Taking their shots

Stein’s Big Rock Range hosts
Cowboy Action sport shooting

Shooters from 25 states
have visited the Lexington range

By Michella Marino
Contributing Writer

LEXINGTON, Ind. (June 2006) – Tucked nearly out of view in a little “holler” just a few hundred feet off Hwy. 356 in Lexington, Ind., lies the Big Rock Range. This shooting range is at the home of a four-time world champion Don Stein, 55.
But Big Rock isn’t your average shooting range. It’s a Cowboy Action Shooting Range and the oldest sanctioned facility east of the Rockies.

Bib Rock Shooters

Photo by Kim Aldridge

Shooters prepare to fire at targets
at the Cowboy Action Shooting
Range in Lexington, Ind.

According to its official website, “Cowboy Action Shooting is a multi-faceted shooting sport in which contestants compete with firearms typical of those used in the taming of the Old West. It is a timed sport in which shooters compete for prestige on a course of different shooting stages.”
Harper Creigh, who goes by the alias Judge Roy Bean, first created the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting in 1981, but the Single Action Shooting Society, which is its governing organization, wasn’t formed until 1987. The relatively new sport attracts competitors from all around the nation and even the world. It “is the fastest growing outdoor shooting sport in the country,” the website says.
Stein was born and raised in the Madison, Ind., area, but he moved out west in 1983. He lived in Colorado for a while before moving to California, where he discovered Cowboy Action Shooting in 1990. Stein had read about the sport in gun magazines previously but became more interested in it upon finding an advertisement for Cowboy Action Shooting at a local gun shop in California. He then asked the worker for details on the upcoming event. Stein had been shooting guns since he was 5 years old, but he was unprepared for his first dose of Cowboy Action Shooting. He attended the shoot out, but after three stages of the event, he felt so embarrassed and mad at himself for being unprepared (meaning without a holster and other cowboy paraphernalia) that he just wanted to quit and leave.
Several other competitors calmed him down and he finished out the course. Stein decided he was interested in the sport and wanted to learn it properly, so he returned the next day.
Four competitions later, Stein beat 109 people to win his first ever competition. Over the next five years, he didn’t lose many more.
“I was 40 when I started, and I didn’t even know I had a competitive spirit.”
When Stein returned home to Lexington, he brought Cowboy Action Shooting with him. He created the Big Rock Range in July 1991 and has helped spur the sport throughout the Midwest.

Dan Stein

Photo by Kim Aldridge

Range owner and
national shooting expert
Don Stein poses
with a trophy.

For a while, his Cowboy Action Shooting range was the only one of its type around. People have visited his range from 25 states, Canada and even France. Many of the visitors who have enjoyed the Big Rock Range took the idea home with them, and Stein believes that 75 to 100 clubs have started due to his range. Big Rock Range is located on Stein’s private property, but occasionally he has someone help him with the mowing, which takes five to six hours, and with the painting of the targets, which is at least a two hour project.
“I sure don’t make any money at it. It’s a labor of love,” he says. “I love the sport and the shooters.”
Cowboy Action Shooters are required by the society to choose an alias having to do with the Old West. Stein has been known since his second shoot as Southpaw Too. When Stein went to register, they told him he needed an appropriate name. He told them he was Southpaw, and they declared that that name had already been taken, so he became “Southpaw Too” since numbers were not allowed.
The society’s website lists three types of guns that are acceptable for Cowboy Action Shooting: single action revolvers, pistol caliber lever action rifles and old time shotguns. Stein says the most common of the sanctioned weapons used by society members are the 38-caliber special and the 45-caliber Colt. Stein shoots with a pair of second generation SAA Colts and an original 92 Winchester rifle.
Concerning the old time guns used in the sport Stein claims, “Many people think they’re slow.” However, back in his prime, he was able to get five shots on target in 1.01 seconds. He’s also seen an elite gunman shoot two shots with a single action revolver so fast that it only made one sound.
Unfortunately, five years ago Stein fell off a ladder when he was working as a carpenter and seriously injured his back. This has kept him from competing in recent years, but he had left his mark on the Cowboy Action Shooting circuit long before his injury, which led him to be inducted into the society’s Hall of Fame last December.
Along with being the only person in the history of the sport to win four world championships in different categories back to back, he’s also won the Indiana State championship, the Ohio State championship, the Midwest Regional, the society’s Spirit Award, and the Plainsman event, which he won so many years in a row that the second place man jokingly threatened to break his thumbs.
The Big Rock Range holds competitions the second and fourth Saturday every month from February through November. Admission for spectators is $15 for society members and $20 for non-members. The events usually last from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• For more information, call (812) 866-2406 or visit the society’s website at: www.sassnet.com.

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