Thursday, September 27, 2007


Some of the songs were lullabies learned as a child, some were hymns learned at church and some were made up. A good night horse was important to the night guard. Its eyes need to be sharper than those of a day horse. It needed to be calm, not inclined to shy at shadows or sudden noise. It needed to be able to gallop at night without putting a foot into a prairie-dog hole. And, it needed to be able to handle cattle boldly in case of a stampede. This was critical for on the trail nighttime was stampede time.

Nights of lightning and rain seemed to tighten the cattle’s nerves to the point of stampede. Then the cannon shot of prairie thunder would set them off. But even on clear, tranquil nights ordinary things, such as a coyote’s yelp, a horse’s whinny, or the flare of a match as a cowboy lit a cigarette could start a stampede. On one drive a shred from a cowboy’s pouch of tobacco lodged in a steer’s eye setting off a raging charge that resulted in the death of two riders and the loss of 400 cows. Occasionally the herd would take off for no apparent reason at all. A herd that had broken once or twice was always likely to go again and again. Joseph McCoy wrote that in a number of herds a half a dozen troublemakers might take a “chronic fright from which they never recover. They would rather run then eat, anytime. The stampeders may be seen close together at all times, as if consulting how to raise Cain and get off with a burst of speed. It is actually economy to shoot down a squad of the vicious stampeders.”

Oddly, when cattle stampeded they uttered no sound at all. A trail hand sleeping off-watch would suddenly be aware of a deep rumbling, a trembling of the sod beneath him. The longhorns ran with surprising speed. Their hooves pounding the ground and their horns clashing as they thundered along. Two or three cowboys, usually the best riders, would spur hard to get out in front of the stampede. Then depending solely on “the sureness of the horse’s feet to keep from changing hells,” they reined back to try to slow the charge. Other hands would ride at one side of the point pressing in to turn the herd. Sometimes they flailed their slickers in the faces of the leaders, or fired their six-shooters near their ears to get them to turn. The leaders might dodge and go down, trampled to death. After three of four terrifying miles the cattle usually began to circle, then mill. For the hands this was the most dangerous time with the cows jammed together so close that a trapped horseman might be jostled from his horse. At the end of one stampede near the Blue River in Nebraska, the horrified cowboys came upon the remains of a comrade who had fallen to the ground. Nothing was left but a gun butt.

Usually the only harm done on a stampede though was to the animals and the cattleman’s profits. In a four-mile run on a hot night a beef could lose up to 50 pounds and the spooky herd would arrive at the railhead looking mighty stringy and unpalatable to the buyers. Worse yet were the number of cattle lost. In the thunder of a stampede cattle bruised, crushed and gored one another. In the worst stampede in history, in July 1876, a big herd plunged into a gully near the Brazos River in Texas, the leaders crushed by those behind. When it was over 2,000 steers were either dead or missing.

Edited by Fighting Eagle

Source: The Old West by Time Life Books

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thunder Valley - September Newsletter

Howdy Cowfolks:

The September Main Match was given another excellent day of weather. The temperature was 70 degrees, low humidity, and a nice breeze passed through the range during the day. 58 shooters showed up to throw lead down range, 18 classes were represented, and 60% made the bonus rifle shot at 52 yds. Congratulations to the eight folks that had a “Clean” match: Nomore Slim, Buffalo Bud Harden, Longshot Tom, Abu, Cole Coffee, Flintlock Fields, Dingo, and Lorenzo Lain.

Folks were geared up and ready to practice for the upcoming Indiana State competition. Lead was flyin’ and smoke was rollin’ down range all day. Repeated Yeehaa ‘s and other assorted yells were heard throughout the match. We had four brand new shooters, and total of six new faces at the match. Sunset Sam, Batjack Shootist, and his wife Paulette Brown joined as club members. We thank you folks for signing up to support our club.

Reminders: (1) October is the month for our 3-way match competition at Knob Creek, on the 1st Sunday, Pleasant Valley, on the 2nd weekend, and Thunder Valley, on the 3rd Saturday. Come on down, shoot at all three locations, and see how you stack up in an 18 stage competition. Awards will be given for the main match at each club, and then final awards at Thunder Valley for the eighteen stage event. Should be interesting !!. (2) The November match at Thunder Valley will offer camping and a pitch-in dinner Saturday immediately following the match. Our shootin’ pards from Illinois, Missouri, and northern Indiana already have their bags packed, and the meals planned. These folks can only join us a few times a year, so bring your favorite covered dish and drinks, sit around the campfire to hear some tall tales with lots of braggin’, and enjoy some Kentuckiana hospitality at it’s very best. It’s a hoot !!!!

Happy September birthdays to : Baron Von Csco, Christian, Cumberland Drifter, Don’t Know Diddly, Dutchman Swart, Longshot Tom, Marshall Spencer Owen, Nomore Slim, Smiley, and Woodchuck Willy.

We have been very fortunate this year to have lots of new faces show up at our range. Some have been new shooters, and others have been experienced shooters that just came to visit and check out our facility. We try hard to make an extra effort to cause folks to feel at home and have a fun day.

I would also like to offer a few comments that may make your day at the range a little more efficient, demonstrate proper range operation for new and less experienced shooters, and improve the overall operation at any range that you may attend.

Timer Operation – Larger numbers of shooters requires a larger number of posses, and then we often find a posse shooting at the adjacent stage. It is very important for the timer operator to immediately cover the receiver of the timer, as soon as the shooter has finished, and immediately report the time to the score keeper, audibly and visually. Visually noting and immediately verbally reporting the score will reduce the chance of picking up a shot from the adjacent stage and giving the shooter an erroneous raw time. Spotters should be polled after the raw time has been reported to the score keeper. Polling spotters prior to verbally reporting the score provides a substantial risk of picking up the sound of an unwanted shot.

Score Keeper – The score keeper should be in a position near the timer operator at the conclusion of the stage. When the timer operator reports the raw time to the score keeper, he/she, should then audibly repeat the raw time and any penalties/bonuses to the timer operator. This will reduce the risk of an incorrect recording of the raw time and penalties/bonuses.

Spotters – This is one of the most important job assignments in the posse. Spotters should position themselves at different places behind, but near, the firing line. Spotters should be able to clearly see all targets while the shooter progresses through the scenario. It may require the spotter to change position in order to maintain a clear view of each target while the shooter is engaging each one. Both visual and audible skills must be used by the spotter in order to provide an accurate accounting of the target strikes. Calls made by the spotters will determine the outcome of any match, and each spotter should provide their undivided attention to the task at hand while the shooter completes the scenario. Final match results can be drastically incorrect if the spotters are not giving their full attention to the job assignment.

These comments/suggestions are intended to assist each of us in improving our general range operations skills, and will be an aide to providing more accurate accounting of the event at any CAS range that you may attend. Hope it is helpful to you. In future newsletters, other posse duties, firearms usage, ammunition reloading tips, tips on other accessories, building or improving your gun cart, costuming, and a nearly endless list of hints, tips and suggestions can be forwarded to shooters. Many times following a match we all gather at the range or at our vehicles to discuss what could have been done better. If you have any comments/suggestions that would be useful as instructional material, or general information, please sent it to me, and I’ll post it in the newsletter.

The Indiana State competition for 2007 has come and gone, and the folks at Deer Creek Conservation Club deserve a huge round of applause. This was a very well organized match that presented a challenge, with lots of fun and excitement. The scenarios offered lots of movement with a great variety of targets. The shooter books were well written, and range officials provided concise and accurate descriptions to the shooters prior to beginning each stage. Food and beverage arrangements were excellent. The camp grounds were excellent. The operation for sign-in, and all office operations were excellent. The awards presentation was excellent. Darn, I guess the whole thing was excellent . Thanks to all of you folks at Deer Creek for all of your hard work, long hours, and another G R E A T !!!, State Match.

Deer Creek has decided to take a break from the Indiana State event and the 2008 Indiana State will be held at Cutter’s Raiders, in Etna Green, Indiana, approximately one hour north of Deer Creek. The folks organizing this event are experienced shooters and match organizers. All should look forward to attending and help promote the 2008 Indiana State at an awesome facility. Checkout their website via the SASS website, Cutter’s Raiders Paradise Pass. We will keep you posted on the specifics related to that event as they are made available.

The members and regular shooters from Thunder Valley, Pleasant Valley, and Knob Creek went to the 2007 Indiana State ready to blaze away with their cowboy firearms and equipment. The following is a summary of the awards presentations. Monthly reading, “Stampede” is attached.

Indiana State 2007 – Main Match

Results listed are for awards presented to members and regular shooters at Thunder Valley, Pleasant Valley, and Knob Creek. See the Deer Creek Conservation Club website for all detailed scores.

Indiana State Top Cowboy - Doc Molar, Indiana State Top Cowgirl - Two Sons, Top Gun – Three Gun Cole

49er: Vaquero Hayes 1st place & Indiana 49er Champion, 7th overall, Indy Kid 3rd place, Fighting Eagle 4th place

B-Western: Judge Mint Day 4th place

Duelist: M’Bogo 4th place & Indiana Duelist Champion

Ladies Duelist: Calamity Kelly 1st place & Indiana Ladies Duelist Champion

Frontiersman: Nomore Slim 2nd place & Indiana Frontiersman Champion, Smiley ( Sheep Dip) 4th place, Pee Wee 5th place

Frontier Cartridge: Randy Atcher 3rd place

Ladies FC: Lizzy of the Valley 1st place & Indiana Ladies Front Cart Champion

Front Cart Duelist: Abu 5th place

Front Cart GF: Hardscrabble 2nd place & Indiana Front Cart Gunfighter Champion, Manatee 4th place

Gunfighter: Max Montana 1st place & Indiana Gunfighter Champion, 11th overall, Jose Gigante 4th place

Modern: Leadville Clyde 2nd place & Indiana Modern Champion, 9th overall

Ladies Modern: Short Fuse Ruby 1st place

Seniors: Redneck Rebel 4th place

Ladies Senior: Hesibah Hawke 3rd place

Silver Seniors: Drew First 1st place

Traditional: Black Tom 5th place, 8th overall

Clean Match: Nomore Slim & Lorenzo Lain

Redneck Rebel

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hoosier Ambush 07

Well, the shooting has stopped and everyone got home safe and sound and had a good nights rest in the comfort of their own bed. No listening to Jose or Judge snoring and an air conditioner that works properly. Amen!

I didn't shoot my best or worse, so I guess that's a push. I'd be happier had I not had a proceedural on a stage, but then it didn't matter as far as scoring goes. To my surprise, there were only four gunfighters at the shoot and so I got fourth place since Max Montana, Lassiter and Frenchy Yukon were in the category and they're pretty good. Judge ran into the same issue with B-Western, only four competitors, it appears that people are heading towards the black-powder categories. Its funny how categories grow and shrink with each state match as people look to either new challenges or to get away from better shooters and score a victory.

I put some of the pictures I took up on my Flickr page and will add Copper's pictures when he gets them to me.

No scores yet, so I really don't have an idea of exactly how badly I was beat by Frenchy, but I figure its not close. Other members of the two clubs we are members of did well with at least two Indiana State Champs and a couple of firsts and seconds. In all, something like 40 awards, good I suppose, but getting an award for showing up isn't much to be crowing about, so I doubt you'll see me and Judge beating our chest.

It was fun and the weather was infinitely better than the previous three years, so that's good. There were plenty of stages with lots of movement on them and a challenge here or there. In all I think I had five misses on ten stages and the forementioned proceedural, not bad, like I said, I'd be happier without that proceedural because that's a severe lack of concentration.

Now on to finish unpacking and processing brass.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sickness and the 87

Saturday was beautiful and a perfect day for CAS. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling the same. I had been struggling with a sinus infection for several days and when the alarm went off I almost called Jose and told to him to go on without me. But, no matter how attractive the thought of using a movie line in real life was I decided to tough it out and shoot anyway. I would pay for it on Sunday.

Two things made me decide to shoot. Next week was the state match and I had just picked up my 87 earlier in the week. So I took lots of medicine, packed my gear and off I went.

Overall the shooting was horrible, but I really couldn’t expect much with how I felt. On the other hand I really had a kick shooting the 87. It’s tons of fun and I really enjoyed every minute of it. I don’t know how competitive the weapon will be, but it’s just gratifying to be throwing a lever on a shotgun and watching those big ol’ shells shooting out the top. My plan was to shoot the gun and get it out of my system then use it for fun in the future, but after the match I played with the drop 2 and started to get a handle on how that worked and now I’m thinking of shooting it again. I wanted the 87 from the first time I thought about CAS and I’m glad I finally picked one up.

Of course I didn’t get out of bed on Sunday, and now I’m just praying I get better before the Hoosier Ambush this weekend, but that’s another story.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Time to make the doughnuts go bang

Apologies to the fine doughnut makers at Dunkin.

I've recently tried the relatively new gun powder specially designed for the larger cases cowboy shooters are often utilizing, .45 Colt, .44 Special/Magnum, 44/40, 38/40... Trail Boss powder is made by IMR (under Hodgdon) and is basically a fast burning powder that is more volumous due to its novel doughnut shape (see pic). Gunblast has a nice article on this powder and I won't bore you with details on its benefits. Suffice it to say is it will nearly eliminate the possibility of a double charge and offers more consistent velocities at lower load levels than a normal powder.

My experience with this powder started at my Dillon 550 in the Dillon powder measure. It metered very poorly in my opinion with the doughnuts trickling out after the casemouth of the cartridge pulled away from the expanding die resulting in little doughnuts of powder all over my press. It wasn't enough to alter the charge significantly, but it was very annoying and messy. After reading the gunblast article, I bought a Lee Pro disc powder measure and it works great on my Dillon press without throwing doughnuts everywhere. I liked it so much, I bought another since they're only $20. I've since heard advice on using the Dillon measure to change over the the larger rifle charge bar, but I won't bother since I've found something that works well.

Last weekend, I shot the trailboss loads out of my rifle and its very accurate, if I took my time, I could put a cloverleaf on one of the rifle targets, as it was, all the hits on steel were touching at CAS rifle distance, so I'm very pleased. The other thing I noticed was that it didn't seem to have as much blow-by as the other smokeless powders out there, its not a big deal to the function of the rifle, but its a bit of a bother when you're shooting to have puffs of hot gas in your face. I was hoping TB would be a little cleaner than Clays or Tightgroup, but it really isn't, at least not in my '73.

Anyway, I'll most likely start using this powder in all my CAS loads so I can have the little added reassurance of safety even though it costs more than other powders. The one other thing I want to try is the grits/clays load to see what it is like to shoot and how much trouble it is. As much as I hate cranking the handle, I'm guessing its too much trouble, but if they shoot like they are claimed to shoot, its at least worth a try. I just have to find some grits.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Katana vs Ma Duce

This is pretty cool, a Japanese TV show pits a katana vs an M2 .50cal machine gun.

The katana loses (of course) but its pretty impressive that it splits several bullets before breaking.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wild Bunch Guns [update]

This is an update to part one of Wild Bunch guns.

So I'm in one of the local gunshops the other day and come across yet another 1911A1 mil-spec clone. This time from Thompson (Auto-Ordinance) and it might be the perfect Wild Bunch pistol. Its a faithful reproduction of the 1911A1 and has the added benefit of having the government markings on it. They have two parkerized models, one with wood grips, the other with plastic wood imitation (yuk!). Thompson also offers two stainless non-WWII models.

Perhaps the best thing overall about these pistols is that the example I saw at the local shop was $449 (plastic grips). That's pretty good for a 1911, not as cheap as my Rock Island, but it may be made of sturdier stuff. For those wondering about the quality, these are made by Kahr arms who bought Auto-Ordinance and are producing new guns and not assembling them from spare parts. $449 for an American made 1911 is outstanding if you ask me, I might have to look into getting one.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Buy! Buy! Buy!

So what's a single gun-head supposed to do when you don't have a car payment and just got a nice raise? Buy guns of course. Over the last month, I've picked up a couple of new guns. First of all, I traded in my SW99 that I don't carry anymore on a new Rock Island 1911. I wanted a mil-spec 1911 for the Wild Bunch matches so's I could shoot it no matter where the WB match was or the rules involved. I also wanted to have it so I could present, at some point, a Wild Bunch category to one or both of the clubs, perhaps next year.

I was going to wait for a range report on the Rock before posting, but in its first outing, the firing pin peened and stuck (CHEAP Philipino steel!). After getting a tool steel Ed Brown in it, I took it down to TVR and the damn slide stop kept engaging, grrrr... I think I have everything ironed out for this weekend, but then you never know. Anyway, it bites my hand, so I ordered a commander hammer for it and I'll try that to see how it goes, I got one of the Swenson original commander hammers since I love the look of it and want to keep it as period as I can. The other thing I want to do is experiment with the trigger to see if I can improve it. If I can, then I'll look into my Kimber's trigger as well since it's got some creep in it.

The other gun I just bought is one of the Norinco 97 pumpguns. Like Judge, I got it through our pard Vaquero Hayes who I had do an action job on it. He suggested I get the 26" model and have it cut to 20" instead of getting the 18" model. What sold it was that the distributor didn't have any 18s in stock. I just got word that it was ready and need to go pick it up along with Judge picking up his 87. My thoughts on that are having a spare 97 for the matches and a 97 with nice wood on it. I may get walnut furniture for my first 97 and work on it even further if its not as smooth as the one I get from Vaquero. We'll see.

Other things I've been working on are the brass shotshells with smokeless powder, I'll get them one day, one day... I've also loaded up some 45 Colt with Trailboss powder to see if it works any better than the others I've tried. I'd like to get a clean powder that doesn't give a lot of blowby in the rifle like I get with Clays or Tightgroup. I might try the Clays/Grits solution at some point, but I'm not a real fan of doing things that manufacturers say is unsafe.