Electricians, financial analysts and students are all typical day jobs that people have. But what if you found out that some of these people have an alter ego?
A group of shooters that congregate at Delaware County Field and Stream gun club in Media, PA for Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) competitions. This activity is held once a month from April to October and although undiscovered in this area, the guys who participate love the sport. CAS is an event where competitors game up against each other using live ammunition to be the fastest cowboy in Media.
This event is a time period shoot based solely around the cowboy era, which lasted from 1873 to 1900. All of the contestants are required to use guns that were made or modeled after a weapon from that era. Another twist is that they have to dress as if they were cowboys. Because they are portraying a cowboy there is yet another exciting twist to this event. They must not reveal their real names, so everyone has an alias that they use during the competition.
Six Gun Blues, Tonacka Wind and Firehunter are just some of the aliases that are used during these shoots. Paul Hight, who goes by Ohio Paul, is a range officer at Field and Stream. He has been a participant for the past five years and takes advantage of every chance he gets to break out his spurs and shotguns.
“It’s nice to take a break from the everyday ‘work, eat, sleep’ routine,” Hight says. “It’s really a lot of fun to actually live out my childhood dreams of wanting to be a cowboy.”
Aside from the materialistic things that make CAS what it is, the game itself is just as important. There are two stages, black powder and high power. The objective is to shoot the targets as fast and accurately as possible. Every cowboy must complete each stage twice and are timed on how quickly they can shoot targets.
Though time is important in the competition, accuracy is also a big way to lose points. If they miss a target, than they will get a five second penalty added to their overall time. Once everyone has completed all of the rounds, the initial times and penalties will be added up to determine the winner.
Each stage has metal or paper targets set up and the cowboys are given rules of what guns to use and different scenarios that may come into play. For example, there will be four targets up representing the different card suits. You will then draw a card from an actual deck and whatever suit you draw, you must shoot the matching target with a derringer pistol. So if you draw a four of hearts, you must shoot the steel plate that has the heart on it.
That is just one of the many possible stages that can arise from CAS. “Sometimes the stages are simple,” Hight said. “But then other times they will have us climb onto a wooden horse, shoot the targets and then get off, which consumes a lot of time.”
Creativity goes a long way in CAS and there are national competitions where the outfits and scenarios go even bigger. Hight has never competed in one, but has visited them to see what ideas he could bring back to Media. One concept they are really trying to promote is gathering more shooters to participate.
The national competition is very diverse and includes men, women and teenagers. Field and Stream has one female teenager who competes alongside her dad and they are always looking for more young people to keep this legacy going.
Although CAS is finished for this year, Hight cannot wait until the season starts back up. He is always on the lookout for new wardrobe pieces and remains active at Field and Stream to maintain his aiming and precision.
“I can’t wait until next season starts already,” Hight said. “Cowboy Action Shooting has introduced me to friends from all over the area and it is great to be a part of this community.”