Williams wins big in Texas shoot

Friday, October 29, 2010
Heithe Williams and his horse Buck had a good showing at the world championships of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association in Amarillo, Texas.

AMARILLO, TEXAS -- A local cowboy has scored a major accomplishment at the World Championships of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, held Oct. 19-23.

Heithe Williams, a relative newcomer to the sport, won first place in his division, and placed very well in the overall standings, which included competitors with much more experience.

The website www.cowboymountedshooting.com has results from this event, as well as information about the sport. The website includes this description:

Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association is the fastest growing equestrian sport in the nation. Mounted contestants compete in this fast-action timed event using two .45 caliber single-action revolvers, each loaded with five rounds of specially prepared blank ammunition. The CMSA has a variety of levels of competition for everyone, ranging from novice levels to the seasoned professional.

Riders negotiate a course while shooting balloons mounted at different heights on stands. They are scored on time and accuracy. Western attire is required for competitions, either contemporary western, or period attire from the late 1800s.

Williams said he was raised riding horses, and has team-roped for years. "This was a new thing to try with my horse, as well as something that my family can do," he said. "I have always liked western movies and guns, so this was a way for me to have a little fun." 

Williams said he has spent time hunting and target shooting, but this sport utilizes a different skill set. While maneuvering through the course, riders shoot at balloons at a distance of about seven to 15 feet. The hot particles from a black-powder blank round are enough to pop a balloon.

Williams has only been competing about 18 months, and the closest place to ride has been in Clarksville. He said he would like to get some shoots scheduled in Berryville in the coming year. "I think people around here would really enjoy watching," he said.

In addition to shooting pistols, Williams said he enjoys a similar competition with a lever-action rifle.

Williams was asked how he did so well in the overall standings, against seasoned veterans, and like any true cowboy, he gave a lot of credit to his horse.

"My horse is my biggest asset," he said. "Buck and I both jumped into this sport about 18 months ago, and we're learning together along the way." 

Not every horse is cut out for this sport. "A lot of it depends on the temperament of the horse," Williams said. "Some riders use earplugs, which I started using to help Buck with the noise and to protect his hearing."

Williams said the prizes, money, and belt-buckles provide all the motivation he needs to push himself to improve. "I may be ranked lower than some of the pros at this point, being a beginner, but when I go into the arena, I always want to be the best." 

The version of the sport for younger riders does not involve shooting from horseback. Williams' nine-year-old son Haydon competes in the Wrangler division, for kids 12 and under. They run through the same patterns as the adults, training for the time when they can compete with the grown-ups.

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