Female gunslingers set sights on title

LOS BANOS -- You don't want to mess with these ladies.

For Geneva "The C-21 Peacemaker" Brett, the local cowboy fast-draw club is unique. Most teams are dominated by men, but women make up the majority of the Golden State Gunslingers.

"Most fast-draw teams out there are 70 percent men and 30 percent women. Well, when ours first started, it was 70 percent women and 30 percent men," Brett said with a laugh after unloading her vintage single-action .45-caliber replica into a lighted target.

With names such as "The Ban-dita," "Comanche Red" and "Wicked Kate," the women gunslingers hope to show that you don't have to be a man to shoot with the best of them.

Brett also hopes more women will take a liking to fast draw and give the men a run for their money at the Cowboy Fast Draw Association's first California State Championships. The competition will take place Friday through Sunday during the Henry Miller Wild West Weekend at the Merced County Spring Fairgrounds.

But if the gun-toting ladies are successful in their endeavors, they'll create some stiff competition for themselves, too. Brett said a few female state champions have expressed interest and may soon be heading to California.

And with female championship times of less then a second, the Golden State Gunslingers will have to work hard if they want the championship title.

"This is the first time in the history of cowboy fast draw there will be a championship in California, and we're hoping our local club will have 20 to 30 competitors," Brett said.

After Brett signed on as the event's first female competitor, other women began their registration paperwork. One of them, Alice "Camanche Red" Pigg, said she, too, is now eyeing the grand prize: $1,500 in cash, an $800 gun and holster, and a sterling silver belt buckle.

Since the club's founding in March, Brett said, more men have joined to help even the ranks. But with a majority of female shooters, Golden State Gunslingers still stands as a local symbol of girl power.

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