By Madeline Sullivan

Hillsborough County’s very own Cowboy Mounted Sports Association Shooting Club, the Bay Area Bandits, is hosting an event like no other. The Summer Shootout Series is being held on Saturday and Sunday June 25 and 26, with a match starting at 10 a.m. on both days. The Series will be held at Florida State Fair Grounds, Charlie Lykes Arena, near 5025 Orient Rd., Tampa.

The Cowboy Mounted Sports Association, or CMSA for short, is a fast paced equestrian sport. The competitors race for time, using two .45 caliber single action revolvers to shoot at the targets along a given course. To ensure safety, the guns are loaded with a black powder that can pop a balloon at up to 15 ft. away.

Competitors are scored on their time and accuracy, penalties given to those who miss a target, run the course wrong, and even drop a gun. A typical course pattern can be ran in 15-35 seconds, leaving contestants with very little room to make any errors. The CMSA offers a division for men, women, seniors, and even children 11 and under. All competitors start out at the same level, advancing after they’ve received four qualified wins.

The Bay Area Bandits were founded in 2009, providing a family oriented mounted shooting club in Tampa. It has many club members who assist with the needs of the competitors, whether it be borrowing guns, horses, or holster or offering advice to the competitors.

For Clarice Bean, who has been a Bay Area Bandit for four years, all it took were a few practices and matches, and a professional mounted shooting lesson to get her hooked on the sport.
“The people are so nice and will literally give you a horse to ride if you need one and use of their guns if needed,” Bean said.

The Bay Area Bandits have matches on the first Saturday of every month, along with a general monthly meeting for members on the last Monday of every month. Everyone who is interested is encouraged to come out and give mounted shooting a try. The next monthly meeting will be held on Monday, June 27 at Buddy Freddy’s located at 1101 Goldfinch Dr. Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. with the meeting to follow at 7 p.m.

For more, visit The Bay Area Bandits Facebook page and bayareabandits.org.