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The Packer Weekly: Thorsteinson shoots for his target

Senior Tyler Thorsteinson has been shooting single-action rifles for the past five years. Submitted photo

The number 79011 would mean next to nothing to most people, but to senior Tyler Thorsteinson it is his identifier. Those five numbers are what makes him part of a family of more than 100,000, the Single Action Shooting Society (S.A.S.S.). The group is an international organization that aims to preserve and promote the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting. The organization allows people to dress up in old clothing and fire old guns at metal targets as fast as possible.

“I joined because my parents were in it and it looked pretty fun, because you get to play with guns, and guns are always fun,” Thorsteinson said.

Thorsteinson has been shooting in Cowboy Action Shooting for five years and enjoys the competitive sport is and how open everyone who participates in it is.

“The people are nice, and it’s fun when you get up there because you want to shoot fast, but you don’t want to miss,” Thorsteinson said. “It’s definitely a type of adrenaline rush.”

Thorsteinson’s parents, Kimberly and Troy, have been participating in this organization for some time now and because of their participation Troy is now a Range Officer (RO) and a Range Master. A Range Master is in charge of certain stages groups compete at and handle any discrepancies.

“No one is allowed to walk around with ammo in any guns,” Troy said. “The guns have to be period-correct, but they can be replicas. What we usually shoot with is our two pistols, a rifle and a shotgun. The two pistols and the rifles are usually the same caliber but not always.”

Troy first heard of the organization from a friend and thought it would be a good experience for his family and a good way keep everyone active. Kimberly agreed and they got Tyler and their daughter, freshman Ramie, involved immediately.

“He picks on me all the time,” Ramie said. “It makes me want to do better; we’re competitive against each other. One time we had a bet for 50 cents to see who could do the stage the best.”

One thing that helps people stay in the cowboy mindset is that everyone has to dress up in period-correct clothing and they have their own alias. Tyler’s is Shadow Hunter.

“I like the dressing-up aspect because it’s fun to see all the people and it’s like you’re going back in time,” Tyler said. “It was cooler back in the past than compared to now.”

The No. 1 criteria for participants is safety and the No. 2 is to have fun. Safety is stressed so much that at the beginning of each day before the shooting begins, a safety briefing takes place reminding everyone of the rules.

“If anyone misses it, they are not allowed to shoot for the day,” Kimberly said. “Sometimes, in rare circumstances, we will take those people to the side and give them a private reading depending on where they came from. Some come all the way from California.”

After the reading, they are able to go to their posse (stage) and hear what story they have prepared for that days shooting. A story is read before each shoot to help put them in the mood of the Old West.

“We all shoot on the same stage, and we all shoot it the same way,” Kimberly said. “We try not to do age jumping either, because we, as a family, don’t think it’s fair. You can do it, and some people do, but my feeling is that I should be able to shoot with the women in my age group and they should shoot with me.”

Tyler feels as if the entire S.A.S.S. organization is one big family and likes knowing that no matter where he goes, he will always have them supporting him. He understands that with college coming he will not be able to participate as much the coming year.

“I’ll try to keep doing this as long as I can, but with college coming up I don’t know how I’m going to continue,” Tyler said. “It’s kind of expensive.”