Memory Lane . . .  The Wild Wild West, a time of days gone by .  .  . 

Or . . . . .  Have they?

~ Welcome to ~  

"There was a trouble brewing in them thar hills " . . .


. . . while a small gang of old cowboys were hiding out in Central Oregon, minding their own business, when they were suddenly approached by a wily and unusual old cuss that went by the name of Dr. Holm Neumann aka "Doc Sawbones" SASS # 181 (now that's a low number!) Doc had taken a liking to a sport called Cowboy Action Shootin in it's pioneer days, but now he was after some "local" shootin companions. Doc did his damndest for weeks to wrangle them in. Finally, he roped in Jerry and then Don Emerson, Mike Walsh and Rick Burton soon followed. God only knows what possessed these men to go over the mountain to that Albany club that weekend and see what all the ruckus was about . . . in something called "Cowboy Action Shootin"? Never did they realize they would be cast under a spell they would never escape from, cause when these ole cowpokes returned, they were a done deal! They had been caught, hook, line and sinker, as they had "become" - Cowboy Action Shooters - for life!

. . . . and so goes the story told around the campfires of the earliest days of a shooting club in Central Oregon, better known today as the HorseRidge Pistoleros. Everyone has their own reason why they are so drawn to this sport. For some, it's the love of the Old West, for others, it's the reminiscing of childhood fantasies as they watched their favorite cowboy action star in early television or movies. But who, from time to time, does not wish for a simpler time?

Still, for many of our younger members, it's the thrill of competition! Whatever the draw is, as those cowpokes soon realized, once your hooked, it's nearly impossible to break its spell.

But wait, that's only the beginning. Here goes the rest of the tale . .

Next came guns, costumes, and SASS aliases. Guns came easy, as Koch quickly inventoried them at his local gun store, through finds at gun shows, dealers and shoots.

Costumes:

Dressing the part of the 1860's period is a SASS requirement and very important to these shooters, but back then, rather difficult to assemble. Once you did your homework in researching your alias and "look", you didn't just go shopping, as we do now. One had to be imaginative with what they had in their closet or became more than excited with a great find at a local thrift shop. (Will we ever forget the "red sash" days or Big Mama's feathers?) But through their creativity, many of our members have since won several costume contests at shooting and gun show events. (later, family members that were not shooters found a niche in one of the several venues by either "dressing the era" at club events, becoming a member and obtaining an alias, or simply helping out with club functions.)

Aliases:

Jerry Koch became Texas Jack Morales, Don Emerson became Big Casino, Mike Walsh became Poke and Rick Burton became Stoney Lonesome, although Rick has changed his alias a few times since.

These cowboy shooters attracted a few more local shooters wanting to "live the old west", and continued to attend matches throughout the State of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California, and at major SASS matches throughout the country. For the first couple of years these cowboys and soon, cowgirls, were simply having fun, honing their skills, and making a name for themselves throughout SASS. They were winning categories, coming home with ribbons and awards, and letting other SASS Cowboys know that they were a band of pistoleros not to be reckoned with. Still, they were a club without a name or a home of their own.

Then, through the support of another member of their gang, Tumbleweed Thom, they laid out plans for the formation of a local club. Tumbleweed Thom has been very instrumental in "starting" cowboy action shooting in the Northwest and founded the Tri- County Gun Club in Sherwood, Oregon.

It's OFFICIAL! . . .

March 1, 1995, this gang of cowboy action shooters Officially formed the "Horse Ridge Pistoleros". Membership rules and numbered badges were designed and assigned, and monthly club meetings and matches had begun!

The first 12 Charter Life members of HRP are:

  1. Jerry "Texas Jack Morales" Koch
  2. Don "Big Casino" Emerson
  3. Pat "Big Mama" Popplewell
  4. Gary "Popps" Popplewell
  5. Mike "Poke" Walsh
  6. Holm "Doc Sawbones" Neumann
  7. Todd "Cheatin' Irish Will" Butler
  8. Allen "Slim" Baldwin
  9. Pete "Palaver Pete" Pedone
  10. Perry "Empty Chambers" Adlrich
  11. Barbara "Shotgun Annie" Aldrich
  12. Brent "Columbus D. Shannon" Maddox  

They sent the word out that they had a club and were putting on a match. At their very first HorseRidge Pistoleros match, April of 1995, there were 22 shooters! I remember helping Texas Jack design the "challenge" to other NW clubs and then made Lasagna for the feed afterwards - and it was cold! This match was a private shoot in the snow covered hills of Sisters on private land owned by Doc Sawbones. Doc and his lovely wife Susan, generously hosted several events for the shooters in those early days including feeds and Holiday parties.

In no time flat there were over 40 HRP members and cowboy action shooters. (The present-day club membership has gained a few hundred members throughout many states.)

Soon following was our "SASS" club membership. As stated by Palaver Pete SASS # 4375, "A bunch of mean cusses, known as the HorseRidge Pistoleros, are forming a SASS Chapter in Central Oregon . . .". and the addition of our SASS Club affiliation was formally announced in the June 1995 SASS Cowboy Chronicle.

This announcement helped support awareness of our club to other SASS clubs and members, but that wasn't nearly enough. Their work had only just begun. We needed more local people to become aware of HRP and join our club. And so they began promoting HRP locally.

The Pistoleros made an awesome impression at the Sister's Rodeo Parade in June of 95, and won a 1st Place Plaque saying so. Everyone was gussied up in their Old West costumes, on a wagon train provided by Texas Jack's business "Guntraders", and played the part of Old West Pioneers and Cowboys. Later, the gang headed for a steak feed and spirits at Doc's ranch in Sisters.

Reenactments of an Old West Shoot-out was a favorite method to promote the club and included gun safety tips by Poke and Big Casino. These were always fun events that drew a big crowd of spectators and media. We also joined in local Parades and for years had an HRP booth at the Deschutes County fair. Members were eager to volunteer in promoting HRP.

Not long after they became the HorseRidge Pistoleros, they met up with the men forming the new C.O.S.S.A. Range. Members got busy with HRP club construction at their new "home" of the HorseRidge Pistoleros, located in Millican, Oregon. 

The Pistoleros hosted their first HRP match at C.O.S.S.A. in November of 1995. The HorseRidge Pistoleros have remained a part of the C.O.S.S.A. family ever since. Our annual events have generated the highest single revenue source from a COSSA club many times throughout the years.

But let's not forget those early days when ole Blue Duck died a thousand deaths. Or when Shorty was rescued from a hangin before you ran down the hangman's gallows to gun down his lynch squad. Maybe a shave and cut was rudely interrupted by a band of loathsome outlaws shooting up yer town.

And who could ever forget Lori Darling, lovingly remembered from the Lonesome Dove mini-series, and rescued in several HRP stage scenarios? The antics of throwing tomahawks, stabbing villains, riding horses, crawling in and out of props, etc., etc., were written into dozens of stages, and remained in the fond memories of those shooting participants.

Among the club duties, Big Casino and Texas Jack Morales could be depended upon to design and set-up stages, conduct meetings, teach new shooters safety and SASS rules, and attract new members. Scoring was done by hand by Big Mama, while Big Mama also kept us well stocked with prizes by her scouting efforts around Central Oregon.

Whatever the club needed, she was always there to lend a big helping hand. Columbus D Shannon rode the wave of being labeled a "gamer" before gamers was the goal of all competitive shooters, simply by figuring out a better way to shave a few seconds off his time. When Columbus D spoke, everyone listened!

Palaver Pete edited articles to the SASS Chronicle and COSSA, and everyone joined in to help and enjoy playing in the spirit of the Old West for a day. Ribbons were passed out to the category and overall winners, and prizes were won for various feats, including a Booby prize.

As you can see, we've gone from raw land and sagebrush to berms and town props. We've watched our members bless us with their participation and friendship. Some are still actively involved while others have moved on. The babies that were crawling in the dirt at the range are now shooting with us (as seen here with Last Chance Morales, at age 3, a future Pistolero).

The teens that were shooting along side us then, are now serving our country and raising families of their own. Cactus Bud, we are very proud of, serving in the Air Force, returned from  Korea, married and recently a new father.) We have seen stage scenarios and the tools of the trade change over the years with action jobs, short strokes, even loading ammo has become a precise science, the list goes on and on.

Our club has grown in membership and SASS participation, and remains one of the oldest SASS affiliated clubs in the Northwest. We have hosted either alone, or with other Oregon Cowboy Action Shooting clubs, the Oregon State Championship years 1997 and 1999, and the first Northwest Championship in 1998 . We did so "unofficially", until SASS incorporated these matches into their "SASS Sanctioned" matches.

HRP continues to Lead the way in Central Oregon with SASS and
Cowboy Action Shooting Fun!

HRP hosted,  “officially” the SASS Oregon State Championships in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

HRP hosts the SASS Oregon State Wild Bunch Championships in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Then SASS granted us the “The Great SASS North West Regional” for years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

After 6 years of Official SASS Sanctioned State and Regional Matches, HRP members voted to discontinue hosting these matches. Our members needed a break from these massive events and wished to focus more on our efforts at home.

In 2008, we doubled our monthly shoots to twice a month. We also started shooting and promoting the new SASS Wild Bunch category. Then, in 2008 we resurrected the SASS Governor's Cup into our annual July match! We currently host "Shootout at HorseRidge and the SASS Governor's Cup" Annually!

In 2008, HRP started training its interested members in the new Wild Bunch category, then started holding quarterly Wild Bunch Monthly matches. The addition of a 1911 and "stuffing" the shotgun has created a frenzy of excitement to young and more serasoned shooters alike! We increased Wild Bunch matches to monthly throughout the summer, and into 2009.

With the consent of SASS again, in 2009 HRP established the first SASS NW Wild Bunch Championship, and again has taken a lead in promoting this new championship match for SASS. We hope to become the SASS Wild Bunch NW “Regional” hosts when SASS makes "official" this new shooting championship.

HRP now holds 3 monthly shoots for 9 months, with 2 monthly matches throughout the year, (weather permitting). HRP also hosts 3 Annual Matches, 2 of which are *SASS Championship matches;

  • Shootout at HorseRidge and the SASS Governor's Cup
  • The Great SASS NW Wild Bunch Championship
  • The Annual Indian and Old Time Shoot

With well over 600 SASS clubs WorldWide, HRP has hosted SASS recognized or sanctioned annual matches 13 out of 14 years. Very, very few SASS clubs have this record of distinction.

2009 - The SASS Wild Bunch "nominated HRP" and unanimously voted the Horse Ridge Pistoleros the SASS CLUB of the YEAR! This is an incredible statement of recognition and a deep honor!

Active HRP Members:

Many of our current active HRP members have always been highly visible and supportive at SASS State, Regional, National and World Championships and many have attended the SASS Convention. Our Territorial Governor, Texas Jack Morales, is one of the original Summit TG's in SASS (there are only 9 left from that group). His advise is instrumental in the writing of the SASS Shooters Handbook, and the new Wild Bunch Shooters Handbook. He has earned the respect of the SASS Wild Bunch, and many of the other TG's.

More than a couple of HRP members have also become SASS World Champions, and highly promote SASS and HRP.

At the 2009 State Championship, our very own 15 year old Junior shooter, Last Chance Morales, became the SASS Oregon State Men's Champion. This is the first time in SASS history a junior has won this title in Oregon.  Last Chance Morales is also a SASS Wild Bunch Team World Champion, in both 2008 and 2009, along with HRP members Texas Jack Morales and Mojave Mick in 2008. We hope this will help to create more of a draw for Junior shooters into SASS and hopefully at our home club and range.

 

the nemisis "Doc Sawbones"

later on, Sober & Cleaned up

Donny aka "Big Casino"

Jerry aka "Texas Jack Morales"

and Mike aka "Poke"

Sisters Parade June 1995

Pistoleros New Home - C.O.S.S.A. Range

 

Tumbleweed Thom, Big Mama, L.C. Let'er Buck Hale & Prairie Rose

 

HRP Club Promo 2001

And on to the "NEW" Junior Members:

"Dirt Ranger" 2007

"Kissable Kim with Mom
"Wildcat Annie"

Shooting at the Idaho State Championship 2007

"Last Chance Morales" 2008
Oregon State Junior Champion

Hard work and practice does pay off!
Our newest State and Regional SASS Champion for 2007 and 2008
Classic Cowboy "Sunrise Bill"

Throughout the years our club members have worked hard and wisely to maintain a successful club. This ensures our members continued years of cowboy action shooting fun, for all.

 

~~   MEMORY LANE  ~~

Be sure and ask to see one of our volumes of HRP Photo Albums of parties, events, and plain old silly fun that we were able to sneak shots of over the past 15+ years!  Your picture could be next!

SASS World Championship "End of Trail" - 1996

Big Casino, Slaughter John, Judge Roy Bean, Texas Jack, Hickory and Tumbleweed Thom (kneeling)

2007 "SHOOTOUT at HORSERIDGE"       Helltown Stage

2007  Top "Master Gunfighter"  Shooters . . .

2007 Oregon State SASS Champions from HRP!

Mojave Mick, Texas Jack Morales, Last Chance Morales, Big Casino and Palaver Pete

2008 Oregon State Champions from HRP

1st Place: Senior, Ladies Modern, Junior, Classic Cowboy, Duelist, 49er


Merry Christmas 2008 from the Horse Ridge Pistoleros!

 

2009 adds a new Annual Match for the
HorseRidge Pistoleros and COSSA!

After HRP members Mojave Mick, Texas Jack Morales and Last Chance Morales won the 2008 World Championship Wild Bunch Team, our club decided to take this exciting new SASS category to a new level in SASS. It's popularity, spreading like a prarie fire throughout the country, is as addictive as it is fun! In 2009 the Horse Ridge Pistoleros announce their new Annual Match -

We had phenominal sponsor support, beautiful gold and silver trophybuckels, and the shooters had a really great time. This match is a keeper!

 


June 2009 the SASS Wild Bunch present 2   more HorseRidge Pistoleros
with the coveted rank of SASS Regulator:

Leggs Balou #10400   ~   Sunrise Bill #64301

They share this rare honor with fellow HRP members Texas Jack Morales and Big Casino.


Congratulations HRP members at the Oregon State Championship 2009!

Texas Jack Morales, Leggs Balou, Mojave Mick, Last Chance Morales, Big Casino, Renegade Red Squirrel, Sunrise Bill, Doc Valentine (not in pic)


The new SASS 2009  Oregon State Overall Male and Female Champions:


Buckshot Shell-E and our very own Last Chance Morales!

HRP is making a bit of SASS history again, as this is the first time that a Junior shooter won the SASS Men's State Champion title for Oregon!


We now offer 3 Annual shoots, 24+ Cowboy Action/Wild Bunch monthly shoots. But throughout the years and the growing pains of HRP, the original concept has never been forgotten or destroyed . . . .

"We are Cowboy Action SASS shooters, we Love the Old West, and thoroughly enjoy our efforts in maintaining our club which respects all aspects of it's 1860's heritage! All while we are having too much fun playing at Cowboy Action Shooting"!


 

I hope you have enjoyed this visit back in time with the HorseRidge Pistoleros. I sure enjoyed creating it and the reminiscence of simpler days gone by . . .

Blessings to y'all,

Leggs Balou    

SASS Regulator #10400
HRP #69   

 

Leggs Balou with husband Texas Jack Morales

 

 

 

 

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