Rifle shoots for Old West feeling
From the Rifle Sportsmans Club you can see the field where Kid Curry had a shootout with a posse from the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in June 1904. Weeks before the shootout, Curry, George Kilpatrick, and Charlie Howland, outlaws all, got jobs working for the railroad with plans for a train robbery. They learned the lay of the land and the schedules of trains carrying big loads through the Colorado River Valley. When the train theyd staked out failed to come through, they did the next best thing robbed the next train. They blew up the express car and robbed the safe. They only got $50, but that was enough to get the railroads lawmen on their tail. Two days later the lawmen caught up with Kid Curry and his crew, and both sides started shooting. In the end, they fired more than 200 lead shots three of them found their way into Currys guts. Knowing he was done for, Curry fought off the posse while Kilpatrick and Howland escaped. Preferring death to capture, Curry put a bullet in his own head with his Colt .45.Currys life of saloon brawls, train robberies, murders, and jail breaks is a vivid picture of the Old West and cowboy outlaws. And itll all come back to life (save for the suicide) in this weekends The Last Ride of Kid Curry cowboy action shooting event at the Rifle Sportsmans Club.Cowboy shooters from all around the country will ride into Rifle this weekend with images of Kid Currys last stand in their mind, cowboy hats on their heads, boots on their feet, and six-shooters on their hip.As many as 100 people will compete in different shooting scenarios modeled after Currys final train robbery. Youll see we dont sit and drill holes in paper targets, said Thomas Thompson (aka William Dixon) a member of the Rifle Creek Rangers, Rifles branch of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS). Thats incredibly boring. Especially for this group of shooters. On Tuesday Thompson, Tim Kinyon (aka Charles Bolton), Ken Youland (aka Miles Coffee), and Larry Dombrowski (aka Griz) stood in full cowboy costume (complete with a handlebar moustaches) in front of a shooting range designed to look like a storefront. One of the group stood crouched, hands on his hat, until the sound of whistle sent the cowboy scrambling to load his shotgun and send two metal targets to the dirt. Then hed run to his rifle and shoot six shots at two hanging targets before emptying two six-guns into four more bandits.With each man dressed in spurs, holsters, and worn-out hats from the late 1800s it really was a scene from the Wild West, which is what cowboy action shooting is really all about.I know a lot of people that come out here in costumes and learn the history, and theyve never fired a shot, said Thompson. All the shooters take an alias some fictional, some historical but all make you think of cowboys. For the people who choose a historical name, they research the people whose names they took. Thompson took Billy Dixons name. Dixon, Thompson said, was a rough-and-tumble cowboy who famously shot an Indian off his horse at 1,530 meters.Thompson even went so far as to talk to Billy Dixons daughter over the phone. I dont know where this Billy came from, she told him. Nobody called him Billy … not even his mother.It was too late for Thompson though, he had already decided on Billy, not Will or Willy, as he was actually called. And Kinyon is even more impressive with Charles Boltons history. Youd know him better as Black Bart, he said. Bolton was an infamous stagecoach robber, polite in every word, who never robbed an individual, but who stole enough money from Wells Fargos coaches that even today the companys Web site includes Boltons biography. In addition to his manners and kind word, Bolton left poetry at each of the coaches he robbed. Kinyon can recite one poem by memory:Here I lay me down to sleep,To wait the coming morrow;Perhaps success, perhaps defeatAnd everlasting sorrow,Ive labored long and hard for breadFor honor and for riches,But on my corns too long youve tredYou fine-haired sons of bitches.Let come what may Ill try it on,My condition cant be worse And if theres money in that boxTis money in my purse.The shooters admitted that dressing up as cowboys, shooting black powder guns, and eating off a chuck wagon, is, in large part, a childhood fantasy. Thompson and Kinyon both shot with a man they knew as Handsome Stranger at a competition in California. (Its rare that shooters know one another by anything other than their aliases.) After two years of shooting with Handsome Stranger, Thompson stopped by the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, Calif. Soon, Handsome Stranger showed up. It turned out that Handsome Stranger was Dustin Roy Rogers Jr. III, Roy Rogers grandson. And when Roy Rogers III introduced Thompson to the real Roy Rogers: I was 9 years old, I tell you. I had tears rolling down my checks.There arent many tears at the competitions, which are as serious as competitors want to make them. While Kinyon is a Colorado and Utah state champion, Thompson almost couldnt care less about the competition.It dont matter to me whether I win or not; Im out here to have fun, he said. The Last Ride of Kid Curry lasts all weekend, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday. The event is free to watch, but proceeds from vendors will go to support the Rifle 4-H Club, and entry fees from a long-range rifle contest will go to Happy Trails Childrens Foundation.
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