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Fastest Guns In The West Meet, Compete In Oakdale
Draw 2
Several women, many of them in period dress, competed in the 2018 Fast Draw Championship for the three day event this past weekend. - photo by Virginia Still/The Leader

The cowboys were out with their six shooters, holsters and hats this past weekend, showing their skills at the 2018 California State Cowboy Fast Draw Championship. The three-day competition held at the Oakdale Sportsmen’s Club was attended by over 100 contestants, competing in three groups including men’s, ladies, and juniors.

The President of the Cowboys, Gene Dias expressed that the competition went very well. It featured competitors from several states across the country. The Cowboy Fast Draw Association CEO/Director Cal Eilrich, also known as Quick Cal, agreed with Dias, sharing that they are a nationwide sport with 80 clubs coast to coast and in seven different countries.

The local ‘Cowboys’ shoot monthly at the Sportsmen’s Club and anyone interested is welcome to stop in.

Quick Cal began the sport of fast draw when he was a teenager and went on to several other shooting sports, receiving many titles and awards for the United States Pistol team as well as winning a gold medal for the World Shoot in Australia.

“Fast draw has always been my first love because everyone dresses western,” stated Cal. “We all have an alias we shoot under. It just becomes a big family.”

At the competition all the contestants use six shooters in a 45 caliber; however, there is no live ammunition. They all use a specially made wax bullet that still moves at about 700 feet per second. They all take that responsibility very seriously and never point firearms at each other.

“One of our main goals is to educate as many people as possible in the safe and proper use of firearms,” added Cal. “The kids that get into shooting sports learn discipline, safety, they learn interaction with adults; it really is a good sport to get a family into. You don’t see any spoiled brats running around here. This is an ageless sport. Once you have built your reaction that carries into this sport. It is a conditioned reflex which never diminishes with age. This is important to understand there are guys here in their 60’s and 70’s and the 20- and 30-year-olds cannot keep up with them.”

By the luck of the draw is the way in which each shooter is matched up against another where they will shoot at a 17 inch plate from 15 feet and the wax bullet must hit the target. The key is to be fast but more importantly to be accurate. Time stops when the bullet hits the target. The winner of the round will progress to the next round and the loser will receive an X. When a shooter receives four Xs they are eliminated from the competition. There is one timer operator and one range master for each contest.

“I can tell you if your aim is off just one degree you are going to miss it,” explained Cal. “These people react to a light draw and fire and hit that target under a half of a second. The top guns can shoot under four-tenths of a second. In the Old West, Wyatt Earp’s most famous saying was ‘fast is fine, accuracy is final’.”

There were well over 5000 rounds shot at the competition. Several people in attendance wore western attire, getting into the full experience of the shooting contest.

“Firearms have been in this world about 400 to 500 years. Was the world a less violent place before the invention of the firearm?” Cal asked. “I think not. Those days anybody that was bigger and stronger could take what they wanted from anybody. A gun was an equalizer. They teach kids everything else in school, why don’t they teach them about gun safety because they are a part and will always be a part of our society.”