3 A deathly silence filled the hall. —'I‘d
put that drink down‘. advised my
' neighbour in a low voice. But it was
too late there was an ear—splitting bang. my arm jerked and a pint of
lager sloshed down my front. All
eyes were fixed however on a figure at the other end ofthe hall in a
checked shirt. wide brimmed hat and ‘ leather boots with a bizarre
contraption strapped to his thigh. Legs apart. knees bent. rigid with concentration. he confronted the
enemy — a red balloon in a metal
' stand wired to a computer terminal. I Presently a light ﬂashed and faster
than you can blink. he whipped out
his gun and fired. This procedure
was repeated many. many times. By
10.30pm I was nearly deaf. the air was thick with gunpowder smoke and little shreds ofcoloured rubber littered the ﬂoor. It was the end ofa long competition night at the Scottish Fast Draw Association (SFDA) in Glasgow‘s Grand Ole Orpry club.
I was warned about Sydney
Devine‘s mysterious charms for I” middle-aged women and about the
Scots' partiality for country music. but I never dreamt that the West
Coast was so wild. The cowboy
business is booming and has spawned a large network ofclubs
from the Orpry at Paisley Road Toll — home of the Glasgow Gunslingers
; and reputedly the biggest Country and Western venue in Britain — to Sherlock‘s bar in Coatbridge to Kansas City in Wishaw and Colville Park in Motherwell. Even Irvine boasts two clubs: the Long Horn and the Southern Comfort. A growing number of people. known to each other only by their ‘Western’ names. go wild in their spare time. By day Hugh Hart lubricates heavy machinery in a power station and his
Lucy Ash covers her ears too late and discovers how
wife Betty runs a chip shop. nights and weekends they are Kid Colt and Little Fawn. ‘Work is just survival‘. said the Kid who has been shooting for 17 years. ‘our social life is gunfighting and all our friends are in the Country and Western scene.‘
I first discovered the ‘scene‘ when I noticed the strange window display in Jim Templeton‘s High Street shop (since moved to 69 London Road). The Hole in the Wall. Jim. alias Bullet Hole Ellis. and Dick Lee who runs a Barras stall. are Glasgow‘s main suppliers of Western gear and
in Glasgow The West is Won.
stock all the necessary costumes and ‘ ‘ - props including guns. Some
customers are Country music fans
who like [Taunting new outfits at club
nights where the emphasis is on dancing and there is only a quick ‘fun shootout' between live bands. For others though it is the competition nights which count and clothes and music are just the surrounding frills. As Kid Colt put it: ‘I like Tammy Wynette - she‘s got a nice voice and a nice body — but I‘d rather have a gun'.
Those involved in serious fast draw shooting become obsessed with ‘rig technology‘. No. this has nothing to do with Ewing oil — a rig consists of gunbelt and holster and enthusiasts are forever experimenting with new and speedier designs. Shooters in the SFDA‘s Premier division can destroy a target in just under one quarter of a second and the outcome of competitions often hinges on hundredths of a second. Last year the SFDA abandoned the usual electronic clock for a computer.
by Iil I’residente. a cowboy technical adviser to a conveyor belt company who is now reckoned the fastest shot in Britain.
Glasgow's cowboys buy blank Jager or Smith 38 guns which have to be converted to shoot out by boring a hole through the chamber and barrel. As such they become (‘lass l firearms but the law surrounding their possession in Scotland appears somewhat nebulous. While chief constables in some areas are happy to grant licences. others. according to one cowboy. —'turn a blind eye because they don‘t want to be seen condoning the use of potentially lethal weapons'. The SFI)A has L" .‘ million ofpublic liability insurance but there have been no serious accidents so far.
Firearms. however. are not the only problem. A row over gunpowder recently exploded in Irvine. All serious shooters have gunpowder licences as homemade ammunition is so much cheaper: St) shells cost £1(lover the counter but one pound ofgunpowder at £3 is sufficient for ()le rounds. James Burns of Irvine‘s ( ‘astlepark estate. suddenly had his licence withdrawn last year because a member of the Cunningham district housing committee strongly objected to gunpowder being stored in council property. ‘I tried to explain that I’m no Guy I’awkes— I keep it in a padlocked metal box and it cannot explode before it's primed — but he wouldn't listen'. said Burns with a touch of rancour.
Known as The Southerner because
I programmed for maximum accuracy I he was born on Glasgow‘s South Side l
llllAR‘r l’.-\ l()\
and admires the Confederates. Burns was not immediately convinced by the cowboy crowd when he first saw them ill his local community centre. ‘l Ionestlyl thought they were daft. it just didn‘t seem natural. But then I realised they were having fun and I was just sittingthere ill lllysuit and tie . .. when you dress tlp you can do things you'd neyer dream of. Although a Premier diyision shooter. 'l‘he Southerner relishes the ‘party atmosphere' most and has a passion for Ilank William's songs. llis 17 year-old son. ‘Randolph Scott‘ the 1986 SI’I)A junior champion. has a purely sporting interest. shuns fancy dress and prefers Dire Straits. (iunfighting is by no means a male dominated sport —. the competition I attended was won by (‘athy Watton. nicknamed 'l‘ublo Gold after a ruthless blonde bounty hunter. Cathy‘s quicksilver trigger touch is the envy of her son and husband and she is tipped to become the first ever woman in the Premiers. Iil I’residente's girlfriend. Solitaire. wields considerable power if no gun as she is the judge presiding UVCI‘ the
computer. Despite the trappings of lllgh technology. a \sisllltll inlay.- l ll tough
sell—sufficiency seems to surround the Glaswegian gunfigllte rs. ‘l was 'born in the wrong place too late’. said a melancholy Kid (‘olt. ‘We used to live off the land. Nowadays you can open a tin and it's just not the same’.
Centre: Trophy winner. Tublo Gold. and would-be Texan. Kid Colt.
Far Left: Deprived of gunpowder. The Southernerand his son. Randolph Scott.
Glasgow‘s wild frontier OUT NOW
Alan 'l‘aylor on new books
Born to Boogic‘.’ Look no further.
OUT NORTH WEST
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