In competitions across the country, men and women put their marksmanship and riding skills to the test in horse-drawn shooting events.
With about a year and a half of experience under his belt, Elizabethtown resident Garrett Murray recently won his class’s championship at the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association World Championship in Amarillo, TX.
These competitions involve competitors riding through different models on horseback and shooting balloons using two single-action revolvers that fire blanks. The goal is to go through the pattern as quickly as possible without running out of balloons.
Garrett said he was watching the national rodeo finals on television when he got the urge to ride a horse himself.
Murray’s wife, Kelsie Murray, has been horseback riding for most of her life. She said she had known him from high school and her husband had never shown an interest in horseback riding until recently. When he started to ride, she said Garrett ended up breaking his arm, but continued once he recovered.
Last October, he started attending a clinic run by Amanda Hudson that dealt with horse shooting. Since then he said he fell in love with the sport and started to practice often with a new horse. While horseback riding was something new to him, he said he had been hunting for years.
Garrett said his first shot was in Florida, where he secured second place on day one and third place on day two. They then began to compete elsewhere such as Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana.
It all culminated in the world championship in Amarillo. During the approximately 1,000 mile trip, Garrett said the tires had burst twice.
During the competition, he said he was intimidated by shooters, especially because of their speed. In the first lap he experienced a cannon malfunction and finished 14 seconds behind the leader which he said was disheartening.
In one of the latest drawings of the competition, his trainer told him to perform it as if you were trying to scare the other competitors. Later, other shooters also ended up pushing each other to the point of missing parts of the pattern.
âI went back to the stable to set up my horse, and I had a friend that was thereâ¦ and he walked up and he had the biggest smile on his face and he said, ‘Dude, I think that you did it. “
Garrett managed to retire from competition as the men’s class 1 world champion. He ended up with a cash prize and the championship belt buckle.
Garrett said the relationships he’s cultivated over the past year are what really brought him back to the competition time and time again.
âI haven’t met anyone I wouldn’t enjoyâ¦ spending time with people in this sport is absolutely the best thing,â he said.
Kelsie also said that horseback riding had a positive influence on their family, as they now share the experience with their 2-year-old daughter.
Now Garrett has said he and his horse are going to take a break. He said he was thrilled to be back in competition and looked forward to pursuing even more competitions and possibly another world championship victory.
Andrew Harp can be contacted at 270-505-1414 or [email protected]