Get into a six-gun frame of mind at Winter Range

Get Into A Six-Gun Frame Of Mind At Winter Range

Single Action Shooting Society’s National Shooting Competition
Single Action Shooting Society’s National Shooting Competition

PHOENIX (circa 1886) – -( Hankering to escape this hectic century and get into a rootin’ tootin’ six-gun frame of mind while traveling back to that bygone era when steel-eyed Pistoleros roamed the Wild West?

Single Action Shooting Society in Action
Single Action Shooting Society in Action

Well pard, just hop on your old cayuse and mosey over to the Single Action Shooting Society’s national shooting competition during the annual Winter Range on Feb. 25-March 1 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, which is just a short trail ride along I-17 to the outskirts of town along Carefree Highway.

Be sure to peruse the wanted posters because you might just run into pistol-packin’ characters like E.Z. Shot, Nine Toe Joe, or Mad Coyote. Also, stop by and say howdy to Pea Patch in her feathered hat or the entertaining Brighton Belle as well.

Yep, those are the trail names of real-life characters from the Arizona Territorial Company of Rough Riders who are helping to stage this classic cowboy event, but in the spirit of the old West, those names are not necessarily the ones town marshals or Pinkertons will uncover on their birth certificates.

You can even don your rowdy cowboy garb and come do a little Western play acting yourself — it’s all part of visiting or participating in this crowd-pleasing national cowboy action shooting competition where you can see shooters compete using authentic or replica Western firearms.

You might be flabbergasted by quick-shooting main match participants using firearms from the late 1800s or be thrilled by horse-mounted desperadoes galloping full speed across the desert floor to blast balloons with their trusty six guns.

Don’t miss a visit to Sutlers Row, where good folks will be offering their wares, ranging from period firearms and clothing to leather goods and fancy folderol, plus hundreds of articles used by working cowboys and town folk of the era.

What’s more, period militaria from the Indian Wars to Cuba will be on display.

It’s another piece of history coming to life in the picturesque upper Sonoran desert of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s 1,700-acre Ben Avery Shooting Facility, which is the largest multi-purpose public shooting facility in the United States.

You can also hang around for Saturday night grub and be entertained by “Pioneer Pepper and the Sunset Pioneers,” who will take you back to the nostalgic era when singing cowboys livened up the nights (or the Silver Screen) with their Wild West musical shows.

By the way, you can enjoy this exciting Wild West event for free, but please bring a $5 donation to tie your horse to the hitchin’ rail or park your ranch wagon near the horse corrals.

Plus, there’ll be plenty of tender beef steak, strong cowboy coffee and savory range-cooked beans from the vendors (along with lots of other food), so you can hang on the feed bag while rambling about.

The Ben Avery Shooting Facility is located in north Phoenix on Carefree Highway just west of I-17 (Exit 223). Daily event times are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Wednesday, Feb. 25 through Saturday, Feb. 28, and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday, March 1.

While in the shooting areas, spectators will be required to wear eye protection (sunglasses and corrective glasses are acceptable) and ear protection is strongly suggested, especially for children.

For more information about Winter Range, visit