A group of adults were able to dress up in period costumes, assume new identities and fire off guns in the woods at the Quesnel Cowboy Run Amok action shoot this weekend (July 26-28).
Thirteen contestants from Quesnel, 100 Mile House, Kamloops, Prince George and even Ontario got together to celebrate cowboy culture with some old-time weapons, loud bangs, holsters, appropriate head wear and the smell of gunpowder.
Sandee Birch, who runs the Rope Burn City Bounty Collectors, went by her alter-ego, Miz Josie, for the weekend and refused to be called anything else.
She and those gathered wore period costumes.
“It must be either mid-to-late Victorian or peak western,” she said. The latter, she explained, is the kind of outfit one might find on an actor in a John Wayne movie.
“You must have a hat, and there are restrictions with shoes too.”
She adds it’s fun to dress up in character. Judging by the ear-to-ear smiles of her associates, the sentiment was shared.
The practice, Miz Josie said, “is very big in the States” and seems to be gaining popularity across Canada.
Donald Lemke, who was going by Doc W for the weekend, came all the way from Chalk River, Ont., a small town near Ottawa, and participated in the shoot with his son.
“We’ve done this together for many years,” he said. “I’ve done it with him in two other places in B.C. and one in Alberta.”
Saturday’s Run Amok shot took place on the Black Powder Trails and the Cowboy Action Bay at the Quesnel Rod and Gun Club.
Five stages were set up that all involved a somewhat elaborate story that involved some nifty shooting to get out of a tricky situation.
“Generally, we’re the good guys, and there’s some kind of bad guy that’s out there that we’ve got to defeat,” said Miz Josie. “So we have a little story-time first, and then when it’s your time to shoot, you have a pattern for each firearm that you’re shooting.”
Each involved firing a combination of shotguns, revolvers and lever action rifles that are replicas of similar weapons used during the time period.
No modern guns are allowed.
Some participants are even picky about the gunpowder.
“I shoot with black powder, which is the original propellant,” said Porcupine, an avid player who lives close to Kamloops. “They didn’t even get smokeless powder until 1894 and that was only allowed to the military, so a lot of the traditional shooters had a mistrust of smokeless powder.”
“So they actually made black powder rounds up until the 50s.” he added.
Porcupine said the Quesnel shoot is one of his favourites.
“Its challenging,” he said. “A lot of the other shoots have gone for being quick and dirty. All the targets are close, they shoot fast.
“They’ve gone to downloaded 38s, so there’s very little recoil,” he added with some disgust. “They shoot a 90 grain bullet with two grains of bulls eye, which is hardly more than a 22 calibre.
“This is spirit of the game,” he said of the Quesnel shoot. “This is tradition.”