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Sucker Creek Outlaws take cowboy shooting to the next level

Les “J.D. Smith” Froiland, one of the Sucker Creek Outlaws founding members, fires his rifle during last weekend’s cowboy shooting event at the Becker County Sportsmen’s Club. BRIAN BASHAM/DL NEWSPAPERS1 / 3
Mark “M.B.” Fields and “Dakota”Phil Poppenhagen load their guns while Larry Cihacek supervises the loading table at the Sucker Creek Outlaws monthly cowboy shooting event at the Becker County Sportsmen’s Club. BRIAN BASHAM/DL NEWSPAPERS2 / 3
Stenerson carries carpet pieces to the range past fellow cowboy shooters “Marshal” Jim Donner, Tim “The Pringle Kid” Larson, Larry “Morris Bluff” Cihacek, Mark “M.B.” Fields and “Dakota” Phil Poppenhagen before the Sucker Creek Outlaws cowboy shooting began last weekend. BRIAN BASHAM/DL NEWSPAPERS3 / 3

A gritty group of cowboys carry their guns up the dirty street. The outlaws, with names like “Cascade Cookie,” “Marshal Jim Donner” and “The Pringle Kid,” walk past the saloon and Wells Fargo, their itchy trigger fingers looking for something to shoot.

Once a month they come into town, shoot the place up then vanish back into the modern world and regular lives like ghosts of a bygone era.

These pistoleros are the Sucker Creek Outlaws, who meet at the Becker County Sportsmen’s Club on a monthly basis during the spring, summer and early fall to hone their cowboy action shooting skills.

Cowboy action shooting involves firing a lever-action, pistol caliber rifle, two center-fire single-action revolvers, and either a double-barrel or a Winchester Model 1897 shotgun at specific targets in a specific order, all while being timed and watched for accuracy.

“Any misses, or what they call a procedural, which would be to shoot them out of order or safety infraction, you’re penalized for,” said co-founder Les Froiland.

And while dressing like you stepped out of 1870 isn’t necessarily required, some form of western garb is. No shorts and sandals are allowed. Many members who participate in a category of cowboy shooting called B-Western take their attire very seriously from their 10-gallon hats to the spurs on their boots.

“The No. 1 rule in this game is safety,” Froiland said. “No. 2 is to have fun. It’s pretty safety oriented and there’s very few accidents. Everything is pretty well supervised.”

While the club is not affiliated with the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) yet, they plan to join within a year and they follow all of the SASS rules and regulations.

The Sucker Creek Outlaws started by blind luck, Froiland said. He was looking for anyone interested in pistol competition at the Becker County Sportsmen’s Club, where he is also a member, but couldn’t find anyone. He just happened into Lee Daily, who was interested in cowboy shooting, and Vern Jewett, who had made some cowboy shooting targets.

“So we said, ‘Well, why don’t we start a cowboy club?’” Froiland said.

The club has about 20 members with an average of 10 participating in the monthly shoot at the Sportsmen’s Club. Froiland said they are always looking for new members, and anyone interested should come to their October shoot to see what its all about.

The shoot is on Oct. 12 at the Becker County Sportsmen’s Club. Registration starts at noon and shooting at 1 p.m. The public is welcome, and some members will let others use their guns to try out cowboy shooting for themselves, Froiland said.

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