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July 26, 2013

Packing heat in Pelham

The Great Nor'easter attracts contestants from across country

PELHAM — Cowboy action style shooters are convening at the Fish & Game Club this weekend for The Great Nor’Easter.

But this shooting contest isn’t the run-of-the-mill target event.

Contestants from as far away as Alaska are channeling their inner John Wayne and Annie Oakley, right down to their spurs and six-guns.

“The big lure is if you ever wanted to be a cowboy as a kid, here you can do it now in a friendly, safe environment,” said Jim McMahon, also known as “Jimmy Spurs.”

McMahon, a gunsmith and defending state champion shooter, owns Cowboy Gunworks in Derry, where he makes cowboy action style firearms.

Competitors — 135 men, women and youths registered — will wear Western clothes and use reproduction models of single-action revolvers, double-barrel shotguns and Winchester rifles typical of the Old West.

The best part is they do it in character. Spectators may run into Appaloosa Amy, Critter Longshot, Dirty Deadeye Don or One Ear Pete before they get out of Dodge.

McMahon said the event is the only one of its kind in New England and is great for spectators, because it is easy to understand and participants will help explain the competition.

Spectators must wear eye and ear protection when on the range.

Dan George of Fremont, alias “Wild Bill Blackerby,” is overseeing vendors and camping for the event. He said participation is below the usual 200 participants.

The economy is a factor, but so, too, is a shortage of ammunition, George said.

Manufacturers have been affected by meeting military and consumer demand, he said. “People have been buying in bulk, clearing off the shelves.”

The competition continues through Sunday.

Matches are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and tomorrow, with “The Showdown” scheduled for 9 a.m. Sunday.

The Fish & Game Club is at 100 Simpson Mill Road, less than two miles from Route 38.

For more information, visit thegreatnoreaster.com.

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