Starting Friday with a half-day, last weekend was awesome.
After work on Friday, Jeri, Amy and I went to the La Brea Tarpits, which I'd never been to. I've been to LACMA several times for class, so I've seen the pond with the mammoths, but never inside the museum. So that was rad. Woolly mammoths, mastodons, sabre-toothed cats, short-nosed bears, dire wolves, giant ground sloths, American lions. It was funny reading the descriptions of each of these animals, because they all sounded like they were written by a personified Past trying to one-up the present. "You like lions? African lions? Your lions SUCK. American lions were bigger and more muscle-y!" "How about bears. You think your grizzly bears are pretty big? Our short-nosed bears could kick a grizzly's loser BUTT. Taller and beefier." It seems that every animal from ancient LA were bigger, cooler versions of today's animals. Even their storks were a foot taller! The child in me was delighted by the whole thing. I remember the awe and fascination when we visited the natural history museum when I was a kid. Even today, seeing these very real skeletons of wondrous monsters is like catching a glimpse into another reality. These things existed! They walked around where I walk! (Dinosaurs are even more of a trip because at least these mammals pulled from the tar resemble animals that exist today.) It was neat seeing the active excavation sites with bones protruding from the black puddles.
After La Brea we went over to Chris Faris' house for a movie night with Nobody. Good food and company.
Saturday I got to play some co-op Red Dead Redemption with my buddy Will in Idaho. Saturday night was Brendoman's birthday, which we celebrated at a Chuck E. Cheese in disguise in Buena Park.
Sunday I skipped church (shhhh!) to attend my first ever Cowboy Action Shooting event. (Quick primer on CAS -- it's a club where everyone shows up in period-authentic clothing and competes in various shooting events. Check these websites for more information.) I'd heard about it online and from Andy over at Walker '47. I was originally going to go just to observe, but Andy recommended I join the "New Shooters" class. I'm so glad I did. For just $13 I got about 6 hours of practice/advice/training.
I showed up at about 8:45am at Raahauge's Range in Corona to register. Just walking up to registration was a thrill, because there were already many men and women there in full cowboy get-ups, hauling around their cowboy carts loaded with pistols, rifles, and shotguns. At 9am everyone gathered under the awning for announcements from a guy who could be my friend Ric in 20 years. Looked a lot like him, had a very similar sense of humor, and even his vocal inflections were the same! Anyhow, this set the mood for the day: friendly and fun. Right off the bat all the cowboys (and girls) were ribbing each other with all kinds of inside jokes.
After announcements, several experienced members rounded up the newbs and took us all over to one of the ranges. There they brought out about 10 different revolvers for us to look at and handle so we could get an idea of what we liked and what we didn't. They were mostly Rugers and Peacemaker clones, but there was an 1872 Open Top and a Peacemaker with a Birds Head grip. After looking them over, we each got to put five rounds through them. I chose the Open Top with the 7.5" barrel, much longer than all the others. I put all five shots on target (and fairly quickly too, if I may say so), but they were only about 10'-15' away, so that wasn't too hard. They showed us the proper technique for the fastest two-handed shooting, which is firing the pistol with your right hand while thumbing the hammer with your left. Tricky to get at first, but definitely faster than one hand once you've got it.
Next the cowboys brought out the rifles! Mostly Marlins, but there were a few Uberti 1873s, an 1866 "Yellow Boy," and an 1892. We were each given six rounds to let off. They put away the '73s, so I chose the Yellow Boy. Again, all six on target. The rifle targets were roughly double the distance of the pistol targets, but again, not very far. Very easy to hit if you take any time at all. The matches are designed for speed, though, so merely hitting these targets isn't the difficulty.
Last out were the shotguns. Several double barrels, one with external hammers, several 1897 pump actions (seen in No Country for Old Men and The Wild Bunch), and one 1887 Lever Action. Guess which one I picked? Terminator 2 all the way. This was a Chinese-made copy of the original Winchester, and the cowboys said these guns were very finicky, which is disappointing. The certainly have the most satisfying action in my opinion. The shotgun targets seemed to be about midway between the rifle and pistol targets. Again, not difficult to hit if you're not going for speed.
Next came lunch, and then our first timed attempts! The set-up was this: 5 shots from the pistol, 9 from the rifle, and 2 from the shotgun. We got to pick our favorite gun from each category. Our instructions were to place 2 on the left, 1 in the middle, and 2 on the right for the pistol; then 1-2-3 repeated 2x for the rifle; then knock over both shotgun targets. They have a special timer that stops the clock after the last shot. You start with your three guns on the table in front of you, your hands in the air. When you hear the buzzer, you go for your pistol and start shooting. You're penalized for missed shots (5 second penalty), procedural violations (shooting the targets out of order - 10 seconds), and safety violations (leaving the actions closed - 10 seconds). The first few guys who went all forgot to leave their levers open on their rifles, and they shot the pistol targets out of order. A friend I made that day, Steve, was the only one out of the 18 of us who shot a completely clean round, no violations, though his time was about 45 seconds. I shot towards the end of the group. I missed one of the pistol targets and one of the shotgun, but my time was about 25 seconds, so my final time of about 35 brought me in at 3rd place for the class! I was milliseconds away from the second place shooter, too. We were supposed to get to shoot a second round, but with such a large group we didn't have time, unfortunately.
After thanking the very kind and generous instructors, I headed home. It was a really fun day, and at $13 I recommend it to anyone who likes shooting at all. I'd have paid much more easily.
Here's a demonstration and overview of Cowboy Action Shooting:
That night Amy and I finished the weekend by seeing Toy Story 3 with some friends.