Ambush at Cavern Cove 2004

February 22, 2021

In 2004, Sawyer took over the reigns of directing the annual Ambush at Cavern Cove. This was the eighth overall edition of the storied match.

Held September 30 - October 3, the match again tried to pack as much fun as it could in four days. The 2004 Ambush at Cavern Cove would also again host the Alabama State Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting.

The match that year was themed as a "Tribute to the Founders of SASS," with each stage starting with a story about one of the members of the Wild Bunch. There were also three pages of the Shooter's Book filled with insightful biographies of each of the members of the Wild Bunch. The club would go on to receive the SASS Wooly Award as the 2004 top club in SASS. Coincidence?



In addition to all the accolades heaped upon the Wild Bunch, a couple of pages in the back of the book tell a detailed story of the history of the North Alabama Regulators as well. Also, of historical note, this is the last of the Ambush Shooter's Book made in the larger, full page format. Beginning in 2005, the books will be created using the half page booklet format we still use today.

Flipping through the Shooter's Book,I again find myself wondering when wearing a hat no longer became a SASS requirement, as It is again listed here as part of the "minimum dress requirements." If you are interested in learning more about current SASS dress requirements, be sure to check out the topic on our weekly series, The Firing Line.



There were some shotgun knockdown targets introduced at Ambush in 2004. Stages 2 and 5 both included knockdown targets and could be called Ambush's first 10-10-4+ stages. Stage 7 included a couple of shotgun swingers. The rest of the stages that year still included static shotgun targets. Round count included 100 Pistol, 100 Rifle, and 43+ shotgun.

Flipping through the Shooter's Book, you will see a lot of things done then that have fallen out of favor over the years like drawing cards to determine target engagement order, multiple 'bonus' targets, handing off guns during the course of fire, engaging the shotgun targets in a particular order, and, of course, the Mystery Stage.

We have just picked back up working on the Shooter's Book for this year's Ambush. Stages are being finished up and will soon be reviewed as we begin to make final preparations for the match. I sure hope that you can come and be a part of it, and make more great memories with us, on The Firing Line.

Ambush at Cavern Cove 2003

February 08, 2021

Held October 2-5 the 2003 Ambush at Cavern Cove again played host to the SASS Alabama State Championship. With Fannie Lee serving as Match Director along with assistance from Sawyer, president and CEO of Sawyer's shooting school, so much more was packed into the festivities that they needed to stretch it into four days.

I always noticed that in today’s championship agreement, championship level matches agree to NOT sell free misses. Although I never had the opportunity to shoot in a match that offered the chance to buy one of those free misses, after flipping through the Shooter’s Book, I see the going rate for a free miss in 2003 at Ambush was $5!

I also read some of the Rules and Regulations, not knowing if some of these were SASS rules, or club rule. However, as long as wore at least cowboy boots, cowboy hat, jeans and long sleeve western shirt, you met the minimum dress requirements, I guess. Apparently, in the old days, hats were mandatory, and allowing women to wear short sleeve shirts came later? don't ask me, I don't know...

Thursday was a quiet day with the biggest draw being the RO Class offered that morning. Friday opened up with side matches consisting of a shotgun match, Man on Man, gunfighter stage, pistol and rifle long range, and a fastest 3-gun. Each chance at a side match would cost you $1. Exact change, please.



Saturday and Sunday were, of course, reserved for the main match. This year’s theme, "Stars of the Old West", brought many famous gunfights and gunslingers from the silver screen to the stages. In addition to the stories from several films dotting the pages of the Shooter’s Book, it also included some lengthy biographies of several western film stars.

The match was back to a 10 stage affair, dropping the two extra stages from the year prior. There was also an additional posse shoot. Round count included at least 90 pistol, 81 rifle, and 38 shotgun. You also needed some rounds for the Mystery Stage, although I cannot tell you how many as it was not recorded. You would have also used another 10 rifle rounds in the posse shoot where you split a board in twain. Stages still included static shotgun targets, so be sure to remember to load your golden BBs.



The old bottle rack was used back on stage 7. I tried using that rack in a Christmas match back in 2019 (pictured above). These are truly beer bottle sized targets. I was about run up the nearest tree when I brought it out. I hope the shooters were able to handle their hostilities a bit better back then.



Stage 5 introduced the original Ned target to North Alabama. While many folks marvel at the large Ned target at the range today, you might be surprised to learn that our current Ned is actually the second sheet of 4x8 steel that the North Alabama Regulars cut into an asymmetrical giant of a man. The original nearly eight foot Ned was cut out of some milder steel and was retired after a few years, but he was introduced here at Ambush in 2003. Folks still take pop shots on him, every now and then, preventing him from rusting in peace on the hillside.

I hope you enjoyed another flip through the pages of history in our look at the Ambush at Cavern Cove 2003. I hope that you can join us on the range soon, where we will make some new history on The Firing Line.

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