This weekend, three generations of the Travis Family will compete against one another in a mounted shooting competition at Union County Fairgrounds in Afton.
During this weekend’s Southwest Iowa Shootout, Bruce Travis, his sons Clint and Jamie Travis and Jamie’s son, 14-year-old Tristan Travis will complete four courses, which combine the speed of barrel racing and the challenge of target shooting.
Each of the four courses, which are unknown to participants in advance, have 10 balloons that competitors must shoot with either a single action, 45 caliber revolver or a lever action revolver.
Bruce said it is a requirement for both guns to be of the late 1800s with little or no modifications.
“You’re shooting (the balloons) as you ride by (on a horse),” Bruce said. “A lot of the time, with the shotgun or rifle, you’re dropping the reigns and firing as you go. It’s kind of a fun course.”
To burst each balloon, powder blanks of coarse cannon powder are fired, which travel about 15 feet with a spread of one to two feet.
“It’s a bit of a shotgun effect,” Bruce said. “It’s very easy to miss.”
The average course takes anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds to complete.
Scoring and classifications
Scoring is based on number of balloons hit and elapsed time, which includes time added for penalties, such as five seconds for each missed target or 60 seconds for dropping a gun.
“That’s another trick in itself ... to get quick at your gun changes,” Bruce said.
To even the playing field, competitors are placed into classes, which include mens, senior mens, ladies, senior ladies, juniors and wranglers.
Bruce, who is entering his third year of mounted shooting, is a level two competitor, which he earned after winning against at least 12 other competitors over the course of four competitions.
Bruce said all riders begin at level one and can advance as far as level six. As each rider makes his or her way through the levels, the number of competitors increase, as does their level of skill.
Additionally, participants can earn “buckles” for scoring this highest amoung a group of classes. Two buckles are awarded at each competition for the rider who scores the best amount levels one through three (the “limited), and the rider who scores the best amount all of the participants in level four and above (the “overall”).
Participants who shoot all 10 balloons in each of the four courses of a competition earn a silver bullet.
Bruce said he became involved in mounted shooting at the nudging of his friend Carl Watson of Creston — a world-class mounted shooter, who has placed fifth in the world this year.
“I mostly did it to get Carl to stop bothering me,” Bruce said. “But, I went to a clinic and I was hooked.”
Bruce said, between Watson and another seasoned mounted shooter Todd Jackson of Creston, he has had a lot of support.
“Todd is always coaching us and telling us the best way to do it,” Bruce said. “Getting to beat him is a lot of fun.”
It wasn’t long after Bruce got his start, when he decided to involve his boys. He decided to get his grandson Tristan involved, who he describes as a “good little cowboy” and “a great shot.”
“He loves guns and loves to hunt, and I thought, ... he would really enjoy it,” Bruce said.
At his first competition in 2013, Tristan was already displaying a knack for the sport.
“I got pretty close to beating my grandpa,” Tristan said.
This year, Clint and Jamie started to compete, as well. Jaime won his first competition at the John Wayne Memorial Shootout in May in Winterset.
For Tristan, his only goal during the shootouts is to beat his grandfather, uncle and dad.
“If I can beat them, it’s a good day,” Tristan said. “But, if you lose to grandpa, it’s a long ride home.”
Southern Iowa Shootout takes place Saturday and Sunday at Union County Fairgrounds, 211 S. Grace St., in Afton.
For individuals interested in learning about mounted shooting, a clinic will be offered 10 a.m. 3 p.m. and the competition will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday.
More information about the event can be obtained at www.cmsaevents.com or by contacting Jim Gates at 319-415-8725.