September 2008 Journal

August 31, 2008


Rained, and we spent all day inside.

August 30, 2008


Riding Shotgun

Mancos Valley Stage Line

One of Mancos Valley Stage Line's Mud Coaches with a 4 up team led by Prince and Bud

I actually learned something from the SASS Wire, and not just that anyone who practices is a gamer or that anyone shooting smokeless powder or using both hands is a latent sissy. I was reading a thread about stagecoaches, and someone posted a link to Mancos Valley Stage Coach's website offering a real live stage coach ride in southwestern Colorado.

"Hmm, we're in southwestern Colorado. Where's Mancos?" Oh, 17 miles from the Cortez KOA.

They offer 1 hour tours, and 2-1/2 hour lunch or dinner tours in Weber Canyon.

We signed up for a lunch tour. I dressed in full SASS regalia. The Redhead dressed as The Redhead.

When we showed up and the owner, Eric, saw me, he said, "Hey, look at you! You look just right! You'd be right at home in this in 1880."

We learned quickly that Eric has been doing this since 1993. He and his father bought the land then. They had been playing with coaches as a hobby, buying and selling wagons and coaches, and training horses. His family owns a chain of hamburger joints in northern California. They now can run 5 coaches simultaneously in case a tour bus comes through. They have contracts with several tour bus companies.

Their route spends a little time on a county unpaved road, but most of it on a more authentic 1880s trail on their land and on adjacent land they've leased until they can get the entire course on their property. Thus you won't be meeting an authentic old west 1956 Chevy pickup truck.

Eric has an encyclopedic knowledge of stagecoaches, rattling off several makers names. Most of his coaches are mud coaches, built by several builders. The coach seen in most westerns is the Concord:

A Concord Coach

This was a patented design, and al Concord coaches were built by the same company. The Butterfield Stage route used Concords. They were not the best coaches for the rough trails of the mountainous areas of the west. The best coach for the rough trails of the west was the mud coach, made by several manufacturers and varying in grace and beauty.

Mud Coach

The Butterfield Overland Mail, also known as the Oxbow Route, was a stagecoach route operating from 1857 to 1861. It was a conduit for the United States mail from St. Louis, Missouri through Arkansas, Indian Territory, New Mexico, and Arizona, ending in San Francisco, California. The stage was an early operation of American Express and Wells Fargo.

The Butterfield Overland Mail Company had the government mail contract from September 15, 1857. Originally all of the Overland Stage owners had submitted routes with relay stations and frontier forts that were north of Albuquerque, New Mexico territory; they had no knowledge of what was called the ox bow route.

John Warren Butterfield (who was in a partnership with the principals of Wells Fargo for the American Express company) was paid $600,000 to get the mail between St. Louis and San Francisco in 25 days. At that time it was the largest land-mail contract ever awarded in the US. It was required by contract to go through El Paso, Texas and through Fort Yuma near present day Yuma, Arizona—the so-called "Oxbow Route". The western fare one way was $200 with most stages arriving 22 days later at its final destination.

This route was an extra 600 miles further than the central and northern routes through Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. However the southern route was free of snow.

The route called for the coaches to run 18-20 hours, with fresh horses changed out every 12-20 miles. People were packed in pretty much sardine-like. Coaches the size we rode held three in the front, three in the back, their legs interlaced, their shoulders touching. The cushions were thin. Passengers were also able to sit on the roof. The idea was to carry as many paying passengers as possible, so they were packed in. The mail contract was paying the expenses. Passengers were pure profit, and needed.

Comfort? A correspondent for the New York Herald, Waterman Ormsby, remarked after his 2,812 mile trek through the western US to San Francisco on a Butterfield Stagecoach thus: "Had I not just come out over the route, I would be perfectly willing to go back, but I now know what Hell is like. I've just had 24 days of it."

But a 2 hour ride through the beautiful Weber Canyon, was fun. The Redhead and I shared the ride with a family with a couple of ankle biters and a grandfather. We started off sitting on the roof behind the driver and shotgun. This was the best seat in the house.

The best seats in the house

After these photos ere taken, the people inside were allowed up top, and we were given the choice of sitting down below or sitting on the back of the roof. We chose the latter. That part of the ride had a roller-coaser familiarity since we couldn't anticipate what the horses were going to do.

The horses, by the way, were led by Prince and Bud. Bud is strong and eager, but he likes to fight with the other horses. The entire ride he was squabbling with Prince. This added excitement to the ride, especially when Bud reared up. They told us if Bud had been replaced by another lead horse, the ride would have been smoother and more incident free.


The lunchroom

Eric's wife, Lizzie, a Scotswoman who used to be a tourguide, hates cooking, but she has been unable to get a chef who met her standards, so she does it herself.

Lunch consisted of shredded barbecue briskit sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans, chips, and cookies, all you could eat of all. The dinner run has steaks cooked by Eric, big steaks. You don't have to eat all of it, but you will get a big, properly cooked steak of local beef.

Outside were several toys to occupy the children, bows and arrows, throwing tomahawks, BB guns, ropes and steel cattle. Being a SASS child, I threw tomahawks until my elbow gave out. If match directors are going to put them into shooting matches, I'm going to practice.

The family wanted back inside, so we got the front again. We never did ride inside.

When the ride was over Eric took us back out to get some pictures for The Cowboy Chronicle with me in the shotgun seat with a shotgun, and not the wall-hanger their shotgun rider uses, my race ready Coyote Cap 1887 Coach Gun. Eric mentioned a SASS group had been there that was big enough to fill one coach, and they all went armed to the teeth. Some of the runs encounter stage coach robbers. When this one appeared, he had his gun half drawn before being covered by 8 or so riders. The robbery didn't go of that day.

Riding shotgun

riding shotgun with scenery


August 29, 2008


Spent the morning watching the drama unfold on Sarah Palin. That was exciting. The Democrats chose a risky, out in left field Presidential candidate and he picked an old, safe, white guy, the ultimate insider, a 35 year sitting senator, for VP because Obama figures Hillary has bigger balls than he does, pissing off all of the feminists in the Democratic party and possibly blowing the election. The Republicans chose the only possibly electable candidate, and he chose Superwoman for VP. She's the very model all of those feminists wish they were, a woman who does it all. She has a family, a (man's) job, a macho husband (union member, champion snowmobile driver who finished one race despite a broken arm). He's the stay at home dad. She took on on corruption in government, in her own party. She dismissed her security team because she is armed and dangerous and doesn't need them. She sold the governor's jet on eBay to save money and flew commercial. Like McCain she has a son in the military. As a governor, she commands the Alaska National Guard. Hmm, that means she's also commanded more troops than the entire Democratic ticket. I also like the shot of her firing the M4. Wow. John McCain just threw a hot, smoking white phosporous grenade into Obama's lap and said, "Think fast." Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Then spent 2 hours on the phone with our financial guru. It's a quarterly thing.

While cleaning the cylinders on the ROA's I decided to change nipples on one gun. One wouldn't come out. The nipple wrench rounded off. Called Rowdy Yates, and he said he would drill it then insert an extractor. I told him I'd send it to him after next weekend's match. Later I found myself in Shooters World, the local gun store in Cortez, and they had an industrial strength nipple wrench. Back to the shop, and the nipple came out easily. It's all about having the right tool. Also found some lubed wads and Speer round balls at 2005 prices. Bought them out. Don't bother going unless you shoot .451 round balls.

Not sure how the nipple got mounted without Never Seize in the threads, but the new ones have it.

August 28, 2008


We drove to Silverton and found Bad Gene Poole's RV. Sadie (the dog) greeted us, but they weren't there. I didn't have Gene's phone #, so I called Omaha John for it. Omaha John has a rotator cup problem that interferes with his shooting and his reloading. He can only load about 100 rounds on his 650 before his shoulder gives out.

Caught Gene in the doctor's office. Called back. They were in Durango, so we went to Durango and met them. Gene almost cut his left arm off with a model airplane engine propeller. The .40 cu. in. engine (not 40 cc's, think much smaller) runs at 14,000 rpm's and swings a 10" propeller. I built flying model airplanes in junior high and high school and won some trophies at the Nationals, and I don't remember any accidents as bad as his. The big engines used in the big radio controlled warbirds have proven a lot more dangerous, as you would expect. Anyway, to get back to Gene. He's had major, and apparently, well done surgery. He has limited strength in his left hand. It's still swollen. Some ligaments had to be tied together, and he doesn't have independent control of his ring finger. He's in therapy twice a week in Durango (a 50+ mile drive from Silverton, where they spend the summer). Needless to say he hasn't shot a gun or flown a model airplane or helicopter since the accident. To make things worse, he'll be heading to the Mayo Clinic for some work on his heart, which has atrial fibrillation. He doesn't have an appointment yet, and they anticipate it'll take 3 months.

We learned something about Durango. At 3 PM all of the sidewalk cafes close. We finally found seats at the Cold Stone Creamery and talked over ice cream. We couldn't stay for dinner because neither of us wanted to drive the road back to Cortez in the dark.

Durango Custom Hats and Custom Saddles

I stop at every hat shop that does cowboy hats. This one used to be on Main but had moved to cheaper real estate on 2nd Avenue. We stopped by there on the way to Silverton, getting there at 1040. They were closed. The sign on the door said 11-5 Tues-Sat. We walked around town and came back after 1100. Still locked, and no lights. We fooled around until 1120 before giving up.

When we met Gene and his wife, we chose that location. Gene and I went in, both wearing cowboy hats. No one came out of the back to wait on us. We waited around. Gene went to the back room and got the attention of the lady there. She didn't come up front, though. Eventually we left. Now their hats start at $550, so I don't imagine they're 24 weeks backordered like Major Debacle is at Knudsen Hats. I could be wrong, but 2 guys in their 60s wearing cowboy hats would seem to be prime candidates. I have a Rand hat that cost more than their starter. But we were never waited on.

Molas Peak, 10,899 ft. elevation

Rge Redhead and George S. Patton, Jr. at Molas Peak

On the way to Silverton we stopped at Molas Pass for a really fantastic view. George S Patton, Jr. enjoyed the trip, too.



Just finished your book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Congratulations, hope it is a great success.  It brought back to mind a lot of stories that do begin "and this is no shit..."

J. R. Carr alias Judge Hazard A. Guess.

I had taken 4 copies of Common Valor to lunch after last weekend's match because Evil Roy wanted a copy. I sold all 4 in no time. I'll probably start hawking it at SASS matches. I've been reluctant to do so, not wanting to sell to my friends, as well as being aware that some SASS people will find the amount of sex and violence in it to be a problem.

August 27, 2008


Went to the Four Corners, the only place in the United States that 4 state boundaries touch. It's on an Indian Reservation, or, I suppose, Native American Country.

The Four Corners Monument

The monument is impressive, but it is surrounded by flea market stands, mostly empty when we were there, that look very trashy. I suppose it highlights the poverty of reservation life, but the views of the magnificent countryside were obstructed.

It is mandatory that you stand in the middle and touch all four states for a picture. So we did:

The Redhead and Capt. George straddle the Four Corners.

It was a pleasant drive.

August 26, 2008


Cleaned out the garage. It was pretty full of mud from Outlaw Trail. First blew out the floor with compressed air, then swept, then vacuumed. Then used shop towels and Glass Plus (well, that's what I had in stock) to scrub the floor, the corners, parts of the walls. Ran the compressor again. Swept again. Vacuumed again. You can still find #7-1/2 shot and primers in crevasses and hidden pockets (the parking chocks, for example).

The garage, with everything removed for cleaning in corners, etc.

Things normally strapped down, like the ladders and long, thin cases, were removed so I could scrub in corners.

Left wall with everything removed

Left, or driver's side wall with everything removed, after cleaning.

New hatrack (beta)

New hat rack, removable, in beta configuration. Working on the method of attaching it to the wall.

Front to back view with guncart, guns, and other stuff inside for maintenance

A more realistic view of the interior with the gun cart, gun cases, leather, etc. taking up floor space. It gets a lot worse in the middle of a match

The curb side with all the "stuff," the shop vac, stepladder, trash bag holder, and cooler.

The un viewed comedy routine of the day was me dumping #7-1/2 shot from the 15 ft. vacuum hose. Its shape traps shot. I "cleared" one section after another. Shake it and no shot. Finally dump all the shot out one end. Repeat. Repeat. Finally no sound in the entire hose. Roll the hose up to put it on the wall. The nozzle dropped down out of control and dropped 34 lb. of #7-1/2 shot on the freshly cleaned floor.

The gun cart needed repairs. The two vertical panels are held in place with 1/4 x 20 bolts and blind mounting nuts, the kind that have teeth to dig into the wood (fat chance with hard mahogany), and the inside edge is flared with a tool. The front holes in the inside panels had wallowed out, leaving the upper structure loose, which caused more wallowing of the hole. Steel spacers had been put in to stop this, but it hadn't worked. I decided the solution was to J B Weld up the holes, with the spacers in place. This took more doing than I expected, but all 4 holes are tight now. The rear bolts have knurled knobs and come out when I want to fold the top down for transport. The front bolts don't have to come out until I need to pull maintenance again.

Cleaned the guns from this weekend, 2 rifles, one shotgun, two percussion pistols, 10-15 minutes. I did cheat. The cylinders get put in a cheap Harbor Freight ultrasonic cleaner for 2-3 hours before the nipples come out functionally clean. Making them shine like new requires removing them, putting them into a properly threaded jig, and wire brushing them to shiny newness. There are people who do this every time they shoot the guns. I remove the nipples when they become peened from thousands of rounds of firing and need to be replaced. They're Tresos and work pretty well. One more match without a cap failure or failure to fire.

August 25, 2008


Moved to the KOA at Cortez. Very nice park. Nice views, uncrowded, long pull-throughs. Went out for dinner to Nero's. Nero's was closed on Monday. Went to a Brew Pub/Restaurant. Terrible. Won't be going back.

August 24, 2008


Five more stages, first 3 in shade with lots of BP smoke and sun in my face, backlighting the smoke. Slowed me down, of course. Shot 9 out of 10 stages clean, one miss on stage 8. Good match, lots of fun. No BS in the stages.

Then lunch, fall asleep watching the shoot off, not a comment on the shoot off, but of my fatigue factor. 1st Frontiersman. I so dominated the category that it was almost as if I was the only Frontiersman. Cerveza Slim 1st OA due to ER's problems Saturday. ER shot clean, but a safety and a procedural at least. He won the shoot off. Ruff Cobb was faster but missed once.

I'll be seeing most of the same people at Cortez in 2 weeks.

Sold 4 copies of Common Valor. I'd brought a copy for Evil Roy and one for Judge Hazard A Guess. I guess I should have brought 20. Might do that at future events. Cat is supposed to be reviewing it in the Cowboy chronicle. That'll help.

Back at the bus. TIRED. HOT. The bus is hot. It's just hot here.

Move to Cortez tomorrow.

August 23, 2008


Meeting 0800, shoot 5 stages, then lunch. Shot clean, not terribly fast. Shot 2 stages at each bay. Bays cut into the side of the mountain, 3 sided high berms, all dirt and rocks. Semi-permanent props in place. Good stages. No silly sweeps, no unidirectional sweeps. Pretty ambidextrous with some right hand bias.

Lunch with Tex and Cat and Evil Roy, Wicked Felina, Mad Dog Too, and Ramblin' Rose. Many stories about Happy Jack and his kingdom in the middle of nowhere.

Roy, by the way, has a safety and a procedural so far. Nice to know that even multiple time World Champions and kings of all they survey can occasionally have a bad day. It didn't seem to bother him. He was still having fun, as it should be.

That night was a banquet at the Marriott. Sat with Evil Roy and Wicked Felina. Good stories. Didn't win anything in any of the drawings, or any of the side matches, of course.

August 22, 2008


Went to the range for the shotgun side matches and afternoon warm up matches and side matches. The range is the San Juan Wildlife Refuge range. At the top of the hill is a building for admin, lunch, and awards. Then you go down a 70° slope with 90° turns with the outside edge being a sheer drop of 3,000 feet onto jagged rocks below. The range is on multiple levels. I took the ML to the second level for some of the matches but had to take a flatbed trailer down to the next level for the fastest pistol, rifle, and shotgun. My times didn't completely suck compared to the fast guys with smokeless cartridge guns like they used to. Amazing that in a small match, 4 posses I believe, that 65 were shooting Frontiersman. Gotta pull that Frontiersman For Dummies article. Okay, would you believe 45?

It should be noted that their long range matches went out to 880 yards. And you should see what they did with rifles.

Went back to the RV Park, picked up The Redhead and took her to the "barbeque" at the range. Tomorrow starts early.

August 21, 2008


Got the entry packet, went to Lowe's for "stuff," and took The Redhead to dinner at Outback.

August 20, 2008


Got the guns and stuff ready for this weekend's match, Shootout at Three Rivers, an annual match in Farmington.

August 19, 2008


Drove to Durango. Did the downtown tour. The hat store is gone. Appaloosa Trading Company seems to have changed, though not necessarily for the better. Lots of construction. One building has been torn down, and they're building a new building in the middle of a block of buildings over 100 years old. I'll be interested to see what it looks like when done.

Looked for Aspen Rose RV Park. Very snooty place north of Durango, $50 a night and sold out through September 3rd. We were looking for a place to stay between the Farmington event and the Colorado State Championship in Cortez, which starts Sept. 4.

The KOA in Durango is also full.

Made reservations at the KOA in Cortez. Kind of been there, done that concerning Durango. No real desire to do the train again unless the cast from La Femme is there doing their show in the bar car.

Dawgtooth Dave sent this picture of the winners of Frontiersman at Outlaw trail, 3, 2, 1 reading left to right. There were 6 in Frontiersman.

Frontiersman winners at Outlaw Trail, 3rd place, Shaky Shoother, 2nd place Dawgtooth Dave, 1st place, Capt. George

Shaky Shooter, Dawgtooth Dave, Capt. George

August 18, 2008


Drove to Bloomfield, NM. Happy Jack talked me into a RV park there, Desert Rose Resort. As usual I explained to the lady on the phone that our rig is 65 feet long. When we got there the orifice was closed (2 PM), and an envelope with our name on it was on a clip outside. We were assigned a space 40 ft. long with a narrow space between rows. The instructions for getting there would have put the trailer blocking the road—if I could get in at all. Getting out would be even more fun.

"Dave" came along and told us to go through a gate and turn left, then the trailer would be in the road but not blocking it. Like an idiot I tried it. Nope. No way. Backed out. One of the residents, Lee, helped me pick out a space on the "long" row, 60 ft. allegedly. With a lot of backing and filling we got it into the spot, with the trailer angled onto the road between spaces with enough room for people to get through.

Our parking space at Desert Rose RV Resort

Parked, got the truck out, went to dinner at Rubio's in Aztec. Best Mexican Restaurant we've found in New Mexico.

August 17, 2008


Outlaw Trail, Day 4, Shootoff, Awards

Really good Dutch oven breakfast buffet. Then most went to shoot in or watch the shootoff. It was meant to be using the shooting gallery, but technical problems kept them from it. Rifle and shotgun were used.

More Or Les started up the shooting gallery. I shot it—loved it. Helped Les load speed loader tubes with CB Shorts as paying customers showed up.

Hipshot and Tex did the awards presentation, very guick and low key. A lot of people had left. I won Frontiersman. Dawgtooth Dave was second, and Shaky Shooter was third. Despite what Hipshot said, we weren't the whole Frontiersman category. There were 6 of us crazies shooting percussion pistols with one hand.

Blackjack Zak was first overall, and Echo Meadows was first lady.

Prairie Mary tracked me down and got me to pay for the shooting gallery duck Hipshot forced me at gunpoint to bid on last night. She said they didn't have one, and I could pick a number from the ones remaining, and they would mail it.

Later Hipshot brought me one they found. It'll be the "BAR IS OPEN" sign for a while. If it's in the front window and up, the bar is open.

Got the bus and trailer ready to move tomorrow. Going to Farmington for their match. The floor was quite muddy from the messy weekend. It's drying out now. Keeping fingers crossed.

August 16, 2008


Outlaw Trail, Day 3, Third Main Match Day

Stages 13-18 out of 18

It's been unnaturally cool and wet all week, with rain at 1700 the last 2 days. Started off today cloudy, wet, almost misty, in the 50s. Lots of Fish slickers in evidence. Yesterday it warmed up enough that wearing a bib shirt was enough. Today I wore a vest and tie. Still not warm.

Shot the last 6 stages. Stage 17 was the best, 10 rifle Knockdowns, 5 pistol knockdowns. Start with rifle loaded with ten, then 2 pistols loaded with 5 rounds each, an a shotgun with "some" ammunition on your body. Shoot the targets in any order. If you shot it in 15 shots, you never used the second pistol or the shotgun. I did it in 15 shots. Shooting Frontiersman i then had to, AFTER THE TIME WAS WRITTEN DOWN, shoot 5 out of the other pistol to empty it. I wasn't keen on pulling caps off loaded cylinders. In practice or a local match I could have shot the rifle in 8± and the pistols in 5 or better, 13 total. Here I took 17.28. I thought it was slow, but it was the fastest Frontiersman (by 0.28 over Dawgtooth Dave). I noticed Rattler John shot it in 8.66, but then he gets to use 2 hands, cartridge pistols, and smokeless powder. Oh, yes, and he can shoot.

Shot clean, low stage time 17.28, high in the 30s.

Was going to play with the shooting gallery, but the skies opened, and it rained buckets.

Had people over for Margaritas. Still have some left. Was coerced by Hipshot into bidding $100 for a shooting gallery duck in the silent auction (for the SASS Museum). Everyone bidding $100 won, of course. Also bid on a TTN hammer double, but doubt I'll get it.

This was a really good event. It emphasized shooting. 30 stages in 4 days got tiring at times, but only because of shooting 12 on Wednesday. Our posse was low key, low tension. No prima donnas, no rule Nazis. Even keel. I'd like to shoot with them again. Annabelle thought it was a lot of work to be a posse marshal, but it doesn't have to be. When I was posse marshal at a few events shooting Frontiersman, I was forced to delegate. Every posse marshal should. I remember one who never picked up a timer and ran a good posse. If you have 3 or 4 good timer operator/ROII's, you can sit back and handle problems and disputes, and otherwise concentrate on your own shooting.

Let's see. Just going back to Winter Range and counting only major events, that's 12 stages, 120 rounds of pistol, 60 in the warm up, 160 more at Buffalo Stampede counting the warm up, 180 at EOT with the Warm up, 100 at the Rocky Mountain Regional Raid, 150 at HOW with warm up, and 240 here. Add some Plainsman matches, 40 for WR, 40 for EOT, 30 for Buffalo Stampede, 30 for RMRR, 30 for HOW. That's 1180 if my semi-addled mind hasn't failed me. I've been shooting 1 or 2 matches most weekends and practicing during the week. I haven't had a failure to fire one cap in that time period, probably 2000 rounds. I had some pop-fizz-bang hangfires, but I've learned how to avoid them. If you shoot Frontiersman you have all of the same problems you do in other categories, but additionally you have to make the pistols work.

August 15, 2008


Outlaw Trail, Day 2, Second Main Match Day

Stages 7-12 out of 18

Stages 10 and 11 were the bird stages. I was wrong. It wasn't 4 birds on one stage, it was 4 on 2 stages. 2 stages at the same bay, Bahia de Coto. I realized after doing Stage 10 that the train was a good place for a train wreck. For some reason, I opened the shotgun and ejected 2 rounds after shooting at the first bird. The birds had to be "engaged," so I inserted a round in order to "engage the long gone bird. I put the round in the right chamber. Wrong. Click. Eject. Insert 2. Fire one at long gone bird, one at first makeup knockdown, then reload and fire one at second makeup knockdown. By then the sun had set, and other posses were having dinner.

Things got better.One miss on that one, one on another (or possibly "The Ruger Old Army Syndrome.")* Nothing slower than high thirties. Dawgtooth Dave did the two bird stages well and made up a few points. He then had problems with hangfires and snaps.

(As I write this it's raining, and the scorecard is in the trailer).

Invited the posse over for Margaritas at 5. 10 people showed up--before The Redhead returned. So I had to do the Margaritas. Managed,though. Great group.

Too tired to go to the movie, "The Wild Bunch."

*The Ruger Old Army Syndrome—many shooters of ROA's claim that many of their "misses" are "stealth balls." Black powder has a longer sound impulse than smokeless. Thus it goes B-o-o-m instead of Bang. Shooting soft lead round balls that don't make a lot of noise can result in the B-o-o-m covering up the ding. If a target is "dead," the sound can be lost. Cures include shooting 210 Big Lube conicals, which is what Bad Gene Poole does, and shooting substitutes. Many of the substitutes have shorter impulses.

August 14, 2008


Outlaw Trail, Day 2, First Main Match Day

Stages 1-6 out of 18

Add 12 for the Warm Up and Wild Bunch Match, and you have 30 stages in 4 days.

Shot stages 1-6 this morning. Good stages. Good posse. Annabelle Peacock is posse marshal. I finished with 2 misses, highest stage time 39+, low 28.30. No train wrecks.

Some stories of why they pay posse marshals the big bucks:

Contestant was shooting Rifle/pistol targets, and knocked the leftmost down with last rifle shot. Pistols were double taps starting with center target. Contestant got confused and shot another target instead of shooting where the knocked down target was. earning a procedural. There were also some misses. Contestant asked for reshoot due to prop failure and got it.

Contestant arrived at unloading table with cartridge in rifle. Given minor safety.

Contestant arrived at unloading table with cartridge in pistol, not under hammer. No penalty other than the miss.

And you thought being a posse marshal was just a power trip.

Three Frontiersmen on the posse, Captain Ely, Dawgtooth Dave, and yours truly. A FCD, too. At least there's enough smoke to annoy the non-smoky shooters occasionally.

The lack of wind affected my times on the first 2 stages at least.

Didn't encounter the crossing birds... tomorrow. 4 on one stage. I thought about putting a can of BP under each launcher at midnight, but decided it'd narrow the pool of suspects too much.

It started raining at 1700. Tonight's plan, potluck and cowboy trivia. At Camp Baylor tonight's plans, rest and recuperation. shows 30% chance of rain tomorrow and 40% on Saturday. I'm doing my dry-weather-wind dance.

August 13, 2008


Outlaw Trail, Day 1, Warm Up Match and Wild Bunch Match

6 stage warm up match in the morning. Shot clean, high time 32.46, low 27.42. The ones in the 30s were delayed by smoke in the early morning calm. Felt really good. Pecos Clyde timed me once and said 1st shot 1.35, 10 shot Nevada sweep 8 something. The first was pretty good. The second was considering the smoke.

6 stage Wild Bunch match immediately after the warm up In fact the start was delayed by the finish of the warm up Our first stage was THE STAGE FROM HELL SQUARED. It was in the train. First 2 crossing birds. Didn't see either. 6 shotgun. My '97 holds 5. (Learned after the match how to make it hold 6). Happy Jack, who wrote the stage, has 2-1/2" shells for his. Then twenty pistol shots, moving right between mags, then 9 small rifle knockdowns. Tex got a stage DQ on the pistols moving with a cocked pistol.

After that the stages were good. The next was a variation of the moving buffalo with a bonus for shooting at it with the pistol vs. 5 close targets. Stages generally had 15-20 rounds with the pistol.

After the first stage no chance of winning anything. Just tried to redeem myself. Last stage was pretty good. 31.41, 9 rifle, 6 shotgun from position 2, 20 pistol from position 3 (double-tap Nevada sweep.) I guess that was redemption. Several first-timers had one disaster after another, usually with the '97. but I saw some real pistol disasters. If you're only able to practice one skill for this category, practice pistol reloads. I think 5 seconds was about par. There are some IPSC Masters rolling their graves. Try for 1.5 seconds shot to shot. We could do that in IPSC in the 80's. (Before the advent of shot timers we could do it in 1 second, but the timers, no doubt, slowed us down.)

Birthday party next door, T A Chance. Conversation till late.

At 2200 decided to run generator another 15 minutes to get batteries to 100%. At 2245 someone knocked on door to get us to turn the generator off. Woke me up. Gastric reflux. Thus I'm writing this after 2300 despite the fact I need to sleep to be at top form for 18 stage main match. Definitely an endurance race. Can't lose focus. Can't break anything. Can't misload the pistols or miss a bad round for the rifle.

August 12, 2008


VA, other errands, got guns ready for tomorrow, 12 stages, 6 warm up, 6 Wild Bunch. Walked next door about 4:30 looking for someone who knew where Jack Diamond was parked and got roped into Wild Bunch Rules meeting. Happy Jack had tweaked them with multiple inputs. Didn't take notes. Important point. For Traditional category a lowered or faired back ejection port is prohibited unless it was standard equipment. This means the Rock Island and the Springfield Armory Mil-Spec are legal in Traditional.

August 11, 2008


Pulled maintenance on the coach, new wiper blades, cleaned all the glass, Invisible Glass, good stuff. Finally used up the first can. Lasts a long time. Added 2 qt's of Transynd® to the transmission. You add it when the engine is stopped, of course, and you check it electronically after the transmission temperature has reached 194°F, using the shift control panel. When I finally could check it, I got the long searched for OL-OK, meaning we got it right. It had been telling me it was 3 qt's low (out of 29), so I added 2. Didn't want to overfill. NOTE: If you have an Allison transmission, checking the fluid level without the owner's manual or a lot of experience with them probably won't give you the right readings, and you might overfill, a very bad thing.

Brought the bus to Founders Ranch. Saw More Or Les while picking a parking place. He was very helpful. Backing into the parking place is getting easier every time.

While parking a worker angrily asked me, "Didn't you get the memo?"

"No, what memo?"

"Doors open for RV's at 9 AM Tuesday. It was in your (unintelligible)."

The parking lot is about half full of RV's, so I was a bit confused. "There are RV's all over the place."

"But they're working."

"Well, I can't work if I'm not here. What do you need?"

The worker, it should be noted, is one who works very hard and very long at Founders Ranch.

The Redhead reminded me we were going to come here Tuesday until the VA scheduled an appointment then.

We opened the ramp to check distance to the quicksand behind the parking place. The floor was covered in shotgun shell boxes and cans of various things. The front door to the side storage compartment hadn't been properly locked. We decided to fix it later. Tried to close the ramp, and a can of white paint (for targets) got caught in it and started spraying white paint. Threw it out of range. Not too much damage, but my face caught a bit of paint.

It took half an hour and a lot of fiddling to start the generator. It hadn't been started in over a month. Needed to be primed, and the starter needed to be held down 20 seconds. Giving up too soon meant it wouldn't start, and you have to leave it off for at least 2 minutes. Got out the book and went through trouble shooting. Never did find fuse F3, found 2, but not 3. A call to Onan/Cummins never did get through to someone who could actually help. Talked to 3 or 4 people who transferred me to another waiting queue with advertisements for Cummins products.

Primed it again and ran the starter for 20 seconds, and it caught and ran fine.

Straightened up the garage. Put the guns and cart in. Crazy Kurt had given me his 1911A1 clone to trouble shoot. I decided I don't want a Philippino 1911A1 clone. Trigger pull about 8 lb. Crisp, but too much take up, and way too heavy. He had problems with magazines. It works fine with mine. Then BIG MISTAKE:

Disassembled it. I've disassembled and reassembled lots of 1911s. But not lately. The plunger tube spring has now been to every dark corner of the inadequately lighted garage, and it's black, of course. Knew I liked plated guns better for a reason. But I found it every time. Found nothing really bad. The disconnector had been fitted and polished. The hammer and sear were rough. Stoned the sear a bit. Not having a jig didn't want to screw it up, no spares. Also polished the sides. There was drag against the frame. Tried adjusting the sear spring. Put grease on the sear. Reassembled, with great difficulty, resorting to a video online. Everything works. Trigger still too high, nearly 7 lb. Best I can do. Needs a gunsmith. I could probably get it to 5-1/2-6 with a decent sear spring, but don't have one.

Went to dinner at a little Chinese restaurant in Edgewood with More or Les, Giggles, Hipshot, and Adobe Walls Shooter. Great Chinese food, great service, great company. Lots of juicy SASS stories I can't tell. Probably put them in a book to be published after my death. That should make a bunch of SASS people very solicitous of my health. (Just kidding... or am I?)

August 10. 2008


Went to Founders Ranch for the High Desert Drifters match. Wound up on a posse with Rattler John and Crazy Kurt. They probably should be separated. But they're fun to watch, very fast, very smooth. Good tips from both of them. For an email with those tips send $10 cash, no checks.

If these stages are representative of Outlaw Trail, it's going to be good. The TARGETS are, I'm told, set up for Outlaw Trail. Very good. I'm aware that the scenario writer can turn them into hell with a few reverse Lawrence Welk Sweeps, New Joisey Sweeps, tomahawk throws, handcuffs, etc. That and no Mattie Silks category.

Shot pretty well, down into the 20s occasionally. One stage was going well and the rifle went pop instead of bang. I assumed it was a squib and put it down. Afterwards I opened the breech, and the round popped out, bullet still in place. The Federal Primer had gotten inserted sideways, so it fired, but not into the flash hole. I don't know how that passed my QC. This was match ammo. A close examination of the remaining ammo ensued. I'll be looking for similar screw ups in future to avoid that. 28 second stage but with 4 misses. @#$!%!!

We're planning on moving the bus to Founders Ranch tomorrow. The plan was to get a good parking place. 2 or 3 RVs and 50 yards of yellow tape have reserved all of the ones in front of the Jersey Lilly ALREADY. The joke could be on them, though. The spots closer to the main entrance are higher, and the lower spots flood in rainy weather. Shaky Shooter called it Flounder's Lake when it rains.


Here's the rule:

If you see our bus at a SASS event, and the ML is there (meaning The Redhead isn't at a casino), and it's 5 PM, and I'm not still shooting or at some activity, and you haven't pissed me off enough to shoot you, then you're invited to the bus for Margaritas. If we're shooting late, etc., then Margaritas will be delayed. If we're shooting until 5, and the costume contest is at 5:30, margaritas will be delayed until tomorrow.

August 9, 2008


Went to the Renegades math. Wrote 5 stages using lines from Blazing Saddles. Each stage had a line for "Good guys," and one for "Bad guys." Example: "Candygram for Mongo," and "Mongo like candy." The last stage had a line for men, "Excuse me while I whip this out," and women had, "Why don't you loosen your bullets?"

Each was a simple stage, no procedural traps. The weather intervened, and it was sprinkling after stage 3. I was asked to write a 4th stage for the first bay in order to save time so at least 4 could get out before it rained. The rain just toyed with us, even though it poured 9 miles away at the RV Park. We cut it off at 4 stages.

August 8, 2008



Not being Chinese the symmetry of the date doesn't do much for me. It does remind me that Chinese customers wouldn't buy some cars because of their numbers. I think it was 400SELs and the like, 4? or was it 3?

Finished boxing up the shotgun rounds I loaded here. Total boxes in stock, 106. I won't me loading shotguns for a while. I have a lot of .38 brass that needs to be loaded. I'm running low on .45 Colt and .45 ACP ammo.

Cleaned up the shop in preparation for moving to Founders Ranch Monday. Putting on the match at Rio Grande Renegades tomorrow, so I needed to print the scenarios and stage diagrams. Put one set in document protectors. Also put in document protectors the starting lines in large print to be posted at the starting position. 20% chance of rain in the PM tomorrow.

August 7, 2008


Worked in the garage. Put new 16" wire wheels on the gun cart. More work than expected. Of course. Needed new axles as they're wider than the old ones. My axles are 1/2" O.D. steel tubing over 3/8" threaded rod, with nuts holding the wheels in place and stacks of washers acting as spacers. Not rocket technology.

Apparently steel tubing is. Lowe's steel tubing had an O.D. of .5004. The wheels have ball bearings with I.D. of .5000. Attempts to thin the steel tubing proved fruitless. Took the old axle in the front, cut it in half, put 2 nuts in the center of the threaded rod, and adjusted the axles with the nuts. The rear was no problem. Used the old axle.

Boxed up 20 boxes of match 12 ga. ammo. I'm ammo heavy in 12 ga., okay in .38, light in .45 ACP and .45 Colt smokeless. Still have too much .45 Colt smoky. It's for sale at matches for $15/box.

August 6, 2008


I had asked Joy Melcher, The Civil War Lady, for a description of THE Dress so I could describe it for costume contest judges. What she sent is definitely more than I can use in a 1 minute presentation.

Spanish aristocrat, beautiful countess Eugenie de Montijo, married Napoleon III. The beautiful Empress Eugenia, who was elegant and extravagant, dictated fashion trends on the court, mingled with European queens and influential aristocratic women, was adored by everyone and inspired artists, of course. She became a fashion icon in France in the 1850's, 1860's and 1870's.

Ladies copied her fashions and dyed their hair shades of red to emulate her. Her name was applied to a myriad of fashion styles and accessories. Her gowns were legendary.   To historians and designers, the name of Eugenie is inextricably linked with fashion history.

Biographers Norris and Oswald wrote, "At a public ceremony attended by the Empress, .... her magnificent dress was entirely covered with Alencon lace valued at 25,000 Franks." The value to the dollar and  inflation - a low estimate would be $100,000 of today's dollars.  One of the many descriptions of Eugenie's gowns by Worth stated: " Henceforth the Empress of the French, often appeared in dresses composed of multitudinous flounces of tulle, organdie, gauze, etc. -- excellent foils for her marvelous jewels."  Eugenie was known to favor these lightweight and diaphanous gowns supported by the grand crinoline hoops which even Queen Victoria aptly emulated setting the stage for the British fashion world, which was then copied by the American women.

On one occasion it is stated the Empress was arrayed in white tulle strewn with diamonds to the value of two million - a fortune in the19th century!  The 1860's gown worn by the Empress of fashion encapsulates the gown Debbie wears today :   "White gauze trimmed with silver, pastel shades were her particular fancy, and most enchanting with her fair complexion and golden red hair."    Debbie's lovely diaphanous gown epitomizes this very iconic fashion the Empress wore. A large crinoline hoop, covered by a layer of white taffeta, draped with an overskirt of sheer embroidered  organza.  Finally, it is bespeckeled with tiny glitters that emulate the very diamond encrusted sheer gown the Empress wore in the description. These expensive gems would reflect the candlelight's in the ballroom and dinner room, bringing all attention to the wearer by making her sparkle.

Debbie's long point front bodice gives the waist a very slimming effect bringing the eye downward.  Her ornate sleeves with their wide generous flounce gives width to her shoulders.  This feature of exaggerated widened shoulders, pointed bodice and large crinoline gives the optical illusion of tiny waist.

The gown is modestly cut, anything that would show even the slightest hint of cleavage would be scandalous for a genteel lady in the 1860's. The neckline is piped with matching material and the bottom of the bodice surrounding the point is "double piped", a treatment which can be found on more expensive fabrics such as this. The bodice was sewn separately and then hand sewn to the skirt as in the fashion of the day.  It sensibly assures the wearer the skirt will not separate during dance or raising of one's hand to accidentally show midriff or underpinnings while on the dance floor.  The 5 yards of taffeta underskirt are cartridge pleated into the waistband and the organza sewn over top.

(The Redhead looks better in her dress than Princess Eugenia did, but she could benefit having 3 ladies in waiting who look like these. That should impress the judges. Maybe they could lace up the dress. Of course there's no way the 4 of them could get dressed in their finery in the bus. crr)

The back of the gown is laced together with tiny little lacing openings.  The lacing effects  adds a lovely accent to the gown.  Because this gown is layered with 8 yards of taffeta AND 8 yards of organza, 16 yards of fabric make this gown a true luxury. It makes a lovely rustling sound when Debbie sashays on the dance floor.  This fabric with embroidery and sparkled disks IS the beauty of the gown.  Like Empress Eugenie's expensive gown encrusted with gems, there is no need for additional trim, it speaks for itself.

Details such as lined hem, boning for structure, piping and tailoring give historical accuracy to this stunning gown.  This light colored gown was very appropriate to wear into the ballroom and dinner party by women of all ages.  Light colors reflected lights well and were highly sought after.

Debbie's headpiece was copied from an original headpiece in "Godley's ladies' Book" from the 1860's.  Worn with  proper white gloves and a formal fan, Mrs. Baylor will also become a fashion icon!


If you send me a "Chain" email with the command, "PLEASE DO NOT BREAK THIS CHAIN," and/or a command to forward to X people within the next X minutes and/or the dire warning that something terrible will happen to you if you don't or something wonderful will happen to you if you do, I WILL BREAK THE CHAIN. I WILL NOT FORWARD ANY MASS EMAILING THAT ASSUMES I AM SUCH AN IDIOT THAT I WILL BELIEVE THAT SOME EMAIL WARNING HAS DEVELOPED MORE THAN GOD-LIKE POWERS AND CAN CONTROL MY FATE BASED ON MY FORWARDING AN EMAIL THAT IS PROBABLY BOGUS TO START WITH.

My failure to follow these stupid emails does not mean that I want troops to be killed in Iraq or puppies to be killed in Detroit or Barak Obama to be elected Pope. I may agree that the story in this email is a neat one. I might even remove the warnings at the bottom and, after checking it out with Snopes, send it to one or two people. I'll be more likely to do this if you first remove the mumbo-jumbo at the bottom that promises/threatens me.

I once received a mass emailing that was not totally debunked by, but I can't remember what it was about.

Additionally, I am still receiving emails that were debunked by in 1999.

Renegades Practice Session

Good practice session. The club president saw me practicing rifle reloads (which I do every practice session if I can) and made a plea not to have any of those awful rifle reloads in the match Saturday. They usually have aerials and little bitty targets thrown in. I promise to not have any of those.

August 5, 2008


Spent most of the day at the VA Hospital. 2 appointments. I think this will be the last for a while. One doctor had shown alarm at a 2 mm spot on one lung on a CT. Another didn't think it was worth doing another CT and giving me more radiation. He asked several other doctors and got several different opinions. Compromised on doing a chest x-ray and scheduling a CT for 6 months hence.

Tired. Too tired to do anything in the garage. Boy, do I have a lot to do in the garage before moving the bus to Founders Ranch Monday. Where does the time go?

Letter from "THE EYE OF THE STORM"

From my brother-in-law. You might have to be from a hurricane prone area to appreciate this. I've left it uncensored:

Subject: you want to call Edouard

Oh my God!


OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!

Thank your lucky stars you're not on the Gulf coast right now! It's just horrifying! There's a damn hurricane slamming into the Greater Houston area as we speak!


Okay, so not a hurricane...

A tropical storm...

Sort of...'s just fucking RAINING!!!!

Thank God most of the city is closed today. All non-essential city employees were told to stay home today.

And exactly who are the ESSENTIAL city employees? They weren't specific, but I can't remember ever meeting one!

All the morons that filled up their gas tanks and bought every last loaf of bread and bottle of water in the city yesterday were hunkered down under their homes today instead of being out on the road on their cell phones! It was the most pleasant drive in to work today I can remember.

But it's not really the storm that you're lucky to be away from. It's the news media!!! The big three...ABC, NBC and CBS...have been doing non-stop, up-to-the-minute, breaking storm coverage...since about 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon. We got to watch it rain all the way from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to Lafayette to Lake Charles to Beaumont to...well, you get the picture.

"The wind is gusting up to 25 mph in Galveston!", says one reporter...with a straight, almost serious and concerned look on her face.

Oh my God!!! Pull down the windsock, Grams! It's a gonna be a big one!!!

Doesn't the wind normally gust up to around 25 mph in Galveston???

I think my favorite this the non-stop, up-to-the-minute, breaking storm coverage was the poor bastard down in Bolivar, you know..the NEW guy trying to get his face on TV...handling the non-stop, up-to-the-minute, breaking storm coverage standing in front of a barbecue joint. There's one of those sandwich board signs that says something about the best BBQ in Crystal Beach and it's...

Wait for it...


It's actually laying on its side on the ground!

"OH MY GOD! WE HAVE SOME STORM DAMAGE!!!", thinks the previously mentioned newscaster...with the same stern, concerned look on her face. And then the stern, concerned female broadcaster sitting in her warm, dry chair in the studio asks the poor bastard standing in the rain doing the non-stop, up-to-the-minute, breaking storm coverage live from Bolivar if the WIND BLEW THAT SIGN OVER?!?!?

And the poor bastard doing the non-stop, up-to-the-minute, breaking storm coverage replies, "Well, actually Bimbo", (okay...he probably didn't say Bimbo, but I'm pretty sure that's what he was thinking), "That sign was like that when we got down here last night."

As in, it's probably been laying on its side for a couple of weeks!

I actually thought about calling in today and staying home...

But I couldn't take the news coverage any more. It's less stupid being here!!!

Just wanted to say HI and share the stupidity with someone I knew would appreciate it! Hope all is well with you...and hope this storm doesn't get all the way up there!

Thank you,

Dave McCracken

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow! What a ride!"

August 4, 2008


FINALLY got to see a Urologist at the VA. Only took a year or so of trying. PSA 0.0. At this point odds 60-70% against cancer recurring, at least that brand. There are so many. In all other respects I'm doing better than nearly everyone at this point after the surgery. The renal cyst that had shown up on the CT and required an ultrasound turned out to be a non-problem.

Despite all the good news, we were both exhausted after the hospital visit. I knew there was stress when I had higher than normal blood pressure when the nurse did the screening. Blood pressure's never been a problem. My God, if I had high blood pressure I'd have to stop salting my Margaritas!! That's blasphemy!!

Dropped the '97 off at Jack Diamond's for work. I've shot it, so it needs work. It's a '97. If I'm going to shoot Wild Bunch matches*, I'll need a spare. Looking for an IAC with an 06- prefix on the serial number. They're right and they're inexpensive. Would take a trench gun, too. They're legal, and they have the cool factor.

Got an email from someone who likes the blog, except the CAS part. "It sounds laborious." Well, yeah. It keeps me busy and off the streets.

August 3, 2008


Shot with Buffalo Range Riders at Founders Ranch. Good match. 6 stages, well done. The targets were set up as they will be for Outlaw Trail (allegedly. Pistol targets were close to medium. Rifle targets were close to far, but pretty decent size. Shotguns were medium to long. Shot 5 stages clean, I think. Might have been 4.

We finished a good 45 minutes before the other posse, and we didn't hurry. Different leadership?

Waited for the other posse. Shot the fastest pistol side match and fastest rifle side match while waiting. Big buffalo dump target, close for pistol, distant for rifle.

5ish when I got back to the bus. Tired.

August 2, 2008


Went to Founders Ranch and helped with set-up for the Buffalo Range Riders match tomorrow, then got to practice for a couple of hours. Good practice using their targets, no standing in line, no kibitzing. I just need about 2 hours a day for 6 months to rise to mediocrity.

Exhausted, though. Gastric reflux got me up in the middle of the night. Insomnia kept me up. It's pretty bad when you're reading the SASS Wire at midnight. It's even worse when you're posting.

George S. Patton, Jr.

Forgot in yesterday's blog that the biopsy came in benign, and the surgeon got all of the tumor, so GSP should recover nicely. We took off the "Cone From Doggie Hell" to see how he would act. Had to put it back on at bedtime since he started licking his leg. He's spent most of the day with it off with no problems.

August 1, 2008


Worked in the garage. Finished making 1,000 match rounds using Top Brass. Evil Roy had been touting Top Brass, and we knew he wasn't using it because they didn't make .38. They just started. Apparently there's no profit in .38 brass. Seems to be good, consistent brass. 1,008 rounds unless I lost some in the process. One got damaged in reloading. The others made match quality rounds. Cost a little less than Starline.

I use new brass for major matches after I lost Hell on Wheels in 07 because of a bad rifle round. I meant to make 500 of 105 gr. and 500 of 125 gr., but I miscounted and have 550 of 125 and 450 of 125. This is probably a better ratio. 105s are good for most stages. 125s are for longer ranges and, of course, knockdowns. Yesterday when practicing I put out paper targets and checked zero at 10 yards for the pistols and 25 for the rifles, adjusting the sights a bit on the rifles. The pistols were fine with 105s, about an inch low, on with 125s. I just used 125s for the rifles. I need to make up some of a special load, 125 with a full case of 777 3f. That's what I used for the "Winchester '73" shot at EOT. It worked, but they drew the wrong name. Life's hell dealing with incompetents. They just don't listen.

Dinner for 2 at La Placita in Old Town. The best Mexican Restaurant we've found in ABQ. Not great, but better than most of the ones we've found in town. It's hard to impress a Texan with a Mexican restaurant.