Most of us, of a certain age, grew up watching Westerns, like Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Wyatt Earp, and Clint Eastwood Westerns. Maybe, you were even a fan of the cartoon Quick Draw McGraw! While growing up, Broadway resident Brad Turner was also a fan of these movies and stories of the Old West. He took it a step further. He became one of those people he watched in the movies, following his passion by becoming a fast draw expert, traveling the country doing demonstrations.
Several months ago, during a Customer Appreciation Day, the Rockingham Cooperative in Timberville hosted a Fast Draw demonstration. Customers were able to watch and participate, to try their hand at seeing how quick they were at drawing a pistol and hitting the target!
For someone who is trained to shoot a firearm, this is a whole different style of shooting.
Participants were outfitted by the members, who showed them how to shoot the pistol, which was loaded with wax bullets. The guns had to be loaded by the official members for each shot. Each player, after a couple of practice runs, was able to shoot along side of the experts, in a timed target practice. Fast equaled, in some cases, a fraction of a second, from draw to hitting the metal target. Each Fast Draw member has their own style of shooting, wearing 1800s style Old West attire, and having a name to go along with their character.
We interviewed Broadway resident, Brad Turner, known as “Gun Doc”, about this group and how he got involved.
Here is his story, in his own words.
“ I was born and raised in Broadway. In June of 2012, I moved to Colorado to go to gunsmith school for 15 months. After that I moved back here to Broadway. I have always been a gun enthusiast and student of firearms and their history, especially western firearms. I have always appreciated the progression of their designs and functions from early black powder guns to the technical marvels that we have today.
I have always been interested in fast draw since I watched my first western on tv. I went to my first Try Cowboy Fast Draw event at Taylors in the spring of 2017 and I have been hooked ever since. I have been a member of the Cowboy Fast Draw Association since October of 2017. I am a member of the Grandview Gunslingers Fast Draw Club in Bedford, VA ( my home club) and the Virginia Peacemakers Fast Draw Club in Amelia Court House and have been since October of 2017 as well. I have been working at Taylors and Company Firearms since February of 2020.”
Taylors and Company Firearms deals in historical reproduction guns as well as modern day firearms. According to their website, they carry hand guns, black powder revolvers, cartridge rifles, long guns, cartridge revolvers, and 1873 single actions.
Brad continued “My job is not directly involved with the clubs, but it does allow me to help other members acquire the tools they need to compete in this sport, along with meeting new people that are in the association that I have never met. Taylors have always been generous in donating to our State and territorial championships, and allowing us to come and put on a “Try Cowboy Fast Draw” event every year at their open house. This allows us to promote our sport and share it with everyone.
The Cowboy Fast Draw Association was established in 2002 in Deadwood, South Dakota. It was purchased a few years later by our current Executive Director Cal Elrich AKA “Quick Cal” and the Association was moved and headquartered in Fernley, Nevada. The east coast, primarily Virginia, was introduced to the sport around 2008, and we have been rapidly expanding ever since.
When you join the CFDA, you have to choose your own alias or shooting name. You cannot use your real name. Many gunfighters and cowboys from the 1800’s had aliases, we do the same today. Mine is “Gun Doc” because I am a certified gunsmith and gun aficionado. The other members at the event are as follows:
Kenneth Hurt – “Shenandoah”
Linda Hurt – ” Miss Shotwell”
Tim Duncan – ” Spanky”
Linda Duncan – ” Billie Sioux”
Charlie Boswell – “Cheyenne Shooter”
Scott Malone – “Big Ugly”
Chico Georgeopolas – “Brothel Bouncer”
Tom Schnurman – “Charles City Kid”
Joanne Schnurman – “Maggie Jo”
Everyone who participates comes up with their own alias, you just can’t have one that is already taken by a current member. Everyone also has their own style of shooting or shooting stance. On the line you have to stand in “lawman” ready position, this means your toe is on the line, hand on the gun and thumb on the hammer. You can stand any way you like that is comfortable to you. Some will copy how other shooters stand at first, then will eventually change to what works for them, as long as it is considered safe and stays within their 5ft shooter’s box.
We shoot real guns in our sport. We have a list of approved guns that we are allowed to shoot. It must be a single action revolver, it has to be cocked in order to rotate the cylinder and be fired. It can be either a Colt 1873, Ruger Vaquero, or any approved Italian Colt Clone. It must be chambered in 45 Long Colt. The shortest barrel length allowed is 4.75″ up to 7.5″. The gun cannot be modified in any way. The only thing you can do is an action job. This means the springs have been lightened, interior parts have been polished, and the trigger is nice and crisp. We cannot have a gun that has been short stroked, meaning that the hammer only comes back partially to cock the gun. It also cannot have a lowered or wider hammer as well. We shoot wax bullets for all of our matches. During a monthly match or practice, we load up modified cartridges that can take a 209 primer. When the wax bullet is pressed in the casing 3/8″, it will have a velocity of 700-750 feet per second. For a state match or any other sanctioned match, we used 3.2 grains of Triple 7 black powder and a large pistol primer. The bullet will still travel the same velocity but with smoke for effect.
We have clubs in many states in the U.S. In most states we have multiple clubs. We also have clubs in other countries as well such as: Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and France.
My best time is at .304 seconds. This is timed by a sensor and I am reacting to a light. When on the line commands are given before we shoot. The range master will say “The line is ready.” This means that the shooters are ready to shoot and in position. The announcer will the give the command, “shooters on the line, shooters set.” When the SET command has been given, the shooter cannot move until the light comes on. When it does come on the timer will start, and then stop if you hit the target. The .304 seconds is the time it takes for me to realize that the light is on, then draw, cock, fire the gun, and hit the target. If you do not hit the target, you do not get a time. You must have 3 winning shots to win the round. In our group, Kopperhead Kidd holds the current world record for speed with a time of .281.
Both Billie Sioux and Miss Shotwell have won title championships. Billie Sioux has won the Kentucky State and Virginia State Ladies Championship multiple times. She is the 2019 Eastern Territorial Ladies Champion, and in 2019 she placed 2nd in the world. Miss Shotwell is the 2019 Florida State Ladies champion and placed 6th in the world in 2016.
Sometimes when we go to events, we will set up a “Try Cowboy Fast Draw” event to allow spectators to try our sport and see if they would like to try it. Sometimes we will just show up and give out information. Spectators are always welcome at any of our events to watch and enjoy the show.
I travel to 2 local matches every month, one in Bedford and the other in Amelia Court House. I will also attend the Virginia State Championship every year along with at least 2 other matches out of State, Kentucky, Florida or the World Championship in Fallon Nevada. “
At the recent demonstration in Timberville, we watched a seasoned police officer try his hand at fast draw. After a few practice draws, his time was decent, when he shot alongside the members, including Brad, AKA Gun Doc. The officer did admit it is a whole different way of shooting than he was trained in and takes some getting used to. But, it was fun!
Fast Draw has been seen on The History Channel and The Outdoor Channel. They put out a newspaper, Gunslinger’s Gazette. To learn more about CDFA, find out where their next demonstration will be, or become a member, check out www.cowboyfastdraw.com or www.grandviewgunslingers.com
See Cowboy Fast Draw Society on Facebook