Ambush at Cavern Cove 2013

June 28, 2021

Ambush at Cavern Cove 2013 was my first Ambush experience. For several years, many of my SASS pards assumed I was from Tennessee. It was easy enough to do as I had been a worker at the Tennessee State for several years and had never shot the Alabama State match. Part of the reason stemmed from the fact that Ambush traditionally took place the same weekend as the Tennessee worker's shoot through. Wartrace is my home...the place where I still call home...and the conflict kept me from ever shooting at Alabama.

Ambush that year was the last leg of the Triple Crown of Cowboy Action shooting. Alchemist Belle and I both entered the Triple Crown with several folks from Wartrace and eventually Lickskillet Charlie found a way for all us Tennessee folks to shoot during the Ambush shoot-thru. The Triple Crown brought many shooters to Ambush for the first time.

Held October 3-6, the match once again played host to the Alabama State Championship - in addition to being the final leg of the Triple Crown. The Shooter's Book was reordered again this year with the rules no longer being separated by the costume contest.

The theme of the match focused around the career of Randolph Scott.

That year, the North Alabama Regulators were lead by President- Lawman Mark, Vice President-Buck D Law, Territorial Governor- Marshal TKD, Stage Marshal- Ben T lron, Range Marshal- Lickskillet Charlie, Awards Marshal- Granna, Treasurer-Shez Lethal, Secretary-Drake Robey, and Property Marshal- Badger McNeely. The number of reported outside volunteer help dropped considerably in 2013 with only Andrew Quigley being mentioned as helping with side matches. I guess too many volunteers felt run down after a while.

The stages for the 2013 Ambush read simple enough. It is most notable for the introduction of 'No Miss Ned'. The brainchild of Ben T Iron, 'No Miss Ned' gave shooters the opportunity to go as fast as their hearts desired without concern to whether they hit the target or not. In any case, the match was so masterfully written that it earned honors of being the 2013 SASS match of the year! Either that or the case of Scotch that was delivered to the Wild Bunch and set up in their hotel room put the match over, but who knows!

But the thing I remember most about Ambush is one of the lessons that I learned about stage writing and the way our perceptions cloud us from reality. During the shoot through, there was a stage where you had to start standing 'in the center' of the table. Seemed simple enough. Instructions didn't really say much about where you needed to be after that, just that you had to start there. To me, it made sense, because of the next transition, to immediately take one step to the left after the beep and go about my business.

In hindsight, I should have never asked that question. Asking that question during the shoot through lead to a 30+ minute break for the posse so the NAR board could go to the cabin for a sidebar and executive session where the board of directors decided if you could take that step that or not. It was finally decided that you could not do that - if you did, you would get a P - and everyone in the match would have to do it that way - after all, it said you had to start in the center. May not seem like such a big thing, but is that something that was really going to be understood and enforced? With all their eyes upon me, I did it the 'approved' way, sacrificing that transition. However, I did find it interesting, watching folks shoot that stage on the second day of the main match that most folks were taking that step that I was previously denied, and they weren't getting their P. Just goes to show you that, when you do things that leave room to question, you cannot guarantee that everyone will shoot the match the way you think they should.

Our traditions and other biases can some times lead us down strange paths. They can cause clubs to expect that newcomers do it 'just like we always have done it' even though they have never been to your club before. They can also sometimes lead us to continue to do things that put ourselves in danger, if, for no other reason that we have traditionally done it that way before and nothing happened.

I have a few results to add to this post. Lead Ringer was the overall winner with Sidekick repeating as the Alabama State Champ. Slick's Sharpe Shooter was the overall top cowgirl with Sugah winning the Alabama State Cowgirl crown.

As I continue to work through putting the 2021 Ambush Shooter's Book together, I hope that y'all find as much enjoyment shooting it as I did putting it together. I also hope that you enjoy reading these stages from Ambush of old. I know that folks at NAR have enjoyed shooting several of these stages again recently as they turn back the clock!

I hope to see you soon, on The Firing Line.

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