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HomeAt Home & BeyondCowboy Mounted Shooting at the Florida Ag and Wildlife Expo

Cowboy Mounted Shooting at the Florida Ag and Wildlife Expo

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While the rabbits, ducks, chickens, roosters, and turkeys were on display at the 4-H competition on Sunday, loud shots rang through the air successively.

The shots came from a ring set up nearby where competitors on horseback galloped around a series of balloons on posts (called barrels). They took aim at each balloon and rapidly fired a shot of black powder to pop the balloon.

“We use a blank, a black powder blank that makes a big spark,” explained Ken from Nova Scotia who has a house here in Florida. Ken was one of the competitors that day. “It breaks the balloon up to ten feet away.”

The name of the sport is cowboy mounted shooting.

If you miss a balloon or hit a barrel, it’s a penalty. Sunday’s competition was just for fun, and there was a little bit of prize money. This was a warm-up for next weekend when many of these competitors are in Georgia for nationals.

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Ken described how the competitors are ranked. Referring to the gentleman running the course while we spoke, Ken said, “Now this guy here is a senior men’s four. I’m a senior men’s five. You have to win your way to the next level. It goes one through six, the high.”

The sport requires a lot of athleticism and skill on the rider’s part, but the ages of the competitors were across the board. Ken is 60 and his buddy Gill, also a cowboy mounted shooter, is 76.

“He’s a phenom,” Ken said about Gill. “He could beat me all the time.”

The women flew through the course knocking off balloons as well as the men.

“My wife could ride way better than me,” Ken admitted. “She’s a champion barrel racer pole bender, and I’ve only been riding seven years. I didn’t start till after I retired.”

Most riders will put earplugs in their horse’s ears, but Ken said that his horse doesn’t like the earplugs.

Cowboy mounted shooting was just one of the many interesting skills on display during the week-long Florida Agricultural Wildlife Expo at the Brooksville Tampa Bay Regional Airport.
16371 Runway Drive (Just off HWY 41). 4-H Livestock shows and sales are scheduled throughout the week. (Through March 18th.) The entry fee to the expo is $2.00 for an individual or $5.00 for a family.

The Bulls & Barrels Rodeo will take place Saturday, March 19th at 7 pm and Sunday, March 20th at 2 pm. Special Rodeo Ticket Prices are as follows: Adult (11 & up) $20.00; Child (5 – 10) $10.00; under 5 – Free. For tickets go to http://www.fawexpo.org/rodeo.html

The schedule of events for the remainder of the show:

Tuesday – March 15
Gates Open 2:00 p.m.
Steer & Pullet Auction 6:00 p.m.
Gates Close 10:00 p.m.

Wednesday – March 16
Gates Open 2:00 p.m.
Swine Arrival
Gates Close 10:00 p.m.

Thursday – March 17
Gates Open 2:00 p.m.
Swine Show/Showmanship 6:00 p.m.
Gates Close 10:00 p.m.

Friday – March 18
Gates Open 2:00 p.m.
Swine Sale 6:00 p.m.
Gate Close 10:00 p.m.

Saturday – March 19
Gates Open 10:00 a.m.
Rodeo 7:00 p.m.
Gates Close 11:00 p.m.

Sunday – March 20
Gates Open 10:00 a.m.
Rodeo 2:00 p.m.
Gates Close 5:00 p.m.

Julie B. Maglio
Julie B. Maglio
Julie B. Maglio has experience in art, graphic arts, web design and development. She also has a strong scientific background, co-authoring a scientific paper on modeling the migration and population dynamics of the monarch butterfly, while attending the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute at Cornell University. She holds a B.A. from New College of Florida, majoring in Biology.
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