It's show time in Branson! In more ways than one. The city of shows – magicians, singers, acrobats, comedy acts – and then there are cowboy action shooters.
Yes folks, the Butterfield Trail Cowboys hold the Branson Triple Classic. Missouri State Wild Bunch, Black Powder and Cowboy Action Championship. Three shoots, one place, a whole heap of fun rolled into one action packed weekend.
Our dear friends Alvira Sullivan Earp and Virgil Earp from Australia were in the room next to us at the hotel and other Cowboys were starting to roll in for the next four days of competition.
Wednesday and Thursday mornings we shot 10 stages of Wild Bunch. Black Powder shooters shot 10 stages of holy smoke over the same two days. We had a small good mix of Traditional and Modern shooters – Brisco Kid, Alvira Sullivan Earp, Virgil Earp, MO No Name, Long Ranger, Cletus, Coffin Sam, R. J. Rust, Shortgrub, Doc Hurd, Luke McGlue, Jackaroo and myself.
Thursday evening was the banquet for Wild Bunch and Black Powder awards. Jack finished 5th overall in Modern and 2nd place Modern Senior. I finished 1st in Ladies Traditional and 2nd overall in Traditional. Both Virgil and Allie placed 1st in their Modern categories also!
Friday and it's day 1 into Cowboy Action match. It's early morning, about 5C if we are lucky (think the temp was showing 35F in the car), the sun is rising – right in our eyes! – suddenly smokeless gunpowder appears as if you were shooting black powder! There goes the clean match on the first stage.
Needless to say, we had fun, finished strong for the day and did have a good Posse. Our Posse, Posse 6, Brisco Kid, Kiamichi Queen, Alvira Sullivan Earp, Virgil Earp, Slipnoose, Ozark Outlaw, Hawkshaw Fred, Annie D Vine, Lil Feisty, Django, Rose Webb, (oh my goodness, I've forgotten someone's name and didn't have a photo of the posse!!), Jack and myself.
Given we were finished early a group of us after lunch headed to the cinema and watched the new version of Magnificent 7! We thought it was very well done and enjoyed it.
Friday evening they had a cowboy social – basically another banquet with a band and a separate room with gaming tables and slot machines! We had vouchers that you took and got chips or tokens so you could play roulette, black jack, Texas hold 'em, or slots. At a certain time in the night, the games were closed off and you traded in any wins for more tickets in the side raffles.
Saturday and its last chance to shoot well, have fun and see it through to the end. Lunch was provided every day at the range which was good and varied.
An afternoon rest, beginning of packing and last catch ups with friends before it was time to get ready for the Awards Banquet.
It was all very convenient to be staying in the hotel where all the banquets were held. No having to drive anywhere, just take the stairs or elevator and you were there.
We had a guest speaker that night who had started her film career working on the Lonesome Dove series. A great western series that just about every cowboy will have watched at least once in their time. Kelly told us of her beginnings, working with the actors and the many unforgettable moments during the filming of Lonesome Dove.
It was also a pleasure to meet Dusty Rogers, son of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (Virgil and Allie have known him for years and were glad to see him again). Dusty is a member of the Butterfield Trail Cowboys and he was the compère for all the awards. It was great to hear the odd little piece about his parents during this time.
Onto the awards and Allie placed 1st in Lady Silver Senior and 5th lady overall. Virgil placed 2nd in Silver Senior Duelist.
Jack finished 1st in Silver Senior and 14th overall with the 'Geezer Gang' and all out Oklahoma team. In 2nd place, Snake Oil George (right) and in 3rd place, Matt Valentine (left).
I placed 1st in Lady Wrangler with my very good friend in 2nd place and Missouri State Champion, Belle Vaquera!
Missouri Lefty won Men's overall and myself for the Ladies overall finishing 11th outright.
Of course a huge congratulations for the two Overall Missouri State champions Missouri Lefty and Belle Vaquera.
Another good shoot, another lot of fun, time to head back to Oklahoma and get ready for the SW Regionals, Red Dirt Rampage next weekend.