I always liked the idea of being a cowboy. I like the hats. I like the horses.  Heck, I even like beans cooked over a campfire. Wouldn't it be nice to experience the cowboy life?

I found a group that feels the same way about being a cowboy.  But, it's not the horses, campfires, and beans that are the main attraction.  For them, it's the guns.  One day a month from April to October, they head to the Titusville Sportsman's Club.  They dress in cowboy apparel, including a holster, and they shoot at targets that look like bad guys in black hats. 

Pat Eakin, of Titusville, founded the group in 1997.  It wasn't hard for him to find people who feel the way he does about guns and the cowboy life.

"It was just so simple.  So pure.  And it was something I really got an affection for," says Pat.  

Various shooting ranges, with the bad guy targets, are set up at the Sportsman's Club. The cowboys are timed and must hit each target as quickly as possible. One shooting range is a replica of a Wild West town and the cowboys need various weapons when they arrive. The cowboys get ten shots with a rifle, two blasts with a shotgun, and ten shots with pistols.  At another range, the cowboys shoot a bad guy and a beer can flies up.  They then shoot the can.

"It's always different,” says Pat.  We mix everything up and we'll have one-gun shoots and then it will be a three-gun for the rest of the day. We just mix it up to have fun."  

I was warmly welcomed by the group and was presented with a hat and a nice shiny cowboy vest.  I learned it's not just cowboys here.  There's cowgirls that shoot... and they are very good.  Wendy McKinnis, of Clarion County, is known as "Wicked Wendy.”  Every member of the group has an alias.  Most members don't know anyone's real name.

"You don't know if they're doctors, lawyers, garbagemen.  Everybody has a cowboy name. You go by that and you shoot and have a good time,” says Wendy.  

I had a good time watching the friendly competition. I was given a plaque making me an honorary member.  I was even given my own cowboy name...”Smiling Johnny-The Last Kid.”  The group is always looking for new members.  Just don't show up wearing a baseball cap and sneakers.

Information about joining the group can be found on the Titusville Sportsman’s Club website.