Over 1,000 competitors from eight countries will compete at Winter Range this week. Most of them in the Single Action Shooting Society's Cowboy Action Shooting National Championship, but the competition isn't just about accuracy; it's about bringing the old west to life, for both competitors and spectators.
"This is built from the ground up for two weeks and it allows all of us to leave our lives and come out and play cowboy and cowgirl," said Jan Schulman of Tucson, also known as "Sassy Dancer."
Winter Range is home to three dozen shooting events, where competitors fire pistols, rifles and shot guns in 12 different target scenarios.
"So you have to memorize the order you're going to shoot which guns, how many times you're going to shoot," said James Elliot, "Elliot James" of Prescott.
But before you shoot, you have to pick a wild west alias. My instructor, Heather Kresser, goes by "Half a Hand Henri."
"Half a Hand sounds better than 80 percent," she said.
With all nine fingers, Half a Hand put me through rapid-fire training, where I'll try to shoot as accurately and as quickly as I can.
I'm sure Wyatt Earp moved a whole lot faster, but at least with the hat I have a chance at winning the costume contest.
Yes, there are costume contests along with all the shooting contests. Winter Range is open to the whole family, with vendors selling period costume and equipment; cookouts and live music. Just remember to bring a pair of sunglasses since eye protection is required.
Feb. 23 - March 1
Ben Avery Shooting Facility
4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85086