By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
More than 60 marksmen and women with a taste for Old West regalia are spending the weekend on the outskirts of Gainesville as part of the annual Red River Showdown, held west of North Interstate 35 at Exit 498 in Gainesville.
Participants, most from other states, arrived Friday with real guns and unreal bullets and are still competing in multi-category target shooting for cash prizes of up to $1,000.
Events span through Sunday. All activities are sanctioned by the Cowboy Fast Draw Association and presented by the North Texas Society of Gunfighters (NTSG).
Ed Clayton, Oklahoma regional director of the Cowboy Fast Draw Association, said despite the gun theme, the main draw of the Showdown is simple.
“Fun,” he said. “Because there’s a criteria: safety first, fun second, competition third. And it’s like coming to a big family reunion and I don’t care where you’re at: Virginia, Kentucky, all over. It’s just a fun time, and then you put a competition on it and it gets nerve-wracking.”
The showdown contests simulate “fast draw” shooting through the use of actual revolvers — minus the hazard that comes with live ammunition. Shooters hit all their targets with wax bullets propelled by shotshell primer. In one Showdown variation, participants arrive dressed as Old West gunmen and stand among several shooting lanes and take turns a pair at a time, drawing and firing at targets as quickly as they can, often within half a second.
The shooter with the fastest time, three shoots in a row, wins a round. Specialty awards will be available to champions in all categories.
Competitor Linda “Kentucky Rose” Stinnett said Friday she began participating in Western-themed shootouts in 2004, with her husband. She now attends up to six annually, and this past week, made a long trip to Gainesville from Kentucky, as she has in years past.
“We both enjoy it,” she said. “It kind of takes you back to your younger days. My husband had cowboys and Indians, stagecoaches and guns and all that when he was growing up.
“The more you shoot and practice, the better your aim gets, and your speeds,” she added. “I’ve pretty well hit my speed.”
As with Gainesville’s 2012 installment of the Showdown, competitors arrive from states as variant as Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, Arizona and California.
“It’s just competition that brings everybody back, and you create relationships that are all over this country,” Clayton said Friday.
The Showdown also includes vintage Western clothing vendors, “chuck wagon” cooking, an Old West costume contest and live entertainment.
For more information, visit www.cowboyfastdrawassociation.com or e-mail email@example.com.