Aiming for a good time

Shots echo in the hills, the smell of gunpowder hangs in the air and cowboy attire reminiscent of the Old West takes participants back to another time.

Every month from April to September, marksmen of all ages and skill levels meet at the Cedar Moun-tain Range on Moffat County Road 7 for fun and camaraderie.

Saturday marked the start of the event's 21st year, and not much has changed -- everyone still gathers to have a good time and gain experience.

Shooters use two revolvers, a shotgun and rifle in four stages that are created by members of the Northwest Colorado Rangers to simulate Old West scenarios. The Rangers are a part of the Bears Ears Sportsman Club. Participants are expected to wear attire that reflects the old-time feel of the event.

"To be really good, you have to have really fast reflexes. I don't have those," said Jim Hasler, who founded the local event.

He had read about a similar match in California and thought there would be some interest locally in such an event.

"A lot of us had those guns in our gun collections, and we never had much chance to use them," he said.

This year, posses of competitors tried their hands at a scene based on a train robbery, where shooters had to run through a door and stand on boards on top of mattresses simulating riding on a train car.

Various targets were set up, and participants were timed, with deductions for missing the mark.

They also had stages based on the movie "Shane," a henhouse and the Battle of Adobe Walls.

"We all pretend we're 10-year-olds playing cowboys and Indians," Hasler, better known as "The Some Dense Kid," said.

The shooters create aliases and go by them, almost exclusively, throughout the day.

More than 20 participants turned out Satur-day for the event, which Hasler is excited to see continue to grow. The Rangers are members of the group Single Action Shooting Society, which boasts 80,000 members nationally.

At the end of the day, points are tallied and winners announced for various age groups, separated by gender.

And what do the top shooters win? Hasler says bragging rights.

"You're lucky if you get a glare and stare. 'Oooh, you beat me again,'" Roy "Big Timber" Stephenson said with a laugh.

But Hasler said Stephenson is one who usually wins. He has good reflexes and lots of practice.

Desperado James, or James Durkop, 13, is on the other end of that spectrum.

He's been shooting for a year, and this marked his second year at this competition.

His dad got him started shooting, and Durkop said he really enjoys the events, though his attire gets hot some days.

He usually doesn't have any competitors in his age group, but he does his best regardless.

"He's going to be a good shooter someday," the Maybell Maverick, Ron Stoffle, said.

But, no matter what skill level, all those shooting use caution with their firearms.

"We're real careful about where we point the guns, whether they're loaded or not loaded," Hasler said.

The Rangers' next two-day match is held in conjunction with Grand Olde West Days during Memorial Day weekend. Hasler expects more than 100 shooters from all over the country.

He encourages anyone interested to come out to an event. If a participant does not have all the firearms necessary, others will lend their guns to get the beginner started.

For more information about the Northwest Colorado Ran-gers, call Ranger Captain Andy Bullen at 824-8407, Stephenson at 824-6098 or Hasler at 824-6601.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031 or mperry@craig-dailypress.com.

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