The world championships of Cowboy Action Shooting are underway at Founders Ranch in Edgewood. Each year, Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), the world-wide sanctioning organization for the sport, invites members from around the world to come to New Mexico to compete for the top titles. This year, a new twist on Western styling has been added.
The sport offers members a chance to experience some of the Old West lifestyle—albeit without the hardships—as they use replica 1850s-1900s firearms and dress in period-appropriate clothing.
Founders Ranch has a Western town, complete with shops, a saloon-style hall, chapel on a hill, and longhorn steer. Not only is the setting great, but watching competitors at a recent warm-up session, showed that even the fiercest of competitors enjoy the camaraderie as much as the sport. After a practice match they gave each other pointers and helped newer competitors with tips to speed up their game.
Shooting scenarios are never the same twice, and each match is all about speed and accuracy—and their members are impressive. It’s not unusual for top challengers, men and women, to accurately fire more than 30 rounds, hitting every single target, while switching from shotgun to rifle to revolver, all in under 30 seconds. In keeping with the period theme of the sport, every contestant must also dress the part of the Old West during competition.
For some, the creativity of their costumes is a point of pride and personal challenge, too, so costumes are also recognized at the annual awards night. This year, SASS has added a new category to its costume competition: Steampunk, a unique sub-genre of science fiction.
In announcing the new category, SASS Board member, Barb Ormand (Cat Ballou, SASS #55) explained, “For some time, many SASS costume aficionados have embraced the Steampunk genre by wearing Steampunk-inspired attire at matches across the country.”
“Steampunk will be a costume category only” with awards for Best Dressed Steampunk Men and Ladies, she explained. Additionally, Ormand clarified shooting match competitors who choose to compete in Steampunk attire will be considered to have met the costume requirement.
But exactly how does sci-fi meet the Old West? With a membership who already embraces fantasy by taking on an alias and dressing in Old West clothing to compete on the shooting range, it’s an easy leap to include Steampunk style. If you are unfamiliar with that style, think along the lines of the 1960s TV series, “Wild, Wild West,” or Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days.”
Steampunk has been described as retro-futurism. It’s a fantastical, alternate world where the retro style of Victorian- or Wild West-era clothing, culture, and architecture intersect with advanced technology dominated by steam-powered and mechanical gadgets because—in that perceived timeline—the invention of electricity and the internal combustion engine never happened.
SASS’ End of Trail will bring more than 600 competitors to Edgewood this year. Add to that family members traveling with competitors, and spectators who come to experience the event, and it quickly adds up to a significant number of visitors contributing to the local economy.
To encourage visitors and locals, alike, to enjoy this period and what our region has to offer, Greater Edgewood Area Chamber organized Cowboy Days—more than 25 events spread over a 16-day period from mid- to late-June, including Chautauquas (cultural events), live performances (Music & Brews Nite, and Chuckwagon BBQ Show), and plenty of other events in between, too.