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Leisure : Weekend Chat

Taking a Shot, or Two, at Being a Cowboy

April 26, 2001|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Linda Patton is a court clerk in El Monte, the mother of four and the grandmother of 11. And she shoots a mean shotgun.

A member of the Single Action Shooting Society, Patton is a cowboy action shooter and competes under the handle of Running Bare. Cowboy action shooters compete in fantasy scenarios based on historic events, western movies or TV series. Competitors wear authentic attire from the late 1800s and use antique or replica single-action rifles and shotguns from the period.

Patton, 59, is participating in the 20th Annual End of Trail World Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting and Wild West Jubilee at Raahague's Ranch in Norco. More than 750 shooters from around the world will be competing. The festival, which is open to the public Friday through Sunday, is dedicated to the women of the Wild West such as Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane and Belle Star.

Spread across 30 acres, the Wild West encampment will feature a Wild West show in the style of Buffalo Bill, Old West entertainers, historical reenactments, equestrian events, stunt shows, costume contests, trick roping, a chuck wagon cooking contest, pony rides for kids and more than 100 vendors offering Wild West merchandise.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans' Happy Trails Children's Foundation is the End of Trail '01 charity beneficiary.

Question: What is the difference between a sharpshooter and a cowboy action shooter?

Answer: The cowboy action shooting is a lot of movement and different scenarios. They might have 10 to 14 different stages. You could use your pistol, your shotgun and your rifle all on one stage or any combination as you go through all the scenarios. You might be running from one place to another or climbing up stairs and coming down the other side or going around a wooden horse or you might start shooting on a buckboard. It is really kind of exciting.

The targets are usually stationary and set up in different places. You could have a bank of five metal plates in different shapes [to shoot] and then farther out in the shooting bay there could be three rifle targets and to the right of the shooting bay there could be four to six shotgun targets. There is a written list of what you have to do.

There could be 400 to 600 people shooting a match. They split them up into groups and each group is called a posse. There could be 20 people in your posse. There is a person with a timer and they take your time. If you miss your target you get five seconds added on to your time. So whoever is the fastest and most accurate wins.

Q: Is it true all the shooters have an alias?

A: Everyone has their own alias. In fact, it's funny. When we started shooting cowboy, you meet wonderful people and you know them by their alias because that's all you use there. I would know them for years before I knew their real names.

Q: How did you come up with your alias of Running Bare?

A: My brother-in-law gave it to me. I came to my first shoot and they said, "What's your alias?" and I had no clue. You have to have some cowboy name. I decided I wanted to be an Indian because I wanted to wear moccasins. I was wearing a skimpy little dress that was cut up on the side--a leather dress--and he said "I think you should be called 'Running B-A-R-E.' " And that is how that happened.

Q: What's your husband's handle?

A: He's a cowboy. His handle is Dastardly Dave.

Q: Did you shoot a lot before becoming involved in cowboy action shooting?

A: Years ago I shot some trap at the trap-and-skeet range in El Monte. My husband belonged to a law enforcement [sharpshooting team], and he asked if I wanted to practice with them, and I said sure. So I did and I got to be pretty good at it. My husband wrote back East to see if there were any civilian clubs in this area where we could shoot. He found some and we joined the civilian club. We met some people there who were shooting cowboy and they asked us to be range officers at End of Trail. The range officers are people who check safety and check the loading and the unloading and do the timing, and they sometimes do the scoring.

We were so impressed with the costumes and the names and the fun they were having, we decided to shoot cowboy too. It's like stepping into another world. The people are like from the Old West. Everyone is courteous, friendly and helpful. Everyone is your friend. I'd say there are 38,000 members in [our organization], all over the world. People come to End of Trail from other countries. For three days you are in this wonderful, old-fashioned place.

Q: What prizes can you win?

A: I have won two bronze statues that are really beautiful. One time I won a gun, a .45-caliber, all engraved with a mother-of-pearl handle. This isn't a money match.

* The 20th Annual End of Trail World Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting and Wild West Jubilee, Friday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at Raahague's Ranch in the Prado Dam Recreation Area in Norco. $10 per person each day. Free for kids under 12. Spectators are encouraged to dress Western, but are not permitted to carry firearms. Spectators in the shooting areas must have eye protection; hearing protection is encouraged and available on site. (714) 694-1800 or http://www.sassnet.com.

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