Mounted Shooters Clinic gets a start in Prineville

   Faye Taylor
   It was quite apparent that the cowboys and cowgirls gathered at the Lauman Ranch the weekend before Thanksgiving were thoroughly enjoying themselves.
   Most were dressed in late 1800's period clothes and the lingo was as thick as the mud on their boots. They called each other names like Doc, Buck and Mustanger and the women were no exception, going by Wildcat Calhoun and Cactus Kitty.
   Who were these strange cowpokes and what were they up too? Leading the group were representatives of the Yamhill County Mounted Shooters Association. Most were World Champion Mounted Shooters, four of whom were invited to shoot at the Olympics. They are getting new groups started all over the Northwest.
   "The most important thing is to have fun while competing in this sport," one cowboy said. "And doing it safely is number one." "These are real guns," Dale Merten chimed in. "single action, 45 revolvers, but the bullets are blanks, just like in Hollywood. They're packed with walnut shells and a little gun powder," he went on to explain. "They won't pop a balloon any farther away than 15 feet."
   Another safety precaution was ear protection. Believe it or not most of the horses, as well as the riders, wore earplugs.
   Experts rode alongside novices to give instruction. Trained horses taught the inexperienced horses. "We use the herd mentality to train the inexperienced horses," Mert said. "The inexperienced horse will do what the experienced horse does. 99 percent of horses don't have a problem with the guns."
   Kitty and Rick Lauman, who hosted the event, are horse trainers and are hoping to put together a local group of mounted shooters in Prineville. "Now that we have some trained horses that are used to guns, we can train other horses," Kitty said. All are welcome to take part _ old hands and greenhorns too. Anyone interested in becoming a mounted shooter is invited to contact Cactus Kitty and Bronco Peeler (Rick) at 447-8912.