Cowboy cosplayers recreate the Wild West, compete with vintage guns


RENTON, Wash. : Passers-by at the Renton Fish and Game Club in Washington state on Saturday could be forgiven for thinking they had time-traveled to the late-1800s Wild West.

The annual Cowboy Action Shooting competition was taking place at the venue about half an hour from Seattle, and competitors were dressed up for the part, using vintage firearms. The club is part of the global Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) which regulates the sport and requires every member to have a cowboy nickname.

Weapons used must be authentic, such as single-action revolvers, pistol caliber lever action rifles, and old-time shotguns, said Mike Perin, alias ‘Mudflat Mike,’ a retired police officer who has been traveling worldwide to such events with his wife for 32 years.

“If you want to use a pump shotgun it has to be an 1897 Winchester or a copy thereof,” he said.

The contest requires attention to detail, speed, and accuracy.

Contestant Roberta ‘Double Tap’ Ernest, a 2022 SASS End of Trail Cowboy Action World Champion, travels across the country for the sport.

“I’m an extrovert and like to be around other people, to dress up kind of goofy and not be laughed at because we’re all doing the same thing,” she said.

But the sport may die off as enthusiasts inspired by old Western films get older, said Perin, whose favorite film is “True Grit” starring John Wayne. “The younger folks don’t really want to watch cowboy movies anymore.”

Ten-year-old Braxton Puryear lamented being the youngest competitor.

“Sometimes I’m kind of bored because there’s no people, like in my category to go against,” he said. “Because I always win. Because I’m the only one.”



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