Sport keeps gunfighting skills sharp

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Omarama man Charles Innes, aka the Lindis Ranger, is making a name for himself in the shooting world.
However, his success has come in a field only a select group of people in New Zealand probably realise exists. Mr Innes recently finished 10th out of 23 competitors in the duellist category (unaided, right-handed shooting) at the End of Trail World Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This year’s event attracted more than 640 competitors across several categories.
Of those, Mr Innes was ranked 289th overall.
Before the world championships, he won the cowboy clay target category and was third in the duellist category (22nd overall) at a competition in Cortez, Colorado.
Cowboy action shooting, also known as Western action shooting, is a competitive sport that originated in Southern California in the early 1980s. It requires competitors, who dress the part, to use firearms typical of the mid-to-late 19th century, such as single-action revolvers, lever-action rifles chambered in pistol calibres, and side-by-side double-barrelled shotguns, with or without external hammers, or pump-action shotguns with external hammers. Both original and reproduction guns can be used.
All handguns must be single-action, meaning the hammer must be manually cocked before each shot is fired. Competition generally requires four guns _ two revolvers, a shotgun, and a rifle _ and involves shooting over 12 stages, which mimic scenes of the old west. Stages are always different, each typically requiring 10 revolver rounds, nine or 10 rifle rounds, and two to eight shotgun rounds.
Targets are usually steel plates that ring when hit. Reactive targets, such as steel knockdown plates or clay birds, are also used. Misses add 5 seconds to the competitor’s time, while safety violations and other procedural violations add 10 seconds. Mr Innes, who took up the sport three years ago and has two South Island and one New Zealand championships to his name, said he had always felt comfortable with a gun in hand. “I pretty much have always been interested in revolvers and old guns. I got invited to a club [Central Otago Pistol Club] to fire some revolvers, so I joined up and then got involved with the cowboy action side of things. It went from there.”
He said the aspect he enjoyed most about the sport was getting to shoot with like-minded people from New Zealand and beyond. “It’s the guys you shoot with, really. You become quite a close family. You compete against yourself pretty much _ you’re always trying to better yourself,” he said.
“The competition over there is massive. You can shoot when and where you want, and ammo is a lot cheaper over there. The guys that do it are pretty serious about it. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world.” Mr Innes said success in the sport was not only about accuracy.
“Technique is a really good thing. Just doing everything quickly and efficiently. Sometimes it’s not about speed _ if you do it successfully and efficiently, you get the result.
“I’ll go out there and try to beat my best time, or improve my shooting . . . and try to get better.”
He gets in as much dry-firing practice as he can at home, and also shoots at the Central Otago club every Sunday.
His next assignment is the New Zealand championships in November