This Boots was made for shooting
Anyone who thinks the Wild West died with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid might want to reconsider if they happen to encounter Boots Robb. The sharp-shooting Silver Creek cowboy has the fastest trigger-finger in the nation. Never mind that his targets are usually made of steel or that he rides into the sunset using four-wheel drive. Boots Robb has proven himself a force with a pistol to rival as any outlaw of the Old West.
Known as Mike Robb to the outside world, Boots Robb began competing in antique shooting competitions six years ago with the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS). Now ringleader of the Park City chapter, the Wasatch Summit Regulators, Robb won Top Overall Cowboy honors at this year’s National Championship, held Mar. 10-11 in Phoenix.
SASS is an international organization that sponsors shooting competitions using 19th century pistols, revolvers, rifles and handguns. Participants fire at steel targets in a simulation of Western shoot-outs. The sport has the biggest following in Western states, but affiliate clubs have spread since its inception 20 years ago to every part of the country. Even Delaware has joined the scene. But shooting is only one part of SASS’s aim. Robb said the organization is just as committed to preserving the culture of the Wild West.
"We’re trying to keep the spirit of the West alive," Robb said. "Basically, we’re playing cowboys and robbers. The costumes and the way people act to get into it are a big part of the whole thing. It’s not just the shooting."
One vital aspect of the SASS culture is the alias. Each participant must choose a name that relates to a historical person or profession and suites the shooter’s personality. SASS outlines strict rules governing the alias, allowing no duplication of names or aliases without clear ties to history. Once chosen, the alias becomes the shooter’s sole identity in competition.
"Most people, I don’t even know their real name. In the cowboy world, nobody goes by what’s on their birth certificate. You don’t hear of Buffalo Bill by any other name, do you?"
The Wasatch Summit Regulators have grown to include more than 50 members since originally forming 10 years ago. Robb said that 20 to 30 shooters actively participate and that new members are welcome despite experience level.
"Anyone can learn to shoot," he said. "And there are lots of ways to be involved. We think of it as a community or family event. We have food and music from the era, and all the wives and kids come out." Robb was quick to clarify, however, that women and children more than merely support the gunmen. Ladies’ and juniors’ categories have grown like wildfire in the past year, Robb said.
"A 16-year-old kid won last year’s world competition, and some of the women shoot just as well as the men," he said. Robb has experienced the latter fact personally. Placing second overall to Robb at nationals was an eagle-eyed shooter named Holy Terror, the Top Overall Cowgirl. "No doubt about it, you can’t underestimate the cowgirls," he said. The Regulators hold monthly competitions every third Sunday at Parley’s Canyon. Robb assures rookies that shooting is safer than most conventional sports. "There’s never been a fatality that I’ve been aware of," he said. "It’s actually pretty hard to get an injury doing this."
The club is now preparing for world championships in Albuquerque, held June 15-24. For more information on attending or participating, potential wranglers can call 435-649-3625 and ask for Boots.
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