John Wayne’s character JB Books
in “The Shootist” knew he was dying. He knew walking into that saloon on his
birthday could cost him his life, but the whiskey called and so did the desire
not to die of cancer. So, he strutted in with his signature walk, saw his
enemies sitting at tables throughout the saloon, and sidled up to the bar.
Glen McEntire walks into the
Edmond coffee shop like John Wayne, grins through his white, trimmed beard and
immediately starts talking guns.
Now a retired police
officer, he spent 22 years teaching thousands of law enforcement officers the
accuracy and safety of firearms. McEntire is one of the most accurate, strict
and knowledgeable gun men in the state.
It’s no wonder heroes of the Old
West like John Wayne and the guns they used appeal to him. Shooting
single-action pistols from the turn of the century is a challenge. McEntire
founded Cowboy Action Shooting, which, in his own words, is a whole bunch of
grown men dressing up and acting like 11-year-olds. He recalls, “Years
ago, Edmond’s Police Range Master Joe Evans came to me and said, ‘Hey, let’s do
some cowboy stuff.’ I said sure.”
Already experts in modern
firearms, the lure of the Western gunslingers shot off. The two started
planning scenarios that gunfighters in the Old West would have faced, and in
the early 1990s, they started shooting as cowboys. “We had a saddle that we put
over a ladder, and that was our horse,” McEntire said. “But our hobby evolved.
We picked up more people and had eight people at our first match in 1990.”
JB Books can feel the outlaws’
eyes boring into his back. At the far table, the “gambler” keeps his cool,
watching the situation play out. Books calls the bartender over. “I want a shot
of whiskey on the house. It’s my birthday.” He then turns to his enemies and
lifts the shot glass in a toast.
McEntire’s Cowboy Action
Shooting Group now has an average of 30 members. Unlike other Single Action
Shooting clubs, only those who are experts are part of CAS. The other clubs
allow enthusiasts from beginners to experts to join, but CAS only chooses those
who are well-trained in firearm safety. New members have to be sponsored by a
current member who stands by every time the provisional member shoots.
“Our matches usually have ten scenarios in
three types of matches—one we make up, one based on a historical battle and one
from Hollywood,” McEntire said. “For instance, for one we make up, we set up 35
to 40 steel targets and draw cards for teams of two. Then, each team climbs a
tower that we call Fort Apache and when the buzzer sounds, they have to shoot
down all the targets. The team with the best time wins.”
One of the historical scenarios
is based on Wyatt Earp.
As deputy U.S. marshal in
Tombstone, Earp once shot a man through the heart from 75 yards. The CAS places
a man-sized steel silhouette at 75 yards with a red balloon representing the
heart, and competitors have to shoot the balloon.
All chaos breaks loose in the
saloon. The outlaw sitting at the middle table right behind Books leaps up,
knocks the table over as a shield and starts shooting. Books gets hit, but he
jumps over the bar and starts shooting back, killing the man with a bullet that
tears through the flimsy table. The second outlaw pulls his
guns, but Books puts him down easily. The gambler, however, has a different
strategy in mind…
The budding CAS initially held
matches at the Edmond Police Department shooting range, but one of the members
offered his land in Pink, Oklahoma, as a site. Thus “The Pink Gang” was born.
Members are mostly retired from law enforcement, but members also include
current officers, one attorney and a machinist. They all shoot under monikers
like “GW” or “Rowdy” or “Wagonburner” or “Sergeant Major Gunny Buckshot.” They
also incorporate period guns.
These days, CAS holds matches
eight times a year at McEntire’s new training center in Guthrie, The North
American Shooting Academy. When not hosting tournaments, McEntire takes his
career’s worth of firearms training and hosts a public shooting academy that
offers classes ranging from beginning firearms to a 40-hour rifle school.
The gambler crawls along the bar
to surprise Books on the other side. Books, crouched and injured behind the
bar, looks up longingly at his empty glass of whiskey on the bar and sees the
reflection of the gambler. Books takes aim. The gambler pops his head around to
take that fatal shot, and Books shoots him dead.
“That Hollywood scenario is one of my
favorites,” McEntire said. “We set it up just like in the movie…except, we take
a shot of tea instead of whiskey and none of us jump over the bar. We’re just
too old for that.”
For more information on CAS or
on the North American Shooting Academy, call McEntire at 405-315-0764.