Part of the nationwide Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, the New Mexico Bandoleros hosted its State Shoot event on August 16 to August 18 at the Socorro Rodeo Complex. A total of 40 registered members of all ages from around the southwest region came out for the event which included a Friday night clinic with Dan Byrd and a Saturday evening potluck after main competition.
Armed with two Colts 45 pistols loaded with black powder blanks, riders made their way around the course attempting to hit a total of ten balloons. Local members of the 4-H program were on hand setting up balloons for competitors.
Cathy Maynard made one of the longer trips among competitors. She lives on a ranch in Arizona, south of Tucson. She has been involved with CMSA for just over four years.
“I’ve been here several times now,” she said. “We love this complex. It’s clean, convenient, good RV spots and bottom line it’s just beautiful. You couldn’t ask for a nicer arena. I’ve been involved with horses all my life and decided one day to try out mounted shooting. It’s very addictive and a good challenge.”
A bit of a shorter trip, David Johnson came down south from Moriarty to compete with his horse Dakota, who is a 17 year old American Spotted breed. Johnson became involved six years ago after attending a shootout. He is currently a Senior Men’s 3 level and former CMSA Vice-President. He was part of the New Mexico Territory competition which was the first mounted shooting event to take place at the Socorro arena.
“I told my wife I think I want to do this,” he said. “It was new and exciting. This is the only sport I have ever been in where there’s no judgment anywhere. Its just you, the horse and the timer. I always tell people thinking about doing this that its a lot of fun. If you know how to ride a horse and aren’t afraid of guns then this is for you. But it is a lot harder than it looks.”
One of the top competitors in the group is also one of its youngest. Also from Moriarty, Trenton Romero is just 17 years old and has been riding since the age of five with his mother Ta-Willow and younger brother Tuff, both of which also competed. He brought along his horse Tucker to fly trough the course.
“This is not like any other sport,” he said. “Once the adrenaline hits you out there it’s a lot of fun. There isn’t much else I enjoy doing more than being out here. So far I haven’t done spectacular today but hopefully each run I can get better.”
“One thing about shooting is that it’s something you can’t really master,” Ta-Willow added. “You’re never going to be able to perfect it. There are so many elements from riding to shooting to horsemanship. You have to be able to put it all together every day in order to be consistent. This is a very humbling sport.”
After main competition, two rounds of Rifle and Shotgun mounted shooting took place on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday for those still available. Super Senior Incentive, 3-D’s and Clean Shooter were special categories for riders to help increase their winnings. Main competition winners received a straight circuit payback of 55 percent.
The next regional CMSA event is scheduled for August 24 in Estes Park, Colorado. Socorro will welcome back the group on September 14 for the New Mexico vs. Colorado Chili Challenge, which is a friendly state line showdown after Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared their chili to be more popular than New Mexico’s.