had hair triggers – which is absolutely not what you want for mounted shooting.” Once Lenseigne found the right gunsmiths, her mounted guns began to evolve. “The original hammer spur on the old Peacemaker tends to open your grip when you’re shooting one-handed,” Lenseigne explained. “So, we took that hammer spur and made it lower and wider for quicker access.” Today, Uberti firearms offers the Kenda Lenseigne signature line as a package “racegun” for mounted shooting. They sell well to mounted shooters, and to “ground shooters” who compete in SASS events.
Certain brands have become household words among horse people in the US. One of the largest is Circle Y Saddles.
“In January of ‘09, Circle Y contacted me to design a saddle for them, saying ‘We want to be the first in the industry that builds a saddle specifically for your sport.’” Lenseigne was shocked. What an honor! “This is the saddle brand that practically everybody grew up riding, or at least wanting to ride. Basically, if you own a horse, you know Circle Y.”
Lenseigne had ridden many different disciplines over the years, so she had a lot to say.
“They sent out their designer to visit with me, and we sat down with a yellow pad. We sketched out what I thought would be a good design for the sport: a forward-tilted horn to allow clearance for your gun leather, free-moving stirrups, and a deep seat to hold you in.” A contract to ride for Circle Y developed, and things got very serious. “They hand-delivered the prototype to one of the CMSA majors in Arizona. They put it on my horse, did a photo shoot, and then gave me the option to ride it in the upcoming event, or ride my regular saddle.” As any sponsored competitor knows, running brand-new gear at an important match invites disaster. If it works, you’re a hero. If it fails you damage yourself and the brand. It’s a high-stakes “hero or zero” gamble.
“I warmed up my horse in the saddle for about 45 minutes, liked it, and decided the time was right to believe in my design and go for it.” Lenseigne set the world record on her first pass, and her saddle design went “hero” instantly. “The design was a hit from day one; we’ve only made some minor changes since then – different grades of leather, etc.,” she says. Not every project has worked out so well, but as she’ll tell you “you can’t excel unless you fail a time or two and learn from your experiences.”
Lenseigne’s life involves many pieces. She describes herself as “horse-heavy at the moment” with six of her own quarter horses in varying stages of training, plus several more that she’s training for customers. As you might imagine, training a horse to deal with a gunshot fired near its head isn’t easy, and would-be competitive riders are more than willing to pay her for her help. Lenseigne’s involved with every piece of the puzzle, firing .22 blanks from horseback on her home range, and taking horses to the Ben Avery Shooting Complex to shoot the louder .45s.
“For me the most important thing is building the horse’s confidence to accept the noise of gunfire. People send their horses to me for that.”
Once she gets the horse settled in, she insists on spending time training the rider. “I can train the horse and he’ll be ready to go, but if the rider doesn’t know what buttons to push, that won’t work for either of us.”
Lenseigne explained that even a moderately experienced rider can accidentally send the horse mixed signals – especially with all the distractions created by adding guns and rapid balance shifts to the equation.
“Had I not been an experienced rider, I certainly would have hit the ground more times than I can count,” says Lenseigne. In the Internet age, Lenseigne’s an irony in motion. She’s competing, training, designing, traveling the world, and doing media appearances – all because of her skill with a horse and a gun. ASJ
David Mechin is a French photographer whose ability to capture Kenda Lenseigne in these images portrays his passion for his field and depiction of beauty, power and dynamism. See more of his work at davidmechin.com.
Douglas Smith See more of his work at wysiwyg-photography.smugmug.com
Posted in Women and guns Tagged with: Bianchi Cowboy, Circle Y Saddles, CMSA, Cowboy Mounted Shooting, David Mechin, Douglas Smith, France, Gun, Holster, Horse, Kenda Lenseigne, Robin Taylor, Safariland, SASS, Scott Carnahan, Shooting, World Champion, Wrangler
If you haven’t yet heard, right here in our backyard at the North Thurston High School in Lacy, Wash. a 16-year-old boy shot off rounds in the school terrifying students and causing a stampede. While this is becoming commonplace, sadly but I draw your attention to the high school teacher who tackled this kid rendering him unarmed and no longer a threat. Brady Olson.
In our circles (people who carry guns in case the unthinkable happens to protect ourselves and those around us) we would have been justified in shooting that kid in order to protect all the other kids and staff. In a report from the police commander, the campus resource officer, a Lacey police officer, “was preparing to shoot the boy when social studies teacher Brady Olson tackled the student.
One of the items we find troubling is the shooter says he obtained the gun from his parents. There has been a lot of debate on whether parents should suffer criminal charges for having their firearms accessible to their children. What do you think?
For more on this story, visit:
*Excerpt From: “Officer-Involved Shootings: What We Didn’t Know Has Hurt Us ©”
By Thomas J. Aveni, M.S., The Police Policy Studies Council