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Ted Blocker: holster maker is quick on the draw

ed Blocker has always been “a Western kind of guy,” dressing up as a cowboy when he was a just a little buckeroo, and never really getting those cowboy ways out of his system.

Blocker is also an inventor, designer, entrepreneur, fast draw competitor, horse trainer and all around cool guy.

He’s had a construction company, a cosmetics business and, probably closest to his heart, a company that made gun holsters, belts and leather goods.

It’s a craft he still practices.

Blocker may have been infused with the cowboy spirit while growing up in Turner, in a home that was originally a Wells Fargo stage stop.

“I’d classify him as a genius. He holds many patents,” says Cal “Quick Cal” Eilrich, executive director of the Nevada-based Cowboy Fastdraw Association.

Blocker’s company made leather holsters and gear for individuals, law enforcement agencies, and the entertainment industry. His handiwork has been on Miami Vice, The Dukes of Hazard and in many movies.

That holster company grew quite large and he sold it about 20 years ago, although it still carries his name.

But Blocker did not give up making holsters. He has been making hand-crafted Western holsters and belts in his shop in Estacada over the last few years and sells about 200 items a year over the Internet. The company is called Shaniko, his cowboy fast draw handle.

At 72 years old, why not retire?

“This is what I like to do,” he says simply, shrugging.

“He is one of the top holster makers in the world,” Eilrich says. “His holsters are very sought-after and are used by some of the best shooters in the world.”

Many of Blocker’s clients participate in fast draw or cowboy action shooting contests nationwide, a sport he and his wife still enjoy. In fact, his wife of 54 years, Jean, set a fast draw record of .31 seconds on the David Frost Show in the 1970s.

“Ted is still an extremely fast shooter himself,” Eilrich says.

The Blockers travel all over the West attending the fast draw association meetings and contests. “We have friends from this we’ve known for 45 years,” Blocker says.

The Blockers ride horses and have an impressive barn and indoor riding ring on their six-acre Estacada ranch. “He has quite an extensive knowledge of horse training,” Eilrich says, “the man knows how to communicate with horses. He is very well-respected in that field too.”

Another of Blocker’s inventions is a tie ring to tether horses. “He has sold tens of thousands of those things,” Eilrich says.

Blocker first got into the holster business because he couldn’t find equipment he wanted for his fast-draw sport.

“I saw the need for a new holster, but nobody would make if for me,” he says. Blocker had a friend that made holsters for law enforcement and he helped Blocker make his idea of a steel-lined holster a reality.

Now, in his one-man shop, the leather comes to him in large, fleshy colored sheets. He cuts everything by hand using stiff paper patterns and a regular box knife. He coaxes the leather into rich, warm shades of brown and sews the holster parts together on an old-fashioned leather stitching machine.

He makes holsters, belts and “rigs,” which are the belt and holster set used by cowboys and fast draw competitors. Blocker has a patent pending on an innovative belt buckle design.

When asked about how he continues to invent new designs for all this gear, he just smiles and says “It’s just what I do.”

Says Eilrich: “The guy, whatever he gets into, he comes up with a way to make it better.”