11-year-old Durangoan World Champion Shooter
From The Durango Herald
Lots of young boys like to play a shoot-’em-up cowboy. Not many do it with live ammo.
Eleven-year-old Lyle Bryson does. And he’s pretty good at it. This summer, he earned the title of World Champion in Cowboy Action Shooting in the Buckaroo age category.
On Sunday, Bryson, who goes under the moniker “Young Gun,” was practicing his sport during a match at the shooting range south of town. Dressed in the requisite Western garb with a gun-belt heavy with ammo resting on his narrow hips, he was the youngest participant by probably decades.
Cowboy Action Shooting involves the shooting of various single-action weapons – a pistol, a rifle, a shotgun – in a specified sequence at targets set in scenes intended to mimic historic or famous fictional shootouts.
On Sunday, the scenes were fairly rudimentary, but the shooters gamely played along.
“You ain’t gonna take my money,” they were all instructed to say before opening fire during one of six stages in the match.
At another, they exclaimed “I’ve struck it rich!” with their hands on a gold pan before grabbing for their guns and letting lose on the various metal targets.
Sunday’s match coincided with the second annual Durango Heritage Celebration.
Bryson, whose father, Phil Bryson, and grandfather, Jim Bryson, also participated in Sunday’s shootout, said he became interested in the sport after his father brought the family to a match about two years ago. He got to try his hand at it during a demonstration afterward and was hooked.
John Malarsie, a gunslinger who helped organize Sunday’s event, said, “He shot, and he liked it, and he was good from the start.”
Since then, Bryson’s been practicing with help from a mentor, shooting name Evil Roy, and participating in matches locally with the Four Corners Gunslingers and with other clubs around the Four Corners.
He practices several times a week, “dry shooting” at home to enhance dexterity and with live ammo to hone his aim. Safe gun handling, strictly enforced at matches, has become second nature to him, his father said.
His tender years make him an anomaly at competitions. Fewer than 10 kids competed in the Buckaroo category, ages 9-13, at the World Championship in June in Albuquerque.
The sport’s governing body, the Single Action Shooting Society, has about 85,000 members worldwide, but at their national competition earlier this year, Bryson was alone in his age group.
Focused and polite, he explained in simple terms his motivation for wanting to participate in the sport.
“I don’t know. I just really like shooting guns,” he said.
Having won the top honor in his age group, he’s aiming his sights higher, looking to best or at least hold his own against gunslingers more advanced in years.
“He’s already beat me,” his father said.
Photo by Steve Lewis, The Durango Herald