End of Trail 2022 February 28 – March6 By Lady Lou, (aka, Debbie Aurelius-Muir)
Three members of the Peacemakers SASS Club made it to the 41st SASS World Championship of Cowboy Action & Wild Bunch Shooting. The Arizona Territorial Company of Rough Riders were our hosts at the SASS End of Trail Competition. The festivities were held on the grounds of the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona. As usual, we met lots of friendly folks.
This year’s EOT (End of Trail) theme was based on the 1962 movie “How the West Was Won”. When Dangerous Dan and I rolled in on Tuesday afternoon, we really felt as if we were back in the wild west of the 1880’s. The contest was held in the middle of the desert and we found ourselves surrounded by mountains and cacti. We enjoyed a fun walk past all of the stages that were getting set up as well as the many vendors who had brought their wares for the contestants’ and guests’ perusal.
Wednesday was the first day of the contest for us. We had signed up for some of the fun side matches. To add to the excitement of the competition, Arizona delivered some extreme weather for us. There was a combination of high winds and high temperatures. The sun beat down as it reached the low 90’s while the wind constantly blew off our hats and shook the targets. John entered me in the Annie Oakley Shoot. It included 10 rounds on three targets at 65 – 110 yards. Even though the wind made it especially challenging to hit the targets, miraculously, I was still able to hit two at 110 yards!
Dangerous Dan was a much better shot. All side matches required 10 rounds to be shot. He entered three matches: Pistol Caliber Rifle, Single Shot Rifle, and Buffalo (Black Powder) Single Shot Rifle. Pistol Caliber Rifle entailed alternating on two targets at 60 – 100 yards, Single Shot Rifle, alternating on two targets at 280 – 300 yards, and Buffalo Single Shot set targets at 300 yards. Dan hit six out of ten, two out of ten, and three out of ten respectively! Go Dan!
Next, we completed a warm up match. Each shooter was assigned a posse which was given a scenario using 4 of the 12 locations for the actual shoot. The order of the targets and the scenarios were similar but not the same as the contestants would encounter the next day. It was just a chance to try out your equipment (which, by the way, worked perfectly) and get a feel for the range.
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday saw the wind start to subside and the temperatures start to descend. John and I completed our 12 stages with a few hiccups. On Thursday, our first day of the shooting competition, the shotgun broke on the very first stage! As per the usual kindness and generosity of SASS folk, one of our posse members lent us his shotgun so that we could finish the stages! As soon as our posse finished our shooting for the day, we took our shotgun to the gunsmith “Jim Bowie” who had set up a trailer booth on site. He was a magician. He took all of 12 seconds to assess the problem and fixed it on the spot. Payment? He said, “Put what you think the work is worth in my jar.” Turns out the shotgun wasn’t closing all the way, leaving too great of a gap between the firing pin and the shotshell’s primer.
Friday, towards the end of the second day of shooting, the pistol ejector rod ejected itself right off of John’s pistol just as he finished his stage. Once again, we took our gun to Jim Bowie after our shooting had concluded that day, and once again Jim worked his magic.
Saturday, the third and final day of the competition, all of our guns and equipment worked. Yee-haw! Long Fingers placed 120 out of 681 shooters. Great job! Deb and John were happy to make it to the end of the competition with all of our equipment working and without getting a penalty.
Saturday evening, I entered the Costume Contest. I was delighted to receive 2nd place in the “Best Dressed Lady” category! I wore an 1880s traveling outfit that I sewed from an historical pattern. The ensemble was comprised of a skirt, cape, hat, purse, muff, vest, blouse, and the appropriate undergarments. It was a lot of layers of clothing. Due to the windy and cold conditions of the evening, and the fact that the events were in a tent, I was glad to be dressed so warmly!
The competition concluded with a banquet catered by Broken Drift Productions. They served a house salad, chicken, steak, green beans, mashed potatoes, rolls, butter, and assorted desserts. The evening entertainment featured comedian and emcee Mark Brooks and country singer/songwriter Pat James and his band. Both were excellent! We laughed, we danced, we ate. What a fun experience. I encourage everybody to drive down to Phoenix, Arizona to experience the SASS World Championship of Cowboy action & Wild Bunch Shooting at least once in their lifetime. It was a fun adventure!