Shoot-out at the Bosque to bring Wild West to BF Rodeo Arena

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Get ready for a Wild West Shoot-out at the Bosque this weekend at the Bosque Farms Rodeo Arena.

Cowgirls and cowboys, many in old-time western clothing, will demonstrate the skills of gun fighting from the hurricane deck of a speeding horse.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Renee Robichaud, left, and Donnie MacDougall, right, are two of the pistol-toting competitors who will demonstrate shooting targets while riding speeding horses at the Shoot-out at the Bosque this weekend. The event is free to the public at the Bosque Farms Rodeo Arena.

Fast horses and single-shot western pistols and rifles are the stock in trade of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, the nation’s fastest-growing equine sport.

The event, which is free to the public, is sponsored by the New Mexico Territory Cowboy Mounted Shooters. It runs from 9:30 a.m. until mid-afternoon Saturday and Sunday.

There will be concession stands, and Po Boys Smoke Shack will sell barbecue.

The sport is similar to barrel racing in that shooters take turns racing into the soft dirt arena to ride through a designated pattern of targets.

There are more than 60 patterns that can be changed every hour to keep shooters on their toes.

“The patterns are drawn randomly the morning of the shoot,” said Renee Robichaud, the match coordinator. “So, there’s no preparation.”

The fastest rider who hits every balloon wins the competition, but winning is just a by-product of a whole lot of fun.

“Here you’ve got this whole thing where you have a racing horse and a decorated cowboy or cowgirl running with old-time pistols, shooting it up,” said fellow match coordinator Donnie MacDougall, a local veterinarian and New Mexico mounted shooter member. “It’s a big shoot-out, and it’s exciting.”

MacDougall won the Reserve World Championship Select Amateur Cowboy Mounted Shooting title at the 2012 American Quarter Horse Association Cowboy Mounted Shooting World Championship Show.

Dozens of mounted shooters will compete for a jackpot and other cash prizes at the Shoot-out at the Bosque.

Competitors must be members of the CMSA. It’s feasible that an experienced mounted shooter could sign up for CMSA membership the day of the event, pay the entry fees and shoot that day, MacDougall said.

“The day before this whole thing starts, we’re going to have a professional clinician (Dan Byrd) come in from Phoenix to do training,” he said.

There are also side matches for additional fees that will take place after the main event, and there is a no-gun-fire children’s wrangler competition.

“It’s still on horseback,” said Robichaud. “It’s all the same rules, they just don’t have live gunfire. They do the same patterns that the adult shooters do. It’s really for them to prepare for a day when they can shoot.”

Both Robichaud and MacDougall have lifelong experience riding horses and shooting firearms, but it had never occurred to them to combine the two.

“You’ll hear that same story from almost every mounted shooter,” MacDougall said. “They shot, they hunted or they did target shooting, but then when the two meshed, it’s like marriage or something.”

It has become an obsession, because it’s just hard enough to keep you excited to try again, said Robichaud.

The Bosque Farms Rodeo Arena is located at 1040 Arena Road, just off North Bosque Loop. It’s a noisy event, so bring your ear plugs in case they run out at the event. The horses will be wearing ear plugs, too.

For more information, call Renee Robichaud at 948-3027, or visit the websites of the national organization, the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association at www.cowboymountedshooting.com or the New Mexico Territory Cowboy Mounted Shooters at www.nmmountedshooters.com

The state organization has about 50 active members.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.