While many people celebrated the holiday weekend by going to the movies and watching blockbusters like Despicable Me 2 and The Lone Ranger, some folks found that it could not compare to shooting like a real cowboy in Virginia City, Nevada. The 601 Vigilance Committee sponsored the first annual Shoot-Out on the Hill charity event in the heart of the historic Comstock Lode to support local children.
Participants came from Oregon, California, Texas, and the local community to shoot real rifles, pistols, and shotguns. They learned proper firearm safety from gun experts, and had their speed and accuracy logged.
“Bobcat Tyler” (Tyler Renville), 20, the California champion SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) provided a shooting demonstration that occurred so quickly I turned around to get a bottle of water and by the time I looked back, I had missed it. Luckily, he shot again at another station so I was able to witness his impressive skills firsthand. Bobcat won 2nd place “Gunfighter” in the World Championship, and 13th overall.
Several shooters had never experienced firing a gun before; however, new Reno resident Lachlan McKinney just wanted somewhere to shoot. McKinney and his girlfriend, Chase McKenna, moved to the area from Southern California only two days before the event; McKinney shoots approximately two times per month and wanted a fun event for the holiday weekend, The Shoot-Out on the Hill filled the need.
For visitors Christy and Mark Burbank, they wanted a SASS experience and a vacation from their Oregon home, so they headed to Virginia City for a small-town Fourth of July vacation. “My husband has recently gotten an interest in Cowboy Action Shooting so I Googled SASS. The first article that appeared was yours about the Virginia City 4th of July Celebration. It had been over a year since my husband and I had taken a vacation so spur of the moment we decided to go to Virginia City (this was my husband’s first visit.),” emails Christy about their visit.
“My husband absolutely loved it! I thought it was neat too, but definitely for my husband it was the highlight of our journey. He couldn’t stop talking about it. We spent the next 2 days in Reno going to gun stores!” her email continues about the Burbank’s trip. She ends by writing, “To sum it up, it was a perfect day in the old west with cowboys, guns and friendly folks. I would definitely do it again!”
The Shoot-Out on the Hill followed the traditional Virginia City Fourth of July parade. The parade began with the town’s trusted and remarkable lawman, Sheriff Gerald Antinoro, making his way down the main street in his patrol car, waving to the throngs of locals and visitors crowded along the wooden sidewalks.
The special surprise guest as Grand Marshall this year was Owen Ritchie, a Vietnam Veteran who has flown over 1,400 hours of in combat. Ritchie smiled and waved to the crowd as his beautiful wife, Nancy, sat in the Jeep wiping away tears.
When The Shoot-Out on the Hill ended, David John and the Comstock Cowboys played a free concert in the parking lot of the Bucket of Blood Saloon. Their music wafted through town as shooters, parade participants, The 601 Vigilance Committee, visitors, and residents settled in for the evening to listen to them play and to get ready to watch the night sky light up with fireworks as we commemorated our nation’s independence.
During a break from the music, Fred Dutton, The Deadly One (The 601 Vigilance Committee’s original lifetime member, there are 12 – The Deadly Dozen), took over the stage to announce the winners of The Shoot-Out on the Hill. There were fun prizes for those who had the longest times (essentially, the worse shooters) in both the male and female categories, those who had the best times, and many raffles from merchants around town.
The big winners that evening were the Burbanks from Oregon, “I loved the raffle and couldn’t believe we won so many items (hotel stay, old time photo and restaurant coupon.),” writes Christy of their big win worth $250.
Dutton anticipates the annual event to draw even more people next year; he thanked The 601 Vigilance Committee, Maverick Sand and Gravel Excavation, Virginia City Ventures, the community, and the participants.
So, while The Shoot-Out on the Hill did not bring in $29 million like The Lone Ranger did over the holiday weekend, sitting in a theater and watching a movie does not compare to shooting like a real cowboy.
By Dawn Cranfield
US News Special Correspondent