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Sharpshooters at Gladstone

The team at Trails End. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

By Gerald Ford

They have names like IC Bones, whose day job is a radiologist, Silver Sam, and Bullwhip.

Kitted out in their best western gear they gathered from all over the country to compete at the 21st annual Cowboy Action Shooting event at the Gladstone Rife Range over the weekend.

Event organiser Ben Garrett, who shoots as Wild Ben Hickock, place second overall at the event, behind PJ, the national section, who is the national section director of the sport.

“He’s retired; he’s got lots of time to shoot,” Ben says.

“I’ve won the last three when he wasn’t shooting, but looking back at the scores I was right behind him.”

Cowboy action shooting combines speed and accuracy, with timed runs and a five-second penalty for missing a target.

In cowboy action shooting all the firearms are pre-1900, usually replicas. They include the 1873 Winchester, the 1887 Winchester pump action shotgun, shorter barrelled “coach guns” and the famous Colt 1873 Peacemaker.

Shooters compete in different age groups and also in different categories including the tricky duellist category shooters who use a pistol one-handed.

Preparing for the event involved making props including a set of louvre swinging saloon doors.

There was also a wooden horse set-up where competitors had to nail on a horse shoe and pull their rifle from a scabbard on the horse before getting off their first shot.

Competitors enjoy dressing up

Carterton Mayor John Booth opened proceedings by letting off a cannon, and former Carterton Mayor and New Zealand First deputy leader Ron Mark, who also turns up every year, got into the spirit of the event.

Mr Garrett used to take advantage of his famous surname and shoot as Pat Garrett, the infamous lawman who killed Billy the Kid.

However his new handle, Wild Ben Hickock, has been registered in the United States where Mr Garrett hopes to shoot in the world championships one day.

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