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Old west to come alive at Ben Avery Shooting Range in Phoenix
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Old west to come alive at Ben Avery Shooting Range in Phoenix

The Ben Avery Shooting Range in north Phoenix will be dressed up like a western town this week.

It’s all part of the Winter Range shooting competition that will feature the look, the feel and the guns of the old west.

“Winter Range is the National Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting. It’s our 24th annual this year,” said Sassy Dancer, media coordinator for Winter Range. “We created a sport where we can dress like the old west (and) use names like the old west. Our competition is actually shot using firearms that are typical of the old west.”

More than 1,100 competitors from more than 40 states will be competing. They range in age from 12 to 80 years old. There are nearly three-dozen categories that are determined by age and competitive style.

Dancer said the grand prize is “a pat on the back.” She said the purpose of the event is to have a good time and enjoy the competition.

“We use single-action revolvers, we use lever-action rifles and we use old time shotguns,” said Dancer.

Sassy Dancer is not her real name. She said that everyone involved in the event goes by an alias, much like the characters in the old west did.

“We adopt a shooting alias that’s appropriate to a character or profession from the late 19th century,” said Dancer. “Maybe it’s a Hollywood western star or an appropriate character from fiction. Then we costume ourselves accordingly.”

The event is open to the public and admission is free. There will be live bands, food and cowboy entertainment. The great-grandnephew of Wyatt Earp will appear at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 28.

The event runs from Feb. 23-28.