Grange fairgrounds gets taste of wild West

bmilazzo@centredaily.comApril 26, 2014 

— The Grange Fairgrounds looked like a movie set from an old Western on Saturday.

Horses accompanied dozens of wranglers dressed in cowboy hats and chaps, or other attire specific to the old West.

When the range master signaled for him to start, Matt Miller stampeded around the course with a .45-caliber revolver in one hand and another a hold of his steed, aiming and shooting at balloon targets on the run.

Miller is a cowboy-mounted shooter who owns a 20-acre farm outside of Jamestown, N.Y.

For the past four years, he’s been a part of a group based out of western New York called the Stagecoach Outriders — a cowboy mounted shooting club formed four years ago.

Its members travel primarily to Ohio and Pennsylvania a few times a year for shooting competitions, said Barbara Walters, of Stagecoach Outriders.

On Saturday, the group made its way to the Grange Fairgrounds for a Cowboy Mounted Shooting competition with about 105 wranglers who ranged in age from 12 to their late 70s. The objective was to shoot ten balloon targets in the fastest time while riding through a course using a single-action revolver with blank ammunition.

“It’s good, healthy competition,” Walters said.

George Hampe, of New Brighton, has been around horses for more than 50 years. He said he became involved in the sport a little more than a year ago for the fun of it.

“You do it because it’s fun and challenging,” Hampe said.

Other cowboy-mounted shooters said the group of competitors is like a family away from family.

“There isn’t a shooter here that wouldn’t give you his gun or the horse from under him then applaud if you beat him,” Walters said. “It’s the most fun on a horse you can get with the best people you’ll meet.”

Walters, who also lives near Jamestown, N.Y., has been involved in the sport for about four years, after she went to see a show with her family.

“I was hooked,” she said.

The event was hosted by Stagecoach Outriders and sponsored by Universal Media. Company President Don Young said he will sponsor the event again next year, which be will held again at the Grange fairgrounds sometime next spring.

Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.

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