Guns and Glory
Out on the firing line, one of the shooters misses his final pin and has to reload. "I know who's buying the beer tonight," calls out another competitor, waiting his turn under one of the tents. There are tables behind him stacked with cases of guns--.22s, .357s, and .44s, double-stacking and semiautomatics--and boxes of corresponding bullets. Participants are responsible for supplying their own handguns and ammunition, although Cowhy and others are willing to share. Pin shoots are a chance to try out another's gun, and, if you don't have the correct bullets, a sly way to get free ammunition for the shoot. The biggest rub comes if a borrower shoots faster than the owner. Achieving the best time, says Rick Parsons of Saline, is all about bragging rights. "It's even worse if you beat him with his own gun, even by a tenth of a second," he says.
The Tri-County Sportsmen's League occupies fifty-seven acres of rolling, partially wooded property just east of Saline. The league was founded more than seventy years ago and offers everything from archery practice to firearm training courses to youth events to monthly steak fries at the clubhouse, with most events open to nonmembers. "It's a neat place just to be around a bunch of interesting people," says Mike Moehl, who maintains the league's 900-strong membership list.
The league has seen an increased interest in target practice, self-defense scenarios, and gun safety courses. The league's most recent CCW (carrying a concealed weapon) safety course sold out in six days. Another popular event is the annual Women on Target instructional clinic. "People are finally learning that if you're going to carry a gun, you have to learn how to use it," Cowhy says.