Oakdale Day of the Cowboy event adds more bang

Jim Winnick shoots from horseback. The ninth annual National Day of the American Cowboy will be in Oakdale on July 26, 2014.
Jim Winnick shoots from horseback. The ninth annual National Day of the American Cowboy will be in Oakdale on July 26, 2014. Courtesy of Judy Moore

Shooting irons will join branding irons at Oakdale’s celebration of the National Day of the American Cowboy this month.

Mounted shooters from the San Joaquin Valley Rangers in Stockton are scheduled to demonstrate their skills at the July 26 event, using two .45-caliber single-action revolvers loaded with black gunpowder, much like those used in the late 1800s, according to a news release from the Oakdale Saddle Club and the Oakdale Cowboy Museum. They will demonstrate riding patterns and shoot at balloon targets. Riders are scored on time and accuracy, and there will be a variety of levels on display.

New to the ninth annual celebration, two locals will compete in a quick-draw challenge and the opportunity to win $500. The reigning world champion, Oakdale High graduate Jon Rivera, will compete against Dan Qualls, a three-time world champion who is also an Oakdale High alumnus.

This sport combines a single-action revolver using black powder blanks and a lightning-quick draw to create the fastest timed sport in the world. These local champions will grab their gun, draw it out of the holster, cock the hammer and pull the trigger to fire at a balloon target. All this is calibrated in thousandths of a second.

“This is a sport that you can compete in as you get a little older. It does not take a lot of physical strength but requires a lot of mental concentration and practice,” Qualls said in the news release for the National Day of the American Cowboy celebration.

“We decided to add some extra ‘spice’ this year to the event and bring on the mounted shooters and the fast-draw folks,” Oakdale Cowboy Museum Executive Director Christie Camarillo told The Bee via email. “With two world champions in our backyard, it was pretty easy.”

The Day of the American Cowboy celebration will run from 2 to 10 p.m. at Oakdale Saddle Club Arena. Organizers from the Saddle Club and the Cowboy Museum plan a fun and informative day of Western activities. Gunslingers, a ranch rodeo and cooking in a Dutch oven will be featured.

Members of the newly formed California Carriage and Horse Powered Museum will share information about their organization and demonstrate the use of a Dutch oven.

The ranch rodeo will take place in the evening, with local ranch cowboys competing against the clock in events that are real day-to-day tasks on the ranch. Competitors will work in teams to rope, sort and brand livestock. Prize money will be awarded to those with the fastest times.

“It’s only fitting that on this special day of recognizing the cowboy that his ranching work be honored by holding a competition between local area ranchers,” said Billy Jones, president of the Oakdale Saddle Club.

“The Saddle Club has been doing a great job with their ranch rodeo,” Camarillo said, “and it has really taken off since the time slot moved to the evening. We decided to partner with them this year and add (the mounted shooters and quick draws) to see if we could draw more interest. I think the crowd was about 300 last year, and that was just for the ranch rodeo. So, hopefully, with the fan base from these new events, we will attract more interest.

“It’s a great way to involve others who may not know about our local Western heritage, where every day is the ‘day of the cowboy’ here.”