The Old West is coming back to The Gate City Shooting Range on 2 1/2 Mile Road on Saturday at 10 a.m., and the Vaqueros Cowboy Shooting Club is holding an open house.

The public is invited to come listen to tall tales, shoot the old guns and find yourself back in time. Guns and ammo will be supplied by the Vaqueros Cowboy Shooting Club, an affiliate of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS).

SASS is an international organization created to preserve and promote the sport of cowboy shooting. SASS promulgates rules and procedures to ensure safety and consistency in cowboy shooting matches, preserving the history of the Old West and seeks to protect the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Cowboy shooting is a multi-faceted sport in which contestants compete with firearms typical of those used in the taming of the Old West. It is a timed sport in which shooters compete with single action pistol, shotgun and rifle in the “Spirit of the Game,” meaning contestants fully participate in what the competition requires. Contestants try their best to dress the part, use appropriate competition guns and respect the traditions of the old West.

Contestants normally have an alias such as Hank Crawford, Klamath Jack, Dave Mather, Shotgun Sally, Luke Short, Cactus Jack, etc.

Safety is the order of the day and cowboy shooting ranges are cold ranges, meaning that all guns are unloaded. The guns are only loaded at the loading table prior to shooting at the targets on the range. Firearms are then taken to the unloading table to eject spent brass and checked to make sure they are unloaded. All rifles and shotguns in racks must have their actions open.

Single action revolvers can only be loaded with five rounds and the hammer must rest on an empty chamber.

The rule of 170 is always in effect while shooting, meaning that the revolver, rifle or shotgun must not break 170 degrees as the shooter shoots on the course. Fanning of single action revolvers in order to shoot targets faster is prohibited. Leaving an unfired round in a holster is counted as a miss. Contestants may not move with a cocked weapon. Penalties will be assessed for dropped weapons. Everyone is a safety officer and may help keep the range safe by instructing others to follow the rules.

This year, a jail has been constructed and added to the Gully Ville Old West bay, so bring your camera and take a picture of family and friends in front of Gully Ville or looking out of the jail.

After the competition is over and everyone who is interested in shooting the firearms used in cowboy shooting is finished, there will be a lunch of hot dogs, chili and drinks for contestants and the public.

The Vaqueros shoot every third Saturday of the month and the set up time is 9 a.m. A safety meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. with shooting stages to follow.

For further information on the cowboy shooting open house, contact Steve McClung at his e-mail: smcclung7521@msn.com or Rick Hillman at 208-406-8501

Smokey Merkley was raised in Idaho and has been hunting since he was 10 years old. He was a member of the faculty of Texas A&M University for 25 years. There he taught orienteering, marksmanship, self-defense, fencing, scuba diving and boxing. He was among the first DPS-certified Texas Concealed Handgun Instructors. He can be contacted at mokeydo41245@hotmail.com.