Throughout the year the Tombstone Livery Stable plays host to many different live-action shooting competitions featuring real cowboys and cowgirls.
The shooters who participated are members of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS). Some of the shooters come from as far as Canada, while others come to the livery from nearby Tucson. All of the shooters have an old western-type alias as a name.
These aliases range from High Rock Drifter and Dirty Bob to Gritty Gunslinger and Granny Annie. Aside from the aliases, the shooters share the same passion for intense competition in live-action and horse mounted shooting.
The shooters are also placed in several different categories that they compete in. These categories range from cowboys and duelists to gunfighters and elder statesmen.
"I try to come out at least twice a month," said High Rock Drifter, a resident of Marana. "I also go to Casa Grande and Three Points. I've been to Tombstone about two or three times this year."
On the surface, it might seem that most of these cowboys and cowgirls are just having fun, but that's not entirely the case. However, there's truly a fierce competitive spirit inside all of the cowboys and cowgirls that come to the livery stable.
All shooters fire at eye-level and ground targets using a wide-array of pistols, rifles and shotguns. The shooters fire multiple rounds at each of these targets using a combination of weapons. The shooters are judged on their accuracy and their total time for hitting all of the targets.
SASS stresses accuracy and safety at all of their shooting events. All shooting participants are required to wear protective eyeglasses and are encouraged to wear earplugs. There are also at least three spotters standing behind the shooter to observe the shooter's accuracy in hitting the targets.
Most shooters are seasoned and well experienced when it comes to firing weapons in an open range at targets.
"I come out here at least twice a month," said Dirty Bob, a resident of Tucson.
In addition to hosting weekend shooting events throughout the year the livery stable is also host to many professional shooting competitions. Some of these competitions feature well-known national champions in shooting.
According to the owner of the livery stable, Doug Evans, the goal of the stable has always been the same.
"Our mission statement is preserving our western heritage," Evans said. "Our whole goal here is to keep the legend of Tombstone alive and hopefully promoting Tombstone as the cowboy shooting capital of the world."
Evans also said the livery has greatly benefited from the infamous legend of the O.K. Corral.
"People from out of state or out of the country love to have the opportunity to shoot where Doc [Holliday] and Wyatt [Earp] did some shooting, or to ride horses where Doc and Wyatt rode," Evans said. "We're doing what we can to promote Tombstone's legend about the cowboys and shooting, only we're doing it as a sport and are very safe about it."
Tombstone has felt the effects of the recent economic decline. However, Evans said the steady influx of shooters had a positive financial impact on the livery.
"The cowboys shooting here, both venues mounted and action, as well as the folks that camp here too that support our facility, that's keeping us going," Evans said. "As with a lot of other small businesses, we did not get a bailout program like the big wigs on Wall Street, we did not get any economic stimulus programs, so we rely pretty much solely on the cowboys to help keep our facility going."
To compete in these events, one must first become a member SASS. Memberships range from lifetime and senior memberships to corporate and one-year memberships.
The prices of all memberships vary in price. They start as low as $55 for a one-year membership and go all the way up to $750 for a lifetime membership.
SASS will be sponsoring many more shooting competitions at the livery throughout the year.
The livery will host the "Duel in the Desert" shooting competition on May 25-26. The cost of entering this competition for SASS members is $50. For more information visit www.oldpuebloshootists.com.
The livery stable is hosting a horse-mounted shooting event on Feb. 17 and action shooting events on Feb. 16 and 17. For more information visit www.tombstonelivery.com.