Journal of a Gypsy Cowboy

formerly Combined Fulltime RV

and Cowboy Action Shooting Journal

March 2008

March 31, 2008


Cleaned up the shop in preparation for the drive to New Mexico Thursday.

Thought for the day

Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can't eat it or hump it.

Piss on it and walk away

March 30. 2008


Took the "Wild Bunch" guns to Cowtown, 1911s, '97, and .45 Colt '73. Some conclusions:

The rules (Wild Bunch Rules at EOT) say: "No extended base pads on magazines". Taking this at "most strict interpretation," I used stock Colt magazines. A speed load will be required on each stage. I had a blood blister on the palm of my hand almost immediately. This raises the question, "Is this an extended basepad?"Wilson Low Profile basepad

This would prevent the blood blisters.

I took 2 1911s, a Wilson Master Grade of 1984 vintage, and an early production Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special (ask to see the serial #). I started with the Wilson, figuring the TR Special wasn't really tuned for lighter loads (the rules call for only 150 power factor. The TR Special is normally loaded with +P loads of about 200 power factor. Thus it has a 18.5 lb. recoil spring. 15-16 should be enough for a 200 gr. bullet at 750 or a 230 gr, at 652. I was shooting old 230 gr. loads of about 175 power factor). But the Wilson wasn't locking the slide back with any of the magazines. I figured they were old and needed new springs. Then I shot the TR Special, and it locked the slide back 100% of the time. Hmm. The Wilson has one of the Wilson "Unbreakable" slide stops. I'll have to fiddle with this problem later. Locking the slide back is important. "Changing magazines on the move is allowed as long as the slide remains locked open and the trigger finger remains out of the trigger guard until at least one foot reaches the shooting position. (trigger finger MSV, slide closed SDQ)" (from the rules).

On the other hand, the TR Special is a pretty awesome 1911. I can't think of any reason not to use it, well maybe one. I'll have to, according to Coyote Calhoun, put black Magic Marker on the night sights--as if I could see them in the daylight.

The '97 wouldn't work at all at first. I found a loose screw in the bolt, keeping it from opening all the way. Then it worked fine. Starting with a stoked '97 is a blast. It'll hold 5 rounds in the magazine, so it'll be stoked for the number of rounds in the stage or 5, whichever is smaller. This means some reloads will be required. This means either a shotgun belt or a slide. The belt I have interferes with getting the .45 magazines.

The available rigs, such as Mernickle's. below, don't include shotgun loops. (The Mernickle rig, inexplicably, has 10 belt loops for .45 ACP rounds). I presume they're expecting us to wear shotgun belts. Jack Houston, who made my rig, suggested I put the magazines on the shotgun belt. I'd rather not for several reasons, not the least of which is 40 years of wearing magazines at belt level.

Mernickle "Evil Roy" "Wild Bunch" Rig

Mernicke's "Evil Roy Wild Bunch" Rig looks good. I don't see the reason for 10 belt loops for .45 ACP rounds, though.



March 29. 2008


Finished the range work. The GWII soldiered through the work without a problem. I note that Pietta, unlike Uberti, doesn't have Guido the trained ape tightening all of the screws to 200 lb./ft. of torque with an Italian copy of Red Loctite on every screw. Guido is the best salesman of aftermarket Uberti screws on the planet. I'm sure VTI Gunparts sends him a Christmas card. The frame screws had worked themselves a little loose after all the testing. Removing the grip frame screws didn't require the services of an expert gunsmith, just the right sized screwdriver. Reinstalling the grips after all the testing went without problems. This is a big deal because I can lose any screw smaller than 1" diameter in a flash.

After the testing was done I put the GWII in one holster and one of the Evil Roys in the other and proceeded to burn a few hundred rounds of ammo on speed drills. The GWII occasionally had BP disease and wouldn't cock easily. I suspect it's pretty tight and wasn't tuned for the smoky stuff, and it's dirty inside. It hasn't been taken apart and cleaned since I got it. I'll be shooting it in practice for the duration of the test. It felt pretty much like the ER (which suffers from BP disease if not kept clean, too). The front sight is very visible. It cocks easily and has a light, crisp trigger. The grips fit my hands well. They're oiled walnut (or something like it) instead of lacquered like the ER. I like them.

Some Conclusions:


Highest velocity, as expected, was a Triple 7 load, a full case with a 105 gr. bullet averaged 850 ft./sec.

But if the knockdowns have been kicking other shooter's collective asses, the Triple 7/125 gr. bullet load had the highest power factor.

The accuracy war was won by the S & S Truncated Cone 125/APP3f load.

Lest you think this means the Truncated Cone is superior to the Round Nose Flat Point, the Coal Creek Bullets 125 RNFP/APP3f load was .02 wider.

The most accurate load in the test, Ten-X's 105 gr. TC load, was disqualified for being smokeless. It did demonstrate that the gun has a high degree of intrinsic accuracy.

In the mildest/lowest recoil contest, amazingly the 105 gr, TC/11 gr. 777 2f load recorded the lowest power factor, 58, and gave good accuracy, 1.27" group. (BP shooters don't have to make a power factor, just smoke. Normally if you make enough smoke, you'll exceed the power factor comfortably.)

However, not displayed in this chart did 2 additional chrono runs of this load, one holding the gun down before each shot, one holding the gun up before each shot. The power factor went up to 80 with the gun held up and 83 with the gun held down. "Is a puzzlement."

I was surprised at the big groups from the Pinnacle loads. I've had them for a while. But you'd expect the Cowboy loads, with SD of only 15, to be the most accurate. Not today.

This is why we test.

Factory Fodder

Ten-X's BP substitute is the new Hodgdon Triple 7 Cowboy, or whatever it'll be called in its final iteration. This isn't the final iteration that will be available to us, but obviously it's very good. Richard Pumerantz says it eliminates the excess dusting problem that APP presents when you're using high-speed inline equipment. It gives a pleasant PF of 87 and decent accuracy. Great Basin's accuracy with APP is about the same, but the PF is 66.

Overall winner of lowest power factor is the Ten-X 105 gr. load with 41. I don't know if they'll be upping it now that SASS has a manly, arm breaking and pain inducing power factor of 60. Richard is on top of things re SASS ammo, so I expect it will.

Ten-X is the biggest manufacturer of ammo for SASS. Great Basin, a much smaller concern, is second. Obviously you couldn't go wrong with either of their selections. I have enough Ten-X to shoot a few matches with it to continue that part of the test.

Bullet Bullet Powder Wt. Hi Low E.S. M.V. St. Pwr Grp
wt. gr. Vel. Vel. Dev Fact. Size
Colorado Cast Bullets (TC) 105 777-2f 14 889 781 108 850 41 89 1.71
Bullets by Gil (TC) 125 APP-3F 11 852 799 53 799 20 100 1.72
Colorado Cast Bullets (TC) 105 APP-3F 14 771 648 123 721 56 76 2.19

Coal Creek Bullets (RNFP)

125 777-2f 14 852 776 76 821 25 103 1.86
Coal Creek Bullets (RNFP) 125 Gold-3f 14 678 551 127 622 46 78 2.30
Coal Creek Bullets (RNFP) 125 APP-3f 14 754 640 114 704 33 88 1.16
Colorado Cast Bullets (TC) 105 APP-3f 11 820 700 120 779 46 82 1.53
S & S Bullets (TC) 125 Gold-3f 14 809 584 225 673 84 84 2.22
Colorado Cast Bullets (TC) 105 777-2f 11 578 535 43 557 16 58 1.27
S &S Bullets (TC) 125 APP-3f 14 806 535 271 672 96 84 1.14
Ten-X 105 (TC) smokeless 105 --- -- 420 315 105 393 40 41 1.14
Ten-X 130 (TC) smokeless 130 --- -- 563 517 46 542 19 70 0.99
Ten-X 130 BPS (TC) 130 --- -- 745 627 118 671 43 87 2.22
Great Basin (RNFP) smokeless 125 --- -- 691 631 60 670 20 84 1.56
Great Basin BPS (RNFP) 125 APP-3f -- 588 477 111 525 38 66 2.15
Desperado Cowboy Bullets (RNFP) 125 Cowboy 18 710 673 37 692 15 87 2.39
Bullets by Gil (TC) 125 Pinnacle 3f 14 860 651 209 746 77 93 3.29
Black Hills (SWC) 158 --- -- 832 768 64 798 29 126 2.22


Weights of powder in handloads approximate. I adjusted the powder measure to fill the case, leaving room for the bullet. This is about 14 gr. by weight of the substitutes. The 11 gr. loads were chosen as the lightest that will smoke equal to the SASS standard load (with a safe margin).

Groups are at 15 yds. My previous tests were at 25 yds. Several people told me this was too far away for SASS targets. These people obviously never shot at some of the Texas clubs where men are men, and targets are distant and itty bitty. But 15 yards is about as far as I can place the target at Cowtown.

You will note that the rounds loaded with APP's premium powder, Jim Shockey's Gold, gave less velocity, higher E.S. and S.D. and bigger groups than the same load with APP 3f.

March 28, 2008


The nice folks at EMF, namely Buffalo Sam Peed, provided me with a Great Western II Custom for testing.

Great Western II Custom

Blue and Bone Charcoal Case Hardened (not case coloring), 4.75" barrel, .357 Magnum. Checkered, thinned walnut grips, wide front sight, wide rear sight notch, 2 lb. smooth, crisp trigger, this model is competition ready out of the box. When I asked Buffalo Sam Peed what gunsmith they used, he said, "we just installed a spring kit." Pietta makes the gun. This tells me that Pietta is making high quality, internally smooth and well-fitted guns. When I took the grips off to put the gun into a Ransom Rest, I almost lost the hand spring--Coil hand spring, like a Ruger. Unlike the Cimarron Evil Roy, there is no leather pad behind the lower end of the mainspring.

Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge, average of 10

Great Western II—1 lb., 14.6 oz.
Untuned Cimarron Model P, 1st gen—3 lb., 13.4 oz.
Colt SAA, Peacemaker Specialists—2 lb., 2.7 oz. (requested specs 2 lb., 8 oz.)
Cimarron Evil Roy—1 lb., 8.6 oz. after removal of leather spacer at 2,000 rounds+ (requested specs 2 lb., 8 oz.) (Trigger pull had gotten below one pound with use and wasn't reliably popping Winchester primers.)

Ransom Rest

I went through Cowtown looking for a solid place to mount the Ransom Rest using $80 worth of new big C-Clamps. I found it and mounted the rest. The target stand consists of scrap 3/4" Baltic Birch ply. The base is about 3' x 2' with $25 worth of big angle braces mounted solidly. The vertical piece slides in. It has a frame made of 2" x 1/4" Poplar strips nailed (air nailer) to the board. They're offset to form slots to slide the IPSC target into. The target stand doesn't move, especially in the current weather, with little wind. The Ransom Rest doesn't move. So we get accurate results.

I also set up the Oehler 35P Chronograph to record velocities. Frank Brownell gave me the Chrono and the Ransom Rest for the Ruger New Vaquero tests a few years back.

Results of all of the tests will be printed when I finish. I got through about half of the ammo to be tested today. Some interesting revelations. Which is hotter, American Pioneer Powder, Jim Shockey's Gold, or Triple 7? What's a really accurate BPS load for a .38? What's a low recoil load? Could they be the same load? Which of the commercial BPS loads is best? Is a truncated cone bullet more accurate than a round nose flat point? Is a 105 or a 125 more accurate?

It's late Friday night. All will be revealed. Stay tuned.

March 27, 2008


George S Patton, Jr. holds one of my handkerchiefs for ransom

George S. Patton, Jr. holding one of my handkerchiefs for ransom

Spent much of the day organizing the upcoming gun and ammunition tests. More on that later.

March 26, 2008


Installed a 4 liter automatic fire extinguisher in the engine compartment:

Installing the bracket

The bracket was mounted on the top bulkhead on the curb side of the engine. The turbocharger is on the other side (duh). There was plenty of room, so it seemed. Of course you see that big red wire that's LIVE right beside it. That was fun.

Putting the bracket in was easy. Just drill four holes and install the carriage bolts. Oh, wait, they provided 2" carriage bolts. They're too short. Trip 1 to Home Depot. Purchase 2.5", 3", and 3.5" carriage bolts. Return. install correct bolts. Realize that someone at the fire extinguisher factory is a sadistic monster. Carriage bolts, of course, won't tighten down without a square hole to lock the head in place. Go back to Home Depot and get 1/4" x 20 hex head bolts and slot head screws in correct lengths just in case.

That meant one had had to be holding the head in place while the other was tightening the nut.

Drop the 7/16" combination wrench.

Climb under the bus to retrieve it, stuck on a shelf where it was only visible while your head was beside the exhaust pipe, a feat not accomplishable by someone too big, too fat, or not in shape.

Yes, the bus is parked on gravel.

Putting the bottle into the brakets

After unsuccessfully spending an hour looking for a 7/16" 3/8" drive socket that fell into the engine compartment, I finally got the bottle into the brackets. The straps have to be tightened with a 1/4" socket wrench, which I couldn't find until I finished, or a slot head screwdriver,

Installed fire extinguisher

After several hours and a back that looks like I've been horsewhipped, the bottle is installed, and I didn't set the bus on fire installing it.

Closeup of the sprinkler head

Close up of the sprinkler head. Unit is pressurized with nitrogen, hence the Shrader valve

People actually ask, with some disbelief, why I would install an automatic fire extinguisher in the bus, another in the trailer, and 3 fire extinguishers in the bus and one in the ML. These people obviously have never been in a fire and/or have no imagination.

March 25, 2008


Made shotgun rounds most of the day.

March 24, 2008


Drove back to Pioneer RV Park.

March 23, 2008


Gathering of the Posses, Day 2

Three more stages. They have 5 bays and have 2 consecutive stages in the same bay, often using different targets and shooting positions. Again, if I'd shot this well at WR...

I tried my new Earthwalker boots yesterday but couldn't take them today. I'm hoping it's just break in. I wore the cavalry boots with less pain. My big toes aren't normal anymore (effects of my misspent youth), and a lot of boots hurt them, especially the left one. Wore the Confederate Cavalry Captain's uniform. Not bad to shoot in, but definitely not for hot weather.

Hell's Comin' also made up for WR with a runaway overall win. Much further down the standings I won Frontiersman. There might be hope for me yet.

March 22, 2008


Gathering of the Posses, Day 1,

Casa Grande

Gathering of the Posses

Another good sized Arizona event that isn't a State Championship or Regional, but had over 120 shooters even on Easter weekend. We missed the side match day because of LOW, but the main match was quite good. I was put on a posse with some people I knew, most I didn't. As usual, of course, it was a fun, well run posse (Dirty Bob was posse marshal). Arizona Gambler and his wife Arizona Gambler's Lady were on it and were parked next to us at the RV Park. The range is more than a mile from the park, and The Redhead took the ML to a casino. I rode down on a flatbed with haybales the club had running as a taxi and rode back with Arizona Gambler and his wife. We shot 7 stages. One had two charcoal briquette poppers as bonuses. Other than that the stages were good (in case you came in late I don't like fliers as part of a CAS match. I've read a lot about old west gunfights, and best I can tell no one ever flew away from one.) I shot okay. If I'd shot this well at WR, I'd have a buckle.

Dinner was steaks at the RV Park. The Redhead and AZ Gambler discussed poker until it got dark.

March 21, 2008


After so many technical courses I decided to take "Surviving Quartzsite" for the first class. It was fun and convinced me we probably don't want to spend a lot of time there when it's crowded.

Then I took "Driving Vehicles with Air Brakes." Jerry Ray of the RV Driving School was the instructor. It mostly covered how air brakes worked and how to test them. Testing them is part of the Texas Class B Exempt Driving Test. Jerry did mention that Livingston was not the place to take the test, that the locals are pretty much out to get us "old people." He didn't use those words, but that's my interpretation. Apparently El Paso is the place to take the test.

I was about to put the test procedure here, but at the bottom of the handout is a copyright notice. It's not simple.

Then we had a short session in the auditorium in which one lady won all of the important raffle prizes. Then we tried to leave.

First a car was blocking the trailer. I didn't get the car moved until after 2. Then we tried to leave, a tight turn being required--with a curb, with a tree with pointy, sharp, strong branches. It became obvious we couldn't make it, so I tried to back up. We had to stop for the tree. I went to get a ladder out of the trailer, and the key broke off in the lock on the right side ramp lock. Several people offered assistance. Nothing worked until I tried just removing the handle and lock altogether. It was way too easy. Then a gentleman showed up with long pruning shears and pruned the tree carefully. Then Les Crenshaw offered to back it out, having 20+ years of experience. It took over half an hour to get it back down the row to another intersection. It was too narrow, too. Then he backed it up to a spot where there was no barricade between parking rows and snaked it out. It was nearly 4. We didn't get to the range for this weekend's Gathering of the Posses until after 5. They have 130 RV sites at the range (Casa Grande Trap Club), all 20 amps (!) We don't have but one 30M to 15F adapter. Borrowed another for the trailer. Yes, almost anything in the bus maxes out 20 amps. At least, because of LOW, we knew to switch the inverter to 20 amps shore power. Otherwise it would be shunting 10 amps or so to charge the house batteries and would blow circuit breakers. I believe the margaritas were after 7. Long !#$%! day.

Odds are we won't take another Life on Wheels that doesn't involve proper RV Park parking. But we're glad we took this one. We'll be looking for the RVSEF at other rallies to get the corners of the bus weighed separately, and we'll consider getting Jerry Ray to give The Redhead private driving lessons.

March 20, 2008


Triple Towing Rig

This triple-towing rig at Pioneer RV Park Monday


The morning classes were "Inverters & Chargers" and "Is Solar Power Right for you?" by Greg Holder. Inverters and chargers were well covered. The answer to the solar power question is no for us. A $4,000 system would keep the batteries charged and handle your small appliances, but the A/C and refrigerator take too much power. The refrigerator will work on propane, of course, though not as well as on AC. But the A/C needs either the generator or shore power. Our longest boondocking session is at EOT, and A/C has been required in the past. I expect it will be this year unless global cooling catches up with New Mexico.

The first afternoon class we both took was Motorhome Driving by Jerry Ray. Excellent class. Excellent instructor.

From my notes: The best way to keep the coach centered in the lane is to draw an imaginary line from your right foot to the center of the dark streak in the middle of the lane. The further down the road you look, the smoother you'll drive (some things are applicable to all kinds of driving.) Most motorhomes are 8-1/2' wide. City lanes are 10' wide, leaving only 9" on a side. Interstates are 12' wide. Some toll roads are 14' wide.

When judging height, if the instruction is above eye level at 50 yards, it will clear the coach. If you have to look down, it won't.

When starting on hills, put left foot on brake. Do NOT use the throttle to hold on the incline. It will burn out the transmission quickly. As you take off, lift your left foot as you lower your right foot.

Backing up: practice straight backing. Pick a distant fixed object. Keep the distance between the object and the edge of the coach the same. Back at a slow walking speed. Hand positions should be same as going forward, whatever is comfortable to you.

Hills and grades: If you can still accelerate, you're in the right gear. Downhill: if you need to brake more than one second every five seconds, you're in the wrong gear.

Don't use engine braking or cruise control in slippery conditions.

Going around corners: In a diesel pusher you're in front of the turning wheels. Don't start the turn until your shoulders are (at least) past the thing you're trying to avoid, further back if you're towing a trailer. Watch the right convex mirror while cornering to see how the tail is clearing. Remember that the tail swings out on the outside, too, 1 foot for every 3 feet of overhang.

There was more, of course. As with the Tire Safety lecture tire pressure monitors were recommended.

This was another class that made the conference worthwhile.

The next class was Generators by Al Cohoe. It was very comprehensive due to the variety of generators out there. Preventive maintenance was covered, along with capacities, operation, common problems, and the effects of altitude and temperature. Diagrams of common generators were shown with filter and drain plug location. Gasoline, diesel, and propane generators were compared. Propane is problematical in its fuel consumption. Diesel, of course, uses the same fuel tank as the engine on a diesel pusher.

Generators lose efficiency with temperature and heat, so operating at Founder's Ranch near Albuquerque at 7,000 ft. in the summer would be less efficient than in cold, sea level conditions.

Al recommended you get oil and air filters for your unit. Then changing oil will be easy, even if you're doing it yourself or at a non-factory shop.

Good class. Comprehensive.

March 19, 2008



The "conference" is a series of classes, often at conflicting times, 1.5 hours each, 4 a day for 2 days and 2 more classes on Friday.

I started with "all About Batteries", with Greg Holder. This was a tough hour and a half to slog through, but informative. We learned the difference between Flooded lead Calcium or Lead Antimony, Gel Cell, and Absorbed Glass Mat, AGM. Interpretations of the acronyms describing batteries, such as CCA, CA, MCA. etc. The conclusions were "Best "Bang for the Buck" is the Trojan T-105 Golf Cart Batteries if you have the head room."

No second choice was given if you don't. We don't. The Interstates barely fit vertically.

Gel Cells aren't recommended for RV usage.

"AGMs cost about two and a half times more but the price can be worth it for the advantages it has."

Hmm. According to Greg's stats, Flooded batteries have 1200 cycles @ 50% DOC. AGMs have 1100. Flooded batteries have 800 cycles @ 80% DOC. AGMs have 550.

I left confused on this. Apparently there is one brand of AGM batteries worth buying. Sorry. I don't know what it is.

I asked about ThermOil, a mineral oil to be poured in the cells of Flooded batteries to minimizing the splatter of acid from corroding the area around the batteries. Greg said it was a good idea but to just buy cheap mineral oil and pour a little in each battery.

Mac McCoy did the fire safety class. This was worth the price of admission. Mac the Fire Guy

Mac the Fire Guy

The class took 2 hours 16 minutes but was well worth it. Several really good ideas for RV fire prevention came through. At the end Mac does a demonstration of fire extinguishers. He sells some very good fire extinguishers, so you might say this is all a sales pitch for the fire extinguishers. True, but they're very good fire extinguishers, and the ones that come on motor homes are poor and inadequate in number. I bought a $575 automatic 4 liter foam extinguisher to mount over the engine and several manual extinguishers for the coach, the trailer, and the ML. You can read about the extinguishers on his web site.

This is a class that both The Redhead and I took. She took a class on RV Awnings by Russ Maxwell, one on Boondocking by Greg Holder, and Interior and Exterior care by Steve Smith. She recommended the awnings and exterior and interior care classes but said Greg's definition of boondocking wasn't ours.

In the afternoon I took RV Weight Safety and RV Tire Safety by Rick Lang. Rick and his wife Joyce work for RV Safety Education Foundation

The point of both classes was to get us all to get all 4 corners of our RVs weighed by them after the class (extra cost). Unfortunately, we have plans that require us to leave as soon as the class is over. Much of the tire safety class was in the weight safety class.

Worthwhile classes, especially if you don't know what all those letters and numbers on your tires are or how to care for them.

That evening was an open house with the instructors and others having open house at their RVs.

March 18, 2008


This came in the email today, from an old friend. Someone sends it every time one of our pets dies. It's always helpful.

There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.  It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors.  Just this side of the Rainbow bridge, there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather.  The old and frail animals are young again.  Those who are maimed are made whole again.  They play all day with each other.  There is only one thing missing.  They are not with their special person who loved them on Earth.  So, each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly LOOKS UP!  The nose twitches.  The ears are up.  The eyes are staring.  And this one suddenly runs from the group.

You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet, you take her (or him) in your arms and embrace.  Your face is kissed again and again and again, and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.

We're in Tucson for the "Life On Wheels" conference, classes about full time RVing. A report will follow, of course.

First impressions:

They parked us in a spot that might require backing about 50 yards to get out. Pima Community College doesn't have an RV parking lot. The one they have has curbs and trees everywhere. The LOW people were planning on 40 ft. per RV. Hmm.

When we went in to register, the first table was selling T-Shirts and caps. You had to get past that to register. They have a book store, too.

Beaudry RV bought a pretty good dinner, but dessert at Camping World cost $109. I can't get out of Camping World for less than $100, kind of like Sportsman's Warehouse.

Classes tomorrow from 0800 to 1630. Feel like I'm back in school.

March 17, 2008


Two errand runs today, to Earthwalker Boots to pick up my new boots, and to Johnny Meadows' place to get the Baikal shotgun back. Fortunately one's one exit north of the Cliff Castle Casino, and the other is one exit south. So I dropped The Redhead off at the casino and went to Earthwalkers. The instructions took me down an increasingly twisty one lane private road (gate with a code to get in), and just when I was wondering if I'd ever get there, I looked left and a beautiful white horse was running parallel to me, probably the most beautiful white horse I've ever seen, Pegasus in the flesh, muscles rippling, tail high. It quickly ran past me. Another beautiful horse was running behind it. I took this as a good omen.

Steffon Dalberg makes Earthwalker boots by hand one pair at a time in his garage in a horse ranch. I wondered how he has the time to do both. It's difficult, he tells me. He's always backed up with boot orders, mostly SASS people who just can't shoot in the boots they've been wearing. My "cavalry boots" were ready, and I tried them on without socks, per Steffon's instructions. They put pressure on my beat-up big toes (more casualties of my misspent youth and middle age). He put them in appropriate stretchers to cure this and told me to wear them every night if I want to shoot in them this weekend, break in. I can do that.

Then I went to Johnny Meadows' beautiful Arizona styled house. The Baikal needed a cocking lever welded up and recut and some other work, $45. It works as advertised now. We discussed getting me an SKB or Browning.

I picked up The Redhead at the casino (+$750--she's getting to the point of supporting me in a style I'd like to become accustomed), and we drove twisty, scenic I17 back to Pioneer RV Park.

March 16, 2008


A little catch up. Shot ACSA yesterday and Cowtown today. My 3rd shotgun failed Friday while dry-firing.

Shotgun 1, Stoeger, done by Coyote Cap in 2001 or so, wore out some little thingie and wasn't reliably cocking one hammer, failed before WR. Given to CC to take back to MN to fix.

Shotgun 2, Stoeger, done by Coyote Cap some years back (don't know, got it in a trade). Broke off front lug. Failed at WR during Plainsman match. Given to CC to take back to MN to fix.

Shotgun 3, Baikal Bounty Hunter 2-trigger hammerless, done by Coyote Cap in 2001 or so. Left firing pin won't retract reliably. Gave it to Johnny Meadows Saturday to fix. He's 90 miles away, and I'll be driving up to get it back Monday. I did ask if he had any reliable shotguns to sell. He said he sold all the SKBs before WR, with people fighting over them.

So I shot Shotgun 4, a Coyote Cap Special Edition 1887 Coach Gun I'd gotten for doing some work for Coyote Cap's website.

Coyote Cap Commemorative 1887 Coach Gun

This is one of the finest shotguns available for CAS, with only 200 made, the ultimate hammer double for our purposes. The only problem is it's a hammer double, and I've been using hammerless doubles for lo these many years. So I spent much of Friday afternoon practicing with dummy rounds. The trigger guard had moleskin in a strategic spot afterwards. The hammers are light and can be cocked with the heel of my weak hand or both at once with my strong hand. No sharp edges on the hammers. It has a BIG bead front sight. The chambers are chamfered and smooth, about 11.5 gauge so that BP shells will fall out. It opens with a tap of my thumb. This is a big deal to a left-hander. When I ordered it I was used to the lock open device, so I got one on this gun, but as SG #2, which I'd been practicing with, didn't have it, I have to get used to that all over again. Great for vertical staging, though. The photo above shows a negative angle on the recoil pad, but mine's at a neutral angle.

The ACSA match was very good. Shot with Cactus Cris's BP posse.

Sunday at Cowtown was on a posse of mostly part time BP shooters, getting ready for the Arizona BP Shootout. Excellent match, too.

The man from Earthwalker Boots called Saturday and said my boots are ready. I can pick them up Monday. It's on the way to Johnny Meadows' place.

March 15, 2008


Emerald kitten

Emerald, April 21, 1995-March 15, 2008

Emerald 2002

Emerald died this morning. She had been sick with renal failure for several months. The last two weeks were borrowed time. She had lost weight and "decompensated." The local vet gave her IVs, drugs, and a special diet. We knew it wouldn't give us forever, but it made her feel good for a while. Then she stopped eating the diet food, then regular food. We knew we didn't have long. She died this morning in The Redhead's arms.

She was a sweet, loving kitty, and we'll miss her.


Emerald, June 2006

Emerald 2004

Emerald June 2006


Enerald kitten

Emerald Christmas card

Emmie showing who's boss



Emmie kitten

March 14, 2008


The tires came in, run-flat versions to my surprise (same price as non-run-flat). Got them installed. The Redhead then took the car to the nearest casino and drew a royal flush on video poker. Yes, they pay money for that.

March 13, 2008


Worked in the garage making test loads for the upcoming gun tests, several bullets, 2 different powders.

March 12, 2008


Recovering from the bug. Worked on financial stuff put off for WR. Ran errands in the afternoon. Took a drive in the cacti.

CD Tom emailed some photos of the third day of WR:

CD Tom's posse photo

CD Tom's photo of Capt. Baylor knocking down a shotgun target

March 11, 2008


The Redhead and I went looking for bad haircuts and found them. Then I came down with an intestinal bug that took me out for the rest of the day.

March 10, 2008


Started doing all of the things that got put off in preparation for WR, such as cleaning up the shop, a task of gargantuan proportions. My acquisition of 9,000 bullets from San Juan plus ammunition from Ten-X for the upcoming gun tests (Great Western II Custom, Smoke Wagon, Evil Roy pistols) meant that the side cabinet is full. Additionally I didn't want all the weight there, putting a lot of the bullets in the basement of the coach. San Juan delivers bullets in big coffee cans with clear tape sealing them. I discovered really quickly with the first batch that these are not acceptable storage containers. This meant putting them into bullet boxes. I'm still looking for suitable boxes, such as the ones more commercial bullet companies use for 500 rounds of bullets. I put completed rounds into them on Evil Roy's suggestion. Putting them into 50 round cartridge boxes takes too long--except for match ammo.

Took the Dillon RF100 and CV500 to Dillon, specifically to Randy Shelly, Production/Purchasing manager, who I talked to at WR. I left with a new motor in the CV500 and a virtual rebuild of the RF100 with a new bowl among other things. If yours doesn't have a helicoil in it one of the screws will dance around get things out of adjustment. I was shown how to adjust the little blue thingie the primer falls through (and clean with a pipe cleaner or swab soaked in alcohol). Randy ran 100 Winchester small pistol primers through the machine, then loaded them back in their package, proving all 100 were right side up. Doing this with Federals was more difficult since they load sideways in their box. But he did, meaning the machine will now work with both. I got several tips on the 650 and the 900. As usual, I left feeling that it would be nice if all companies could stand behind their products like Dillon.

Then took the flat trailer tire (on the way to Quartzite in February) and the ML320 to the local Discount Tire along with Tire Rack prices on the ML's tires. After much negotiation got the Michelins for the ML for Tire Rack prices and an E rated tire for the trailer, to be picked up Thursday.

Blackey Cole came over, and we went to dinner.

March 9, 2008


Winter Range Awards Day

Hell's Comin'

Hell's Comin' wanted me to take his picture. "Since I didn't shoot good I wanted to look good, so I dressed up."

The awards presentation took a while due to the 10 places of 50 categories and personally thanking every worker individually. No argument with either, but my bad hip won't take sitting on a bad chair for 2-1/2 hours without alcoholic pain killers. I believe I was the only shooter not to get a belt buckle who didn't drop a loaded gun. Lots of name shooters in that list. A real shame.

As usual, nice awards, funny stuff in the program, such as out takes of the safety video with the three amigos. All in all a great event. WR has won Best Event twice. If it doesn't again, it'll be just because SASS doesn't want to 3 times, or because another event is really spectacular.

Yes, I'm exaggerating about the 50 categories. There are only 47.

March 8, 2008


Third Main Match Day and Banquet

Forgot the camera. Better day than the first, but not great. More stories of people DQed for dropped guns, at least 12 we hear.

The rifle reload bonus, 5 seconds, occurred. Shoot 10 at one location, shoot the reload at another. For 2 months I've been practicing reloads over the top, but I believe through the loading gate is the way to go while moving. You have time to do it. Anyway, that's what I did. I saw people doing both. Got the bonus in about the same time it would have taken to run and shoot.

We shot late in the afternoon, finishing at 1600. The Best Dressed Costume Contest was 1700 to 1900. I tried to put on the General Lee costume but (a) it was too damn hot and (b) the beard was driving me crazy. There has to be a better way to hold it on than spirit gum. I am now looking for a high quality beard with something like double sided tape to hold it on, a la some toupees I've seen.

The Redhead was ready and waiting in one of the day dresses she got from Wild West Mercantile--looked great.

Went as Col. Baylor, with mustache, no beard. The costume committee asked about the blue trousers (used by both sides) and if the sword said "CSA". As it's a fully engraved CSA senior officer's sword it says "CSA" in big letters. I explained the black hat before they asked (It's a Texas thing). Won best dressed military.

Dinner was okay, prime rib, but really hard to eat with no knife. They ran out of knives by the time we got there. Thought of using the sword, but... no.

They gave out side match awards, a good idea considering how long it takes to give out 10 places for 50 categories and individually thank every worker.

March 7, 2008


Second Main Match Day

Winter Range Main Tent

Big tent

Sutlers Row

One of the sutlers' rows. Lots of good ones here.

CD Tom

C D Tom shoots Black Powder, big, full-of-powder black powder cartridges.

Ornry Underwood

Ornry Underwood

Capt Baylor in Confederate cavalry uniform

WR was the debut of Capt. Baylor's new Confederate cavalry uniform. The uniform is a private's uniform with captain's insignia, as would occur (and did) in the field. I found an 8th Texas Cavalry captain with such a uniform.

Confederate hat

This wasn't the hat planned for this outfit, but I'd been unable to find a builder for the one I wanted, and I had this one, literally distressed by running a truck over it (unintentionally).

Terry's Texas Rangers scouts

These are 5 scouts from the 8th Texas, called Terry's Texas Rangers. Note 5 men, 5 different hats, 5 different uniforms. Hence I'm not sure "Confederate" and "Uniform" should be used in the same sentence. Might be an oxymoron like "Military Intelligence."

Scout's hat

I had planned on getting this one copied, but after discussing this with several experts in the field, I'm not so sure. One noted judge told me, "I never saw a hat like this before. This is a modern cowboy hat," Agreed. 3-1/2" brim, dipped and curled, telescope crown, possibly leather hatband, possibly gros grain. That's a Texas star on it. If you were a costume contest judge, would you think this hat is authentic?

Tough stages. Eighter from Decatur dropped a loaded gun and was disqualified. Rumors are going around of stage 12 eating several contestants.

Long range shotgun bonus target, 17 paces. Virtually all of us got it with one shot, though. I used my regular mild BP load, and it dropped convincingly.

Yesterday we had rifle knockdowns. I went for overkill with 158 gr. loads. They worked.

The costume contest judges took my picture in the Confederate uniform. The only question was, "What's the purple armband for?"

"It's the color of the day."

"Color of the day?"

"Yankees have been infiltrating our lines dressed in grey. We're identifying ourselves with the color of the day."

The purple armband was attached with a "DG" poker chip. Most of you will know what those are for.

The Earthwalker halfsoles and heels of high tech cushiony stuff are worth the $75 he charges for them. Very good. The ground is rough at WR, and these were a lot more comfortable than standard.

March 6, 2008


Posse 8

Posse 8 as photographed by Major Photography. Curl E Kay wanted us to bring our long guns. The dog shoots in the "lawdog" category


Got on a good posse. Rattler John, Curl E Kay, Nueces Outlaw, Goadneck Clem, CD Tom among others. Had shotgun problems on first three stages, putting me out of the hunt, no doubt. VERY cold and windy through first 2-3 stages.

Lots of running. If we shoot 4 shotguns, they're usually from 3 different places. Athletic..

March 5, 2008


Shot a 4 stage warn up match in the morning and a 4 stage Plainsman-Match-from-Hell in the afternoon. Broke the backup Stoeger and couldn't hit rifle targets (50 yds) until I realized the rear sight was loose and guessed at center, hitting them all on the next stage.

But the Plainsman match had 10 rifle targets, at long range, on each stage. It was like watching paint dry. Each stage took over a minute per man in my posse. By the fourth stage I was exhausted.

Picked up the "spare" Codymatic from Legendary Guns. Deluxe Border Rifle, very nice. Needs one of the baby moon hubcap front sights Manatee sells.

Earthwalker didn't have my boots ready, but offered to resole my cavalry boots.

Got my "shooting" Confederate uniform from Coon Creek. Yes, I do have 3 Confederate uniforms. It's not a racist thing. The Confederate soldiers and Vietnam Vets have a lot in common. We both came home to lives in ruin, disrespect, and hatred. Anyway, Yankee uniforms are boring. I promise, no more, though.

March 4, 2008


Winter Range, Vendor Set Up Day

Went to WR, got my shooter's packet, talked to vendors. Picked up an order from Coon Creek. Coat needs a little altering. Left it with them for tomorrow. Went to Redwing Trading and bought a screw knife. The use of it is to remove a short cartridge in a '66 or '73. It'll slip down behind the cartridge. Close the lever as you push the knife forward, getting the offending cartridge back into the magazine as the lever closes and the knife retracts vertically. Then use the tool to push in the loading gate, ejecting the bad cartridge. If you're about to get 7-10 misses because a bullet backed into the case, and you practice this maneuver, you might turn 50 seconds info 10 or so. I practiced it but didn't time myself. I use new Starline brass at big matches to avoid having to use it on the clock where it'd be a disaster.

The only left-handed scabbard was black, but getting one to match would be difficult in any case. Redwing installed it. Photos will follow sometime.

I'd put off buying one because I thought it was too expensive for its task, but I haven't found an alternative, and I see them on the holsters of all of the top shooters. Saw Penny Wrangler use one quite expertly in practice session Monday. High quality Damascus steel, guaranteed for life, each one of a kind. I got one with Mastodon ivory scales (extra cost).

Redwing was very nice to deal with, went above and beyond in making the sale.

Looked at the stages. They look GREAT. These guys outdid themselves again. Photos to follow later in the week.

Had neighbors Tolerable Ted and Miss Chif Laura over for Margaritas. Met them last night through their little dog, Bear, a yellow Lab aptly named..

March 3, 2008


Went to Cowtown and shot 10 stages with match guns. Very few bobbles, mostly low 30s, high 20s. I believe 38 was the worst, caused by 2 shotgun shells that wouldn't extract. I'll take today's shooting as a predictor of Winter Range, not yesterday.

March 2, 2008


I just thought I shot badly yesterday. Rifle round went click first stage, jacked it out, did an over-the-top reload. Stage 2 a cap didn't go bang. Stage 3 a shotgun shell wouldn't chamber. The others I just either screwed up or shot v-e-r-y--s-l-o-w-l-y. Puffbuster shot very well both days (1 train wreck yesterday). Omaha John shot very well today.

Cowboy Action shooters are beginning to fill up Pioneer RV Park, as expected.

March 1, 2008


Fire and Ice

The Cowtown Cowboy Shooters Association puts on Fire and Ice the weekend before Winter Range every year. Locals shoot it, and Winter Range contestants shoot it. So we saw Long Hunter from Texas and Constable Nelson from Australia, among others. 6 stages a day, all good, well run. Shot mediocre first day with 2 train wrecks and 4 36 second stages.