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Friday, March 25, 2011

Gunslinging competition kicks off Palm Springs

Gunslinging competition kicks off Palm Springs West Fest & Frank Bogert Memorial Rodeo
Under the guise of covering a sporting event I managed to get roped into a gunslinging competition at the Palm Springs Convention Center this week.

The event was held to kick off the Palm Springs West Fest & Frank Bogert Memorial Rodeo, and raise money for the United Way. Thursday’s event was a “celebrity” showcase to get people really, really excited about it.
The celeb shoot-off featured such local dignitaries as Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, Palm Springs Fire Chief Scott Ventura, Palm Springs interim Police Chief Al Franz, KMIR weatherman Patrick Evans, and some classic, western, character actors.
But what bigger celebrities are there than Desert Sun reporters? And Palm Springs reporter Maricar Mendoza and yours truly had those bases covered.
So after a quick lesson, it turns out the trick is to pull out a — believe it or not — real six-shooter out of your holster, while simultaneously pulling back the hammer, when a light goes off on a target about as big as a trash can lid.
Then pull the trigger and shoot the trash-can-lid-sized target. The first one to hit it wins, best of five shots.
Needless to say, the police chief was the first person eliminated from the tournament. He said he didn’t want to ruin his shot with a semi-automatic gun by fooling around with a revolver. Technically, both he and the mayor were eliminated simultaneously, but close enough.
Pougnet, despite a self-proclaimed acumen at hunting deer, had difficulty with the hammer mechanism on the revolver and managed to get almost three of his allotted five shots off. I don’t think any found their way to the target though.
Fire Chief Ventura, on the other hand, missed his calling as an Old West duel re-enactor (or maybe a police chief), dominating his heat and making it into the round of finalists with ease.
Desert Sun reporter Mariecar Mendoza made it to a shoot-off in her heat, just missing the cut into the finals.
After getting a few tips on the finer points of the quick draw from Ventura, my heat came down to its own one-shot shoot-off between myself and 2011 Frank Bogert Memorial Rodeo Queen Jessica Reeske.
Showing appropriate manners, I crushed the teen queen with my fastest draw of the day and counted myself among the four finalists.
The final round was another story, and even my fire chief instructor couldn’t keep up with the lightning-fast reflexes of Jason Dibler, general manager of The Ace Hotel and Swim Club, who won the tournament.
To ease the disappointment felt by the rest of the finalists, we were all given huge western belt buckles to add to our western wardrobes.
The Palm Springs West Fest & Frank Bogert Memorial Rodeo runs Friday through Sunday at Caballeros Field, adjacent to the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, Palm Springs.

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