Bordertown Match in Tombstone

The movie Tombstone was immensely popular in 1993, which drew people to visit the real city of Tombstone in Arizona. After awhile, when the excitement wore off, the crowds wore thin and the people of Tombstone considered shutting Tombstone down for lack of funds and interest. Luckily, there are still a bunch of us who have an interest in Tombstone and it’s not because we are in love with the movie. It is because we are in love with the sport of Single Action Cowboy Shooting and love the annual match at the Tombstone livery called Bordertown.

The match started on Tuesday, October 22 with Wild Bunch and Plainsman matches, which Steve and I didn’t do. The next day, which just happened to be my birthday, we arrived to register for the match and pick up our “packet” which included a booklet of the schedule of events as well as a description of each stage. We walked behind the range, where the vendors were, and stopped to visit with a few friends before heading out for our hotel. We usually camp out at Tombstone Territories, but this year we had booked a hotel in Tombstone. Unfortunately, our hotel would only accept cash, so we were then on a quest to find another one. After some unsuccessful phone calls and truck stops, we finally landed a room at Comfort Inn and Suites in Sierra Vista. Exhausted after bringing our guns and other paraphernalia up to our room, we went out to dinner and then headed back to the hotel for the night.

The next day was the Bordertown Blast, the practice match. We had some amazing shooters on our posse, such as Mad Kat and her husband, Ray Heartless, and Whirlwind Wendy. I shot clean, but with a procedural (which means out of shooting order). Most of my times ranged in the 30’s but I had one 26.29 second stage, at the end, which encouraged me. Steve had some trouble on the first stage but then shot clean in the 20’s, after that. It was practice, nothing to get all bent out of shape about. The real deal was the next two days, Friday and Saturday.

Since I share a birthday with another lady shooter, Sly Puppy, I was invited (along with my hubby) to join her along with her husband, Jack Rabbit, and friends at the Longhorn Steakhouse in the city of Tombstone, itself. We arrived a little too early, and after a mix up with the hostess, were seated with friends, including Shamrock Sadie, Knot Barely Done, Lou Graham, Wild Sage, Brett Cantrell, and three other cowboys. The food was good, as was the camaraderie, but we were a bit anxious to go “home” and rest up for the next day. Our comfy beds did not disappoint and I fell into a deep sleep.

You need to know that at Bordertown the targets are set up close so that we can shoot crazy fast, safely, but as fast as we possibly can. I am not a super fast shooter but the competitive bug hit me and I threw caution to the wind the second day of the match. I had had a train wreck on stage 4 the first day, but had quite a few times in the 20’s as well, so I was encouraged to speed up, a bit, the next day. My last stage on day 2 was my best. We had two knock down targets for both rifle and pistol before the linear targets. After saying a prayer for accuracy, I said my line, “It’s a pretty day for making things right!” and started to shoot. With newfound confidence, I flew through the stage and when the TO (timer operator), Barbwire, showed me my time, 19.71, I was elated! Even though there was no movement on the stage (we shot in one place) I had shot a 19.71 second stage and felt like a champion! I even beat my husband who usually shoots consistently in the low 20’s. I left feeling like there was a chance for an award.

Something special happened that evening. Two shooters on our posse were getting married at Wyatt Earp’s house and we had been invited. The bride and groom were already having their pictures taken, when we arrived. The bride, Blue Hare, wore a royal blue Civil War gown and a royal blue top hat embellished with flowers. The groom, Grey Hare, wore a black suit with a long-tailed coat, gray brocade vest, and a top hat. The officiant was dressed in a similar suit and his wife was dressed in a lovely, full skirted, pink calico dress. The radiant smiles told the story of their love as we snapped pictures of them, on the porch, in front of the statue of Wyatt Earp, and under the paloverde tree. Other cowboys and cowgirls, Itty Bitty, her hubby, Matt, Barbwire, Zona, Canadian Two Feathers and her husband joined the group. The last guest, Lassiter, arrived and we all went inside the house to start the ceremony.

The officiant started by telling us a history of the couple. He told the miraculous story of how the bride, Angie, had loved Brett, the groom, since elementary school and how, after many years, met each other, again, at a high school reunion. The poignant story was told with humor and love. There was laughter and tears as the bride and groom gave their promises and vows to each other. Although we had just met the day before, Steve and I felt like close friends and were grateful to have been part of this amazing ceremony. Most of us joined the wedding party for dinner in Tombstone and shared emails and telephone numbers before we said goodbye.

It was the day of the shoot-offs and the awards. We decided not to attend the shoot-offs and to sleep in, a bit, before carting all of our “stuff” downstairs and into our truck. After breakfast, at the hotel, we headed to the livery to get settled in the big, white tent where the awards would be presented. It wasn’t long before everyone was in their seats waiting for the winners to be announced. Sitting tensely, I clapped for each winner going forward to receive their award. How would Muley, my husband, and I do? They finally started calling for Elder Statesman. Muley was called up for 6th place! I was so happy for him. The competition is very tough in the men’s categories, so 6th is darn good. Patiently, I waited for them to announce Silver Senior. When they started to announce the winners in my category, I hoped I wouldn’t be last, or even the middle of the pack. I am embarrassed to say that when they announced me as 6th, I was disappointed. Looking back, I was being very ungrateful and am now ashamed that I wasn’t more appreciative of this honor. We were competing with many excellent shooters, many of whom were champions. In that respect, I feel I shot well and am now proud of my achievement.

We hope to participate at the Bordertown match, next year. God willing, we will be back to shoot this fast and fun match and enjoy the company of our pards on and off the range. However, I do not want to take this for granted. We are not promised tomorrow. Our plans can change in a heartbeat. That’s why I say, “I hope” and “God willing” because God’s plans are not always our plans. I am grateful for the opportunity we had to participate in this match and be a part of our friends’ lives. May God continue to bless us as we honor him.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

Published by Sheila Scherlin

I am a retired special needs teacher originally from Massachusetts, now residing in Arizona. My husband and I each have three adult children and many grandchildren and some great grandchildren. My passions are singing, single action cowboy shooting, writing and my faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I have danced and acted, on stage and in competitions, but swim aerobics is the closest I come to dance, at this stage. My husband and I travel back east, every summer, to be with our families. I adore our grandchildren and wish we lived closer to them, year round.

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