At competitions around the country, men and women put their marksman and equestrian skills to the test in mounted shooting events.
With about a year-and-a-half of experience under his belt, Elizabethtown resident Garrett Murray recently won the championship in his class at the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association World Championship in Amarillo, Texas.
These competitions entail competitors running through different patterns on horseback and shooting at balloons using two single action revolvers that shoot blanks. The goal is to move through the pattern as fast as possible while not missing balloons.
Garrett said he was watching National Finals Rodeo on television when he got the urge to get on a horse himself.
Murray’s wife, Kelsie Murray, has been riding horses for most of her life. She said she has known him since high school, and that her husband had never expressed interest in riding horses until recently. When he first started riding horses, she said Garrett ended up breaking his arm, but continued once recovered.
Last October, he began attending a clinic led by Amanda Hudson which dealt with mounted shooting. Since then, he said he fell in love with the sport and began practicing often with a new horse. While horseback riding was something new to him, he said he has been hunting for years.
Garrett said his first shoot was in Florida, where he received second-place the first day and third-place the second day. They then began competing elsewhere like Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana.
It all culminated at the world championship in Amarillo. During the roughly 1,000-mile journey, Garrett said had tires blow out twice.
At the competition, he said was intimidated by the shooters there, especially with how fast they were. In the first round, he experienced a gun malfunction and ended 14 seconds behind the leader, which he said was discouraging.
In one of the last patterns of the competition, his coach told him to run it as if you’re trying to scare the other competitors. Later, other shooters also ended up pushing themselves to the point where they missed some parts of the pattern.
“I went back to the stall to settle my horse, and I had a friend that was there … and he walked up and he had the biggest grin on his face and he’s like, ‘Man, I think you’ve done it.’ ”
Garrett was able to walk away from the competition as the world champion of the Men’s 1 class. He ended up with a cash prize and the championship belt buckle.
Garrett said the relationships he has cultivated from the past year is what has really brought him back to compete again and again.
“I haven’t met anybody that I wouldn’t enjoy … hanging out with the people in this sport is absolutely the best thing about,” he said.
Kelsie also said horseback riding has been a positive influence on their family, since they’ve been now sharing the experience with their 2-year-old daughter.
Now, Garrett said he and his horse are going to take a break. He said he’s excited to get back competing again and is looking forward to pursuing even more competitions and possibly another world championship win.
Andrew Harp can be reached at 270-505-1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.