Cowboy mounted shooting is fast-paced, action-filled horseback riding with skilled shooting and it's coming to the Ravalli County Fairgrounds this weekend, August 9–11.
“It is like barrel racing with guns,” said Ken Jones event coordinator and president of Montana’s Make My Day Mounted Shooters. “There are no bullets. We shoot black powder and it will pierce the balloons because it is hot. We have 10 balloons on a course and you shoot five balloons with one gun, and put it in your holster and shoot five with the other and the fastest guy wins.”
Missing a balloon costs a five-second penalty.
Jones called it a family-sport where the mounted shooters compete in 26 classes based on age and gender.
“You can start as young as 12 and many people shoot until they are 70 or 80,” he said. “We’ll have shooters and world champions here from Oregon, Canada, Utah, Washington, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. I have over 60 shooters signed up right now.”
Organizers are hoping the 7 p.m. Friday night event draws a big crowd as all the funds will benefit the Sapphire Lutheran Homes. The evening will have extra excitement as Friday night is an eliminator where everyone goes and the fastest times get to do a second run.
“It’s a one shot deal,” Jones said. “You see people go faster on Friday night.”
The main matches are in the cool of the morning, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday. There are five different patterns and scores are cumulative on all patterns added together.
“It’s pretty fun to watch,” Jones said. “People go and they love it. The cool thing is that it is unlike barrel racing where the patterns are drawn out a hat so you never know what you’re running and your horse can’t learn the pattern, so he has to listen to you.”
The Friday night event to benefit Sapphire Lutheran Homes costs $5 for admission and spectators will see horsemanship and marksmanship delivered with speed. Sapphire Lutheran Homes will offer a 50-50 raffle and there will be food vendors at the event to make an evening of it.
“We want to get a big crowd out to promote the sport and to help Sapphire make a little money,” Jones said. “They do so much for the town. Dominic is helping to announce. We are going to start with the Bitterroot Mountettes, the local ladies mounted drill team. They will give a great demonstration.”
Dominic Farrenkopf, director of Community Life, Activities & Volunteer Coordinator for Sapphire Lutheran Homes, said the unique event will be a blast.
“I love putting on great community events and this one will be no exception,” Farrenkopf said. “We are taking our residents and they and their families can sit in the VIP seating. I am really looking forward to this unique entertainment for the community. I hope a lot of people attend the event and that they all have a blast in the Bitterroot!”
Jones said the show will be exciting to watch.
“It goes fast, a run is between 10 to 20 seconds and the event moves right along as fast as we can,” he said. “Everyone will see some world champions do some really good shooting, really talented people on really fast horses.”