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Gunslingers test their mettle at annual cowboy-action shooting event

Attendees dressed in period garb and toted 1800s-era firearms
Sandee Birch, aka Miss Josie, takes aim at Run Amok XVIII on July 28 at the Quesnel Rod and Gun Club. Melanie Law photo

Approaching the range at the Quesnel Rod and Gun Club on Saturday July 28, a strange phrase could be heard before shots rang out, the sound bouncing off the nearby hills.

“Just cuz I’m ridin’ a pickle barrel don’t mean I can’t shoot!” came the cry from behind the painted green shooting stall.

It was no ordinary weekend on the range.

The location was occupied all weekend, as the Rope Burn City Bounty Collectors presented Run Amok XVIII, a shooting match full of fun challenges using single-action firearms for the most authentic cowboy shooting experience.

Eighteen men and women dressed to the nines in 1800s-inspired cowboy and cowgirl attire crowded under the green shelter out of the blazing sun, and one by one stepped up to the pickle barrel to make their declaration and shoot at targets set up 25 metres away.

Other challenges took participants into the trees nearby, with targets set up across the range.

Not only were attendees dressed in period garb and using 1800s firearms, they also chose a cowboy alias to complete the charade.

In this 18th annual match, organizer Sandee Birch, AKA Miz Josie, says they added an extra element of difficulty to the event, putting moving targets into every single challenge.

“There’s several categories people shoot in depending on what gun they are shooting and the style of shooting,” she explains.

She says Quesnel’s event is often more of a challenge anyway, with the rifle targets set up farther away than at other events.

“In the previous 17 years we’ve never had anybody get every single target.”

All the men and women – and even one junior member – seemed to be enjoying the camaraderie and getting into the cowboy spirit. Malcolm Cattanach, who shoots under the alias Highland Whiskers, says he’s been coming to events like this for years. He says he enjoys the people and the dress-up element.

“You start out your first year in just a hat, shirt, jeans and boots. As you spend too many years at it, you just keep adding. We usually shop at ‘VV Boutique,’” he says slyly – later explaining the fancy name is a euphemism for second-hand clothing store Value Village.

Birch says there are a number of similar events enthusiasts can attend.

“We got Williams Lake and Prince George started a number of years ago, so there’s three in the Cariboo now. Then there’s a few that can happen in Kamloops, and another one on the island.

“You get to see the same people at most of the shoots; we say it’s like family.”

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