Right On Tar­get!

A sport that harkens back to the Wild, Wild West!

More of Our Canada - - Contents - Janice Storch, High River, Alta.

This tal­ented pho­tog­ra­pher en­joys cap­tur­ing all the ac­tion of a fast-grow­ing, fam­ily-friendly sport known as “cow­boy-mounted shoot­ing.”

Cow­boy mounted shoot­ing, also known as sim­ply “mounted shoot­ing,” is a com­pet­i­tive eques­trian sport that chal­lenges par­tic­i­pants to quickly and ac­cu­rately ne­go­ti­ate an arena with a pre-de­ter­mined pat­tern of tar­gets and shoot those tar­gets, all while rid­ing a horse.

I’ve been tak­ing photos of mounted-shoot­ing events for the past two years. As the main pho­tog­ra­pher for mounted shoot­ing in Al­berta, I at­tend about five events across the prov­ince each year. I’ve also trav­elled to Bri­tish Columbia to take pho­to­graphs for one of their as­so­ci­a­tions.

More than 20 years ago, com­pet­i­tive shoot­ing as­so­ci­a­tions be­gan to spring up south of the bor­der, created in the spirit of the mounted soldiers and Wild West cowboys of a by­gone era. Mounted shoot­ing re­quires skill in both horse­man­ship and tar­get shoot­ing, and is among the fastest-grow­ing equine sports in North Amer­ica.

All as­so­ci­a­tions and com­pe­ti­tions are heav­ily reg­u­lated by sev­eral gov­ern­ing bod­ies, whereby the safety of horses, rid­ers and spec­ta­tors is para- mount. The sin­gle-ac­tion re­volvers used in com­pe­ti­tion carry five blank car­tridges filled with black pow­der and have a fir­ing range of 20 feet. Hav­ing ten tar­gets in the arena for each pat­tern means the rider must carry two re­volvers, and change guns half­way through the course, which adds to the drama, ex­cite­ment and skill re­quired in this ac­tion-packed sport. Most elite rid­ers com­plete a course in un­der 17 sec­onds.

Mounted shoot­ing is quickly be­com­ing one of the most pop­u­lar equine sports in our coun­try, with at least nine as­so­ci­a­tions from Nova Sco­tia to Bri­tish Columbia. Rid­ers of all lev­els have rep­re­sented Canada at the World Cham­pi­onships for the past sev­eral years and have brought home sev­eral ti­tles.

Mounted- shoot­ing com­pe­ti­tions usu­ally in­clude a va­ri­ety of age cat­e­gories and skill lev­els. It’s truly a fam­ily-ori­ented sport, with kids, moms and dads all trav­el­ling to­gether to com­pe­ti­tions. The sport is ex­hil­a­rat­ing to com­pete in and al­ways a thrill to watch. n

Clock­wise from top left: A mounted shooter reaches for his sec­ond gun as he rounds the turn into the home stretch; star­ing down the bar­rel of the gun as it fires at the bal­loon tar­get; one of the many fe­male mounted shoot­ers who com­pete in the sport,...

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