M. Kate West
How often do we hear the phrase “It’s a small world”? And that’s just what it turned out to be when Dave Stutenroth, aka Gil T. Azhell, and Lake Almanor resident Jeff Greening and Plumas County District 3 Supervisor Sherrie Thrall first met at the Washoe County Shooting Facility.
“We got to talking about shooting and I mentioned what I do and they talked about the Lake Almanor Sports Complex project. I gave Jeff my card and in a few weeks I got a call,” Stutenroth said.
The end result of that call is that he and approximately eight of his fellow club members will travel to Chester to join with the five other shooting groups that will be demonstrating in the special community event “Come Play in the Pines.” The event will be held at the proposed LASC location, which is adjacent to the super ditch and Stover Mountain Road.
Stutenroth and his club members will offer 30-minute demonstrations at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
“We are going to introduce folks to the firearms of the 19th century, such as lever-action rifles and single-action revolvers. We will also be running a course of fire that you would see in a typical competition,” he said.
In describing his style of shooting Stutenroth said he is a member of SASS, the Single Action Shooting Society.
He then said SASS, which is the governing league for his sport, is part old Western historical society and part competitive shooting league. As part of the experience, the members of SASS dress the part in either authentic 1880s clothing or that of long ago silver screen cowboy heroes.
“We compete with authentic firearms of the period. There are member clubs of SASS scattered across the United States, Canada, Italy and Australia, all over the world.
“By the nature of the clubs, most will have one match every month, but it’s not unusual for the average competitor to compete two times a month.
“From time to time clubs will put on annual matches that take several days. There are also sanctioned championships at state and regional and national, European and world level,” he said.
Continuing, Stutenroth said he was particularly interested in traveling to Lake Almanor “because it would provide the opportunity to share with the community about the sporting and community aspects of a gun club.”
“It’s not all about people wearing black T-shirts and hiding in the basement. SASS matches are like spending the day with 50 to 700 of your closest friends.
“I’m looking forward to this, as SASS members are always interested in getting a venue started. We enjoy traveling to different places; this is a unique opportunity for us as we are being involved before it is built.
“It is our pleasure to be able to provide our input with the project at the ground floor. A well-put-together facility is a real draw and you can attract clubs and shooters from across the country and ultimately from around the world,” Stutenroth said.
The second part of the event will take place in the evening at the Almanor Recreation Center on Meadowbrook Loop. There, community guests will have the opportunity to meet and ask questions of Stutenroth and the other event participants.
“I’ve been cowboy shooting for about eight years and getting started was a total accident.
“I’m good friends with my boss and we lunch daily. When I joined him that day he had an National Rifle Association magazine nearby, dog-eared with an ad for a rifle he wanted to buy.”
He said that he saw on the same page a pair of Ruger Vaqueros single-action revolvers.
“I thought they looked interesting and then I immediately forgot about them.
“About six months later my boss called me in the office and told me to shut door behind me. I thought I was in trouble. He reached behind his desk and pulled out a pair of Ruger Vaqueros with a full belt and holsters.”
He said his boss had seen them for sale in the local paper and bought them.
“I took them home that night and put on the Clint Eastwood movie ‘Outlaw Josie Wales.’ Then I put on the belt and holster and looked in a full-length mirror and thought it looked very cool,” Stutenroth said.
He said wanted to know more about the revolvers and found an article on the Internet about tuning them up for competition.
“A few minutes after that I found the SASS website. A week later I signed up and a few weeks after that I watched my first match. A month later I had all my equipment and competed in my first match. That was in February 2006,” he said.
Stutenroth currently belongs to two Nevada shooting clubs, the Roop County Cowboy Shooters and the High Plains Drifters, which are based in Fernley.
“I am also involved with multiple Arizona clubs, including a stint on the board of directors for Border Town, the Arizona state shooting championship,” he said.
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