Participation by women "makes for a lot more harmony to get the wife or girlfriend out," Wright said. You can spot a greenhorn in this sport a mile away. Beginners wear a stiff cowboy hat and gun belt over jeans and sneakers. Old-timers who have spent some cash over the years have invested in chaps, scarfs, fancy satin vests, pocket watches, spurs, and leather cuffs.
Women sometimes make their own Victorian-era dresses.
"When I first started, I was not wild about the outfits," said Brian D. Graham, a.k.a. "Doc Graham, the Oregon Trail chapter president. "Once you get into it, you find yourself always trying to find just the right cowboy hat and just the right cowboy boots that make you feel good."
The sport can get expensive. Ada County Sheriff's Deputy Brenda Glenn, who goes by "Dakota Star," sports a custom-made gun belt and holsters that cost $1,500, including engraved American Indian artwork.
Some participants really aren't in it for the competition or the precise historic dress. They just want to have fun.
And that's why Ryan Groves, an electronics professor at the College of Southern Idaho, showed up to one shooting match with a black mortar board on his head and sporting a full academic robe usually only worn by professors at graduation ceremonies.
Groves goes by the cowboy handle, "Irving, the 142nd Fastest Gun in the West." He gleefully blasted away with his huge original 1887 black powder 10-gauge through the day's stages.
"You get a lot of bang and boom and smoke," Groves said, his eyes twinkling from his performance.
The entire field stopped briefly and chuckled at Grove's thundercloud.
"He should get points just for the percussion value," one of the officials commented. "Next shooter up." If You Go…
BLACKS CREEK PUBLIC RIFLE RANGE: 2420 E. Kuna-Mora Road, Kuna, Idaho. Phone (208) 342-9614. Visitors are welcome at demonstration shootings; participants will share their gear with newcomers. Regular attendees typically spend between $1,500 and $2,000 to be properly outfitted, including a rifle, shotgun, two pistols, ammunition, gun belt, hat, boots and clothes. FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.shootmagazine.com or www.cowboyactionshooting.com.