Mounted Shooting Joins Houston Rodeo Competition

Greg Flakus

Tens of thousands of people are flocking to Houston's annual Livestock Show and Rodeo, the biggest event of its kind in the world.  The main attraction is the rodeo, where cowboys ride bucking horses and compete in other contests drawn from ranch life.  A new event this year connects visitors with the cowboys of the Old West depicted in movies.

This is what most people come to see every year at the rodeo, cowboys competing in events like bull and bronco riding, team roping and barrel racing.

The rodeo organizers have built a loyal fan base with these contests.  But this year they have added some new attractions, including one that harkens back to old Western movies, Cowboy Mounted Shooting.

In this sport, riders try to pop balloons as they race past.

Although it was rarely done in the historic Old West, horseback shooting became common in Hollywood depictions of that era.  Those movies inspired Jim Rogers, Chairman of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, to start this event more than 20 years ago.

“Cowboys shooting from horses is part of Americana that we wanted to capture,” said Rogers.

But no one gets shot in this event. Balloons are the only fatalities.  Because moving the horse around the targets quickly takes great skill, not physical strength, the riding challenge has attracted many women competitors like Annie Bianco.

“Eighty percent is riding.  You have to be a really good rider to do this sport and the rest is gun handling,” Bianco noted.

The guns fire a special charge of black powder that produces a lot of fire and smoke, but no projectile. The burning embers from the gun muzzle are what break the balloon.

Denny Chapman has been competing for 15 years. He says competitors use revolvers similar to those used in the Old West.

“Every time we shoot this gun it has to be cocked back because it is single action and then we pull the trigger to lower the hammer,” Chapman noted.

In some contests, they use rifles instead of revolvers.

“Most of us drop the reins on our horse and we run about 35 miles an hour [56 kilometers an hour] just shooting as fast as we can and, boy, it is fun.  It is exciting,” Chapman added.

The rough-riding, fast-shooting cowboys hope to become a yearly attraction at the world's biggest livestock show and rodeo.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs