February 21, 1936 – January 9, 2021
The Cowboy Action Shooting Community lost a dedicated member this winter. Lobo Joe, one of the founding members of the Rocky Mountain Rangers, passed away January 9, 2021. Lobo created a memorable legacy with the members of our club, and the lessons he taught are still relevant today.
When Lobo had the opportunity to become one of the founding members of the Rocky Mountain Rangers, he jumped at the chance. Lobo and a few other Cowboy Action enthusiasts started RMR from the ground up in the early 2000’s. Although other founding members had various experiences with CAS, it was Lobo who took the role of club mentor and teacher. As a RO1 and RO2 instructor, he felt it was important for our club members to become trained range officers. He guided our original membership into the Cowboy Action Shooting world and always insisted that RMR shoots be run in such a way that anyone could go to any larger shoot and feel right at home. Lobo also established the first club website, helped build our several ranges, and served as RMR’s original Territorial Governor for many years.
Lobo Joe, AKA Joe Abrams, was born in Miami, Florida February 21, 1936, and he spent the next 84 years living an event-filled and sometimes exciting life. He served two tours in Vietnam and was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service for action above and beyond normal duties. His twenty-one years in the Air Force gave him the opportunity to meet his wife of fifty-four years, Pat (AKA Miss Hattie Wild). After his retirement from the military, he served as a State of Alaska Fish/Wildlife trooper flying throughout the bush in the pursuit of justice. Retirement from Alaska brought Lobo and Miss Hattie to Trout Creek, Montana. It was when traveling as snowbirds in Arizona, Lobo was introduced to Cowboy Action Shooting.
Lobo Joe took to CAS like a duck takes to water, and he took Pat swimming with him. He and Miss Hattie Wild originally were active with the Panhandle Regulators in Northern Idaho. Within the next few years, Lobo became a life member of SASS and the Territorial Governor for the Panhandle Regulators. He and Hattie started attending matches all over the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, Utah (Senior Olympics), and Wyoming. Lobo Joe also assisted at End of Trail in Texas during the winter. He was active in the Idaho club and was co-match director when the NW Regional was held there during the Great Northern annual matches. It was during this time that the Rocky Mountain rangers formed in Montana. As snowbirds, Lobo and Hattie belonged to several clubs in Arizona and sometimes were shooting every weekend around the state. He eventually became involved with Winter Range, the National SASS Championship. Lobo taught the RO I & II classes, helped set up the range, found a better steel for the targets, and was assistant Range Master then Range Master. He was a stickler for the safety of the shooters and often had to intervene in disputes regarding the rules and regulations. After many years of service to SASS, Lobo Joe was named a Regulator.
In 2015, the Abrams relocated permanently to Nevada then Arizona. He and Pat enjoyed the warmth and sun of the Southwest. Although Lobo still enjoyed the sport, he no longer felt safe moving while carrying loaded firearms. Therefore, he retired from an active shooting role. Unfortunately, in November 2020, while house hunting in Pahrump, Nevada, Lobo suffered a stroke. While in a post-acute rehabilitation facility, he was exposed to the COVID-19 virus and succumbed to pneumonia on January 9, 2021.
Although Lobo Joe may be gone, he is certainly not forgotten. Thank you for all you did, Lobo.
Co-written by Miss Hattie Wild and Fire Opal
Note: At a shoot this summer, Lobo's contributions to RMR will be recognized.
The 2021 Montana State Shoot proved to be remarkable in many ways. Including Montana, twelve states were represented at the shoot. This shoot had the most shooters participating since the state shoot was located at the Black Horse Range in Great Falls. Although this was not the hottest state shoot held on the third weekend of July, it certainly ranked up there with those among the hottest weather wise.
Eight current RMR members and many RMR friends participated in this year’s shoot. Representing RMR were Graydog, Jake the Snake, Doc Rog, Chiparoo, Duke West, Fire Opal, Marshal D.J., and Jocko. The competition was fierce this year with many out-of-state shooters taking home the coveted Montana plaques. However notable among RMR achievements was Jake the Snake’s 1st place in Duelist, Chiparoo’s 1st in El Patron, Doc Rog’s 2nd place win in Elder Statesman, Marshal D.J.’s 2nd place in Senior Gunfighter, and Fire Opal’s 3rd place in Senior Lady. Duke West and Jocko placed in the Silver Senior Category, and although Graydog placed 4th in the Cattle Baron category, he came in 14th overall in a tough field of competitors. Doc Rog was the only RMR member to shoot in the Wild Bunch, and he also placed in a few side matches. Seven of our members participated in the Warmup Match with awards going to the top three men and top three women. Fire Opal took 3rd in the Women’s category.
Friends of RMR also placed quite well. Mt Jughead placed 4th overall and was the men’s Montana State Champion for 2021. May B. Shecann walked away with top honors for Montana’s women. Congratulations to both shooters on their well-deserved wins! Also, congrats are in order for all those RMR friends who attended the shoot. You know who you are!
Once again, thanks to all the Black Horse Shootists for putting on a phenomenal match. Their work is much appreciated by all. Although the scenarios were a bit corny, there was nothing “cob”bled together! That was for you, Jughead! 😊
Overall RMR members could hold their heads high as they left Great Falls. But, knowing everyone who attended, they are already plotting their strategies for the 2022 state shoot! Looking forward to it!
For those of you who are new to this sport, there are a lot of YouTube videos that give some great information about Cowboy Action Shooting.
One I ran across today was hosted by Long Hunter from Amarillo, Texas. This informative video can help you understand the equipment needed when Cowboy Action Shooting.
Another beginner's video is hosted by Skinny, the editor of the Cowboy Chronicle. Skinny discusses basic information while displaying his shooting. https://youtu.be/br8fJdeHIrA
If you want to learn how to score and watch a black powder shooter shoot a stage, view this next video. https://youtu.be/pitCy38D3CA
For many years, RMR's board has planned to recognize and honor some of our past members and dear friends who have departed this earth. When RMR applied for and received a range improvement grant from MT Fish, Wildlife, and Parks in 2016, the proposal included plans to build our much used pavilion as well as a kiosk for information and a Guns Gone Silent display. All of our board members worked hard to complete this goal, and after our August 10th, 2019 shoot, we celebrated our former members and friends with a dedication ceremony.
The ceremony was well attended including two shooters whose spouses were recognized on our board. After a welcome and a review of the project in the pavilion, attendees traipsed over to the kiosk. Cactus Ron and Idaho Muleskinner assisted with the unveiling of the memorial. After a poem was read by Fire Opal, emcee of the ceremony, Doc Tombstone organized a 21 gun salute then played taps. An emotional crowd then gathered under the pavilion to partake refreshments and share various stories about the honorees. Many tales were told about these folks by those who knew them. Some laughter was shared as humorous stories were related.
Those being honored include Charlie Bull (Dan Holstin), Mad Millie Black (Rowena Holstin), Jackpine (Lee Klawitter), I.C. Poorly (Harlan Johnson), Banker Barb (Barb Micheau), R.E. Volver (George Bowman), Fairly Reliable Ron (Ron Hunter), Galloping Swede (Les Johnson), Stretch (Ron Bame), Birta Rose (Judy Taylor), Charlie Whiskers (Charles Emanuelson), Poverty Bill (Bill Doyle), Curly Sue (Sue Atchison), and Pecos Jack (Jack Newell). All of these shooters are dear to the hearts of RMR members. "We know you'd be with us today if heaven wasn't so far away" was a quote that seemed fitting for the occasion.
At the end of the gathering, Cactus Ron probably said it best. "There are a lot of names on the kiosk. Let's not be adding any more names soon."
Another cowboy crossed the great divide. It is with great sadness, we report the loss of our dear friend and RMR member, Daryle Handy AKA Koocanusa Kid SASS #82311. Koocanusa was a longtime member of RMR. For those who knew Koocanusa, they admired his grit in the face of adversity. Koocanusa loved Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) with a passion. He attributed his participation in CAS as a huge motivator that got him out of his wheelchair and moving again.
Due to injuries sustained while he was in service to our country and a motorcycle accident, Daryle was severely disabled. But when he was introduced to CAS in Eureka, he challenged himself to make the effort to shoot. Koocanusa Kid adapted everything we know about CAS to make it work for him. Among those adaptations he made leg holsters, fitted his gun stock up-side-down, and shot from a scooter. Although he was not the fastest shooter, he was usually accurate and cleaned many matches. Koocanusa managed to attend matches in Eureka, Noxon, Bigfork, Simms, Hamilton, and Great Falls.
It was a pleasure to know Koocanusa who served as an inspiration to many CAS shooters. His cheerful smile and steadfast determination will be missed.
Daryle is survived by his loving wife, Kay AKA Sweetwater Lily, at the family home in Eureka.
Benton City lies about an hour north of Great Falls. Tucked in a river valley along the Missouri River, you travel through wheat field after wheat field to come to this quaint little town. What you might not realize is that Benton City was once one of if not the most important town in the Montana Territory.
Steamships once traveled the Missouri River up to Benton City. However because of the topography of the river and a series of rapids, this was as far as river commerce could travel along the wide Missouri. Benton City became the hub for all western travel and commerce. Mining equipment unloaded and gold and silver loaded on the steam ships. Buffalo hides filled many a steamer for an eastward journey. And of course, people poured into Montana via the river.
If you haven't had a chance to tour Benton City, you need to put it on your bucket list.
Construction of the steel trailer shed is almost complete. After several grueling work days, a team of RMR members have nearly finished this task. Thanks to Buckskin Dave, Jake the Snake, Duke West, Graydog, and Doc Tombstone the RMR trailer will have a new home and will be able to be stored with the steel.
Over the years, the steel just keeps getting heavier … imagine that! And several RMR members concocted the idea of building an addition to our existing storage container. With this addition, much of the steel can be stored on the trailer thus eliminating some extra steps when setting the range.
Building this addition became a priority for 2020, however there are additional projects that need to be completed. If you are interested in helping out on any other projects and work parties, be sure to contact either Jake the Snake or Graydog.
Last fall I attacked the tall pile of newsprint Cowboy Chronicles that sat in our gun room since ... well ... let's just say it was a long time. I went through each and every Chronicle looking for save-worthy articles. It was time for the stack to diminish, and I was ready to pile up some fire starter. In the March 2005 edition, I found an article I specifically remembered. It was entitled, "A Glossary of Sweeps" and was compiled by Crooked River Bob. Since it was memorable and useful, I thought I would feature some of the sweeps from the article.
Bad Jack Abernathy Sweep: Nine shots on four targets: 1-1-4-2-2-4-3-3-4
Badger Sweep: Successive sweeps firing one less shot on each sweep: ten shots on four targets: 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-1-2-1
Cactus Buck Sweep: ten shots on four targets: 1-1-1-2-2-3-3-4-4-4
Doc's Sweep: Shoot a bank of five targets in the following order and repeat: 1-4-2-5-3
Mustang Sweep: Ten shots on five targets: 1-1-1-2-1-3-1-4-1-5
Of course, there are the basic sweeps included in the article such as the Nevada Sweep, Double-tap sweeps, and Progressive Sweeps, etc., but these are a few that caught my eye. There are a lot of different configurations for sweeps, and I am sure more have been "thunk up" since this article was published. What sweep would you write into a stage?
The original Big Whiskey was built up Rock Creek outside of Noxon on a ranch owned by a former member. Some of the original RMR club members spent countless hours constructing the town. This picture was taken in 2004, and shows some of the original structures. After shooting at this venue for several years, RMR relocated to the Taylor Ranch, then our current Big Whiskey II range in Noxon. Some of our original members/builders of this original location who are still active in RMR include: Doc Tombstone, Jake the Snake, Jocko, and Fire Opal.
Approximately seventy cowboys and cowgirls attended the 2020 Montana State shoot in July. This year RMR members Chiparoo, Marshal DJ, and Jake the Snake made the trek to the Black Horse Shootist's range located on the north side of Great Falls.
Coming home with the coveted Schuetzen Plaque was Marshal DJ, pictured above. Twenty-five shooters aimed at the distant target, eleven hit it, and Marshal DJ came closest to the SASS cowboy's star. Congratulations on winning the plaque for 2020, Marshal!
Chiparoo placed first in the Grand Patron category, Marshal DJ placed second in the Senior Gunfighter category, and Jake the Snake also placed second in the Senior Duelist category. Not enough RMR members attended the shoot for an RMR team this year.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic shooters attended the Montana State shoot from all over the country including California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Washington, Idaho, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
Jake the Snake was pleased to see a dozen younger shooters at the state shoot this year. According to Jake, "About five youngsters were on my posse, and every single one of them worked hard all the time. I would be proud and pleased to shoot with any of them again."
Congratulations again to our RMR members as well as the other shooters at the Montana State Shoot!
Looks like we got the better part of winter behind us and with anything like luck we will be having our April shoot ... with anything like luck!
Jake and I have checked out the range a time or two and so far no sign of winter damage. We're going up later this week to check again, but so far so good at Big Whiskey.
At our last board meeting we put together a right aggressive list of things we want to get done this season. (early this season) I'll be letting you know when we will have a "General Workday", but that will mostly be a clean up day. The list below is what we need to get done this year. If you see something you'd like to do just call a friend and come on out and do it. If you do decide to head up on a particular day, just drop a general e-mail to any and all so we can join ya.
Hope you all wintered well and are ready for a great year of shooting and friends and friends and shooting. Call me if you have any questions and I look forward to seeing you in April.
§ Clean up Mix House and Shore up
§ Stockade reinforcement and repair
§ Stockade cleanup
§ Burn rotten and unusable materials
§ Screws in roof of trailer shed
§ Spraying in range area
§ Supplies – hand sanitizer, TP in a Rubbermaid tub, Paint
§ Paint inside of bathroom
§ LED light for bathroom
§ Finish the front of the concrete berm
§ Painting on fronts props
§ Hinge system for windowsills
§ Replace fence post on stage 4 alley - DW
§ Clean up old registration area
§ Build shed from old materials where registration tent has been
§ Entrance sign for Big Whiskey
I have been Cowboy Action Shooting with the Rocky Mountain Rangers for several years now, and I keep coming back for a lot of reasons. The folks of the RMR are always friendly and welcoming to visitors as well as their fellow members. When arriving on the Friday before a match, I am often meet by other campers, and Jocko & Fire Opal usually stop by to say Hi in the evening. Watching young shooters come along is always a pleasure. The first time I shot with Poco, I remember how fast he was, even if not many targets were hit. Several years later Poco came up to me and with a big smile, asked if I was aware that his final time was faster than mine. Graydog and Doc do a fine job of writing scenarios, which are varied and mix easy with challenging. Of course I have to endure Graydog’s harassment, but it’s OK, I find it entertaining. Another unique feature for a monthly shoot is the time after a match where folks can compare scores and catch up on the latest.
There are other things to enjoy at a RMR shoot as well. It is a weekend match which allows for more shooting and for folks who RV, a nice place to stay. On occasion there are other campers to share a fire at night with and sometimes I enjoy the peace and solitude of being the only one around. My dog takes me for hikes in the surrounding area where we are often rewarded by seeing deer and elk. The Big Whiskey II range is inviting to shoot Cowboy at, no cars or trucks in view, stage fronts that lend an air of Old West to the match, and the scenery does not include man made berms, high tension towers or someone’s house, just woods and mountains.
"Shooting at Big Whiskey", yep it really works for me, so I thought I'd share my feelings.
Well, we finally got to do our first shoot of the year. All went well and as usual, we all had a great time. We had two safety mishaps on Saturday: one 170 rule and one shot landing too close to the line. But everything went off ok. Sunday went really well, and the weather was great. Doc C. tried shooting gunfighter and did really good for his first time. I decided to try duelist and did ok, Jake the Snake shot duelist and did well.
Over all everyone did good and got the cobwebs out. We all missed Doc Tombstone and hope he heals up soon so Graydog will have some competition, even though Ranger 6 was getting close.
Here’s hoping the rest of 2019 goes as well, and sure look forward to seeing you at the next shoot.
Just spent the day (June 8th) with the good folks at Noxon after camping on the range Friday night. It's so peaceful and cool at night in the trees and early enough in the year to avoid the wildfires and smoke. We had a rain filled Saturday after the first couple of stages which always makes it a challenge but it could've been much worse. At least it was warm enough for my hands to mostly work. I just wish my brain would have.
The nicest thing about shooting at Big Whiskey is the terrific people that frequent the venue. It would've been nice to have Jocko with us but he graciously pulled puppy duty so Fire could enjoy herself. What a guy.....probably going to get an extra lump of coal in his Christmas stocking this year and well deserved.
Anyway, back to the good people who set this up for all to enjoy. Even in the bad weather they make it work by providing a bit of cover to get out of the rain to the greatest extent possible so we manage to keep the guns and the shooters as dry as possible.
I always look forward to coming over from Great Falls for a fun time with the Noxon crew but maybe you could move Noxon a couple hundred miles closer so I could get there more often. I'd encourage everyone to get up north and enjoy it as much as I do.
Jerry (MT Jughead) Thunstrom