J asper Parsintz, 12, aka Hot Shoot Jazz, wastes a few little green men during the SASS New Mexico State Championship, held this weekend at the Chisum Cowboys Gun Club shooting range just north of Roswell. Parsintz is from Bovina, Texas, and competes as a “Buckaroo.” (Timothy P. Howsare Photo)
When most people in Roswell think of the Wild West, a particular watering hole on U.S. 380 in the western outskirts of the city comes to mind.
But for local residents and their compadres throughout the Southwest who are members of the Single Action Shooting Society — SASS for short — the Wild West of the 1880s with authentic firearms and attire are as real to them as multitasking and emails are to the rest of us.
Kind of makes you a bit envious, doesn’t it?
Shooting enthusiasts young and old were in Roswell this weekend to compete in the SASS New Mexico State Championship.
The competition was held at the Chisum Cowboys Gun Club shooting range, a few miles north of the city on Jal Road. Two other gun clubs, the Chaparral Skeet Club and the Pecos Valley Gun Club, have their own ranges adjacent to the Chisum Cowboys.
Darrell Evans and his wife, “Two-Bit Tammy,” are both members of Chisum Cowboys.
Evans said the land for the three gun clubs is owned by the city, but the clubs had to clean up the land and put up all the buildings and range equipment at their own expense.
“This property used to look like the land over there,” he said while pointing to the open, untamed desert.
The Chisum Cowboys shooting range is actually a replica of an Old West town divided into several “bays” where the gunslingers shoot at stationary targets with rifles, pistols and shotguns.
Shooters are scored for speed and accuracy, Evans said.
Just like in any Old West town, there is a livery stable, a jail, general store, church and cemetery. For travelers brazen enough to spend the night, accommodations include the No-Tail Hotel, the Trail Kill Café and the Two-Bit Brothel.
And, of course, since this is Roswell, the last and final bay has a flying saucer with little green men as targets.
Every SASS member is required to select a shooting alias representative of a character or profession from the Old West or the western film genre.
For instance, Travis Boggus, of Moriarty, transforms into “Boggus Deal” when he straps on his pistol holsters.
Boggus said he has been participating in Cowboy Action Shooting for the past nine years and has won two state championships.
So what is Cowboy Action Shooting? Does anybody get killed and then buried on Boot Hill? Of course not. Safety is the No. 1 priority with SASS members. The only things they wear that are “non-Western” are goggles and earplugs.
According to the SASS website, Cowboy Action Shooting is a multi-faceted shooting sport in which contestants compete with firearms typical of those used in the taming of the Old West: single action revolvers, pistol-caliber lever action rifles and old-time shotguns. The shooting competition is staged in a unique, characterized, “Old West” style. It is a timed sport in which shooters compete for prestige on a course of different shooting stages.
Children as young as 9 can compete as “Buckaroos” shooting smaller-caliber weapons after they pass a hunter safety course. Women also compete.
Charlie May, aka John Henry Ledbetter, traveled from Wolfforth, Texas, to compete.
He said he has been shooting for 10 years and has competed in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona.
“I like the competition and the good friends you make,” he said.
The competition is tough, fast-paced, but not cutthroat. Everybody is there to encourage each other to do their best and have fun, May said.
“I spend $700 so I can take home a plaque as big as a paperback book,” May said.
Editor Timothy P. Howsare can be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or firstname.lastname@example.org.