I've tried to understand why this game has taken me so strongly and I guess that it is a lot of fun. I've done lots of shooting games, from skeet to trap, to USPSA, and they're all fun. Lots of fun. So why is this game different? I've come to one simple conclusion: The people.
I've been to other matches in other disciplines, the tension before the match is palpable. Some of these folks come to win, and while they are courteous and helpful, you have a feeling that there will be winners and losers and the top dogs are nervous about the outcome of the match. The newcomers are also nervous about the match, and that nervousness translates into their performance. Americans like to win, and we don't want to do poorly at anything, so the competitive edge comes out during a competition. That's well and good, and we'd all like to win. I get it.
CFDA is different. With a motto of "Safety First, Fun Second, and Competition Third" it sets the tone for the game. We're there to be safe, have fun, and indulge in a little good-natured competition. Sure we want to do well, but we want the other competitors to do their best also, because after just a little while, those other folks on the line are our friends.
Unlike the other shooting games, it doesn't take a lot of money to get started. The equipment is easy. Many competitors use bone-stock guns, straight from the box. There are no equipment categories like some of the other disciplines. You won't see any tricked-out race guns on a CFDA line. A simple action job is all that's allowed, and it's not even necessary. The association has settled on one caliber, the .45 Long Colt, simply for ammo consistency. As a matter of fact, at sanctioned shoots, ammo cost is part of the entrance fee. Yep, that's right, the host supplies the ammunition. Everybody is shooting the same ammo. That's one less thing to worry about on your way to the venue.
I realize I'm new to this game, and we've been to only one sanctioned shoot (The Texas State Championships), but we found the people extremely friendly, courteous and helpful. In minutes after signing in we were talking to folks who were seasoned veterans, who genuinely wanted us to feel welcome, who wanted to share their enthusiasm, who wanted us to do well.
The club shoots are the same way; friendly. Folks talk and josh and ask questions, and get advice. Everybody pitches in to if something needs to be done, to give tips, to be helpful but not pushy. I can' say enough about the pure friendliness that we've experienced.
The dress is interesting,and the association has a dress code. Men wear long trousers, long sleeved shirts, boots and a hat. The association has adopted the 1880s as their time period, and if you want to dress from that era, that's encouraged. I've seen lots of dress from that period. Some of the guys (and gals) put a lot of energy into building their persona for the events. It's flashy, that's for sure. But, if you simply want to wear boots, jeans and a western shirt, that's fine too. Don't forget your hat.
There will be kids running around, too, strapped just like the adults. They've all been through the safety training, and vetted by a seasoned member before they're allowed to participate. The kids are safe, very safe, and they know both the rules of the game and the rules of safe gun-handling. They're courteous to a fault, honest competitors, and they're the future of this game. In a non-category match, don't be surprised if your competitor is a young'un. And don't get your feeling hurt when he beats you. Many times, sons beat fathers, or grandfathers. Fourteen-year-old reflexes are fast, and this is a reflex game. Sure, there is skill involved, but the kids are skilled.
I've walked all over this subject to give my readers an idea of how much fun this gunslinger game is, and we welcome new members. There's a page here with links to all the clubs. If you think you'd be interested, drop an email to one of the guys listed in each club, or give me a comment and I'll try to help find a club near you. I guarantee those guys and gals will welcome you, make you feel comfortable, and probably loan you a gun for the first club shoot. My club does that all the time.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to set up my range. Milady wants to practice for a little while. We've got a club shoot tomorrow, and Odessa is only three weeks away.