The sport is not necessarily in the mainstream, but Oakdale’s Colby Qualls is doing his best to open the eyes of the Oakdale community to his particular sport of choice.
Qualls, an eighth grade student at Oakdale Junior High, is a recognizable name all over the country in World Fast Draw Association circles. The 13-year-old has made quite an impact during his brief tenure on the W.F.D.A scene, bringing championship buckles back to Oakdale at an impressive rate.
The sport is arguably the toughest timed sport to gain a successful reputation in, making a one second shot on a target into a miserable failure with no consolation. Qualls has not seen too many disappointing days on the range, however, turning in consistent showings that have the junior high standout in a league of his own.
“Colby has been shooting for a while now,” his grandfather, Dan Qualls, said. “I firmly believe that he could be world champ by the time he reaches his early twenties. If he practices a little more he can do it.
“He’s beating half of them now.”
The sport is something Qualls picked up from his grandfather before most kids were able to play with cap guns and the early beginning has definitely put Colby ahead of the curve in competitive shooting.
Most recently the younger Qualls took the state of Wyoming by storm, running away with the junior championship against 13 competitors at the Medicine Bow Fast Draw Championships there and then finishing ahead of half the field in the adult portion of the competition.
The elder Qualls knows that Colby is leaving an unbelievable trail in the sport already, yet his brightest days in competitive shooting are likely still in front of him.
“I don’t care about the ages when I’m competing,” Colby said of his action against the men. “I just look at them all as competition and take them all the same way.”
Colby has always shown a gift in athletics, winning championships in motocross and playing all the common sports for kids his age, but the way he has dominated on the shooting range has left the youngster gaining a reputation as a sports legend in practically no time at all.
There is no room for doubt when seeing Colby shoot; it is obvious something special to see a recently turned teenager outshine professionals in the sport who have been shooting for decades, yet his skills were not culled overnight. This shooter has spent his time on the range.
“I would have never really predicted he would be this good,” Dan said of Colby’s skills. “But it doesn’t surprise me. He is an all-around good athlete, so he approaches it in that manner.”
In fast draw competitions the rules are as delicate as the nature of the sport. An honor system is heavily relied on and the technique for success must be crafted over years.
Every shooter has their own way of pulling a gun from a side holster, firing a shot at a seemingly miniature target and nailing the target in less than a half second, but one thing is for certain, there is no easy way to accomplish the feat.
During a practice session on the Qualls property in rural Oakdale, Colby put on a fascinating clinic that displayed exactly who is arguably the sport’s brightest young star.
His style, his demeanor and his intelligence around the pistols is years ahead of his time and the speed in which he conducts business may be his most impressive showing.
The standout routinely nailed the target in less than a half-second, putting together competition worthy scores in an unofficial practice session that would leave the average audience member speechless.
With his grandfather providing the guidance, Colby was already being groomed to become a shooter at the tender age of four. In fact, Colby himself can vividly remember the first time he was able to take a shot at the target. That moment nearly 10 years ago may have been a bridge built to World Championship success.
“I can remember being in an Oakdale Sportsmans Club competition,” Colby said. “And there was only one (other) person in the (younger ages) class and they gave out trophies for three places and my grandpa told me I could shoot and get a trophy.
“So I shot then when I was almost four and got a trophy.”
It is difficult to fathom shooting guns at such an early age being “safe,” yet like any sport there has to be proper instruction and strict teaching before any kid can take to the range, much like learning any other game before taking the field.
Unlike other sports, however, dealing and teaching in gun play gives any coach a heavy advantage. No matter the age, all kids know that guns are something serious. There is no margin for error.
“I think that this is totally safe,” Dan Qualls said. “It is a lot safer than bicycle riding or playing football. We have all of our safety rules in effect. There is no gun handling when you are standing behind someone, or until they’re on the line at the proper time.
“I’ve been doing this for quite a few years and I haven’t seen anyone get hurt yet.”
The discipline that it takes to be successful in a sport that measures success in hundredths of a second is unbelievable, but for a young kid growing up in our society it also is priceless.
“Getting discipline is one of, I think, the huge benefits of getting in this sport,” Dan Qualls said. “Colby is actually my assistant range officer with live ammo. If he saw someone doing something careless or reckless he’d be on them quicker than anybody.”
For more information about the World Fast Draw Association, contact Dan Qualls at 847-0483 or email at email@example.com.