Bushwhacked at Cavern Cove 2017

August 16, 2021

In the April of 2016, one of North Alabama's longtime cowboys, Bama Red, was not in great health. Bama Red was a cowboy who loved black powder shooting. He also prided himself on nearly always finishing at the bottom of the score sheet. While cancer had started to take Bama Red on his final journey, it did not diminish his attitude.

Here is a video of Bama Red from 2013.

He went into that monthly match in April of 2016 knowing his prognosis was not good. Doctors had initially given him a window of three months to two years. But the prognosis changed just before the match where he was told he had, at most, a couple months left.

In order to drum up some attendance in what normally would have been just a regular April monthly shoot at NAR, and generate some interest and participation in Black Powder categories which were his favorite, the club created a special 'Guns of Thunder' club Black Powder match, for this special match.

I was fortunate to be able to be the TO on several of Bama Red's final stages at that match in April. Bound to a wheelchair, there were several times I had to use my foot as a chock to keep Red from rolling off the front of the stage or have one hand holding the timer with the other having a death grip on his chair to keep him from moving as he struggled with his heavy loads. But, at the end of the day, he was able to smile and enjoy his shoot.

Two weeks to the day later, Bama Red was gone.

Fast forward to April 2, 2017. Many in the club wished to have a fitting tribute to Bama Red. It seemed only fitting the the club host the inaugural Alabama State Black Powder Championship, Bushwhacked at Cavern Cove. Held April 2, 2017, this six stage match had story lines paying tribute to our friend, Bama Red. You can read more about his adventures in the Shooter's Book.

Something new was also added to NAR for this match. Two additional NED targets were added to stage 5. This brings the total NEDS in existence to 4.

One of the things that still moves me the most....Red's final wishes were for his ashes to be spread over the range at North Alabama. I was able to secure a signal cannon from the Wartrace Regulators. In addition to his family being able to scatter some of his ashes by hand, I was able to load some into that cannon as a final sendoff to a cowboy who was bigger than life. It still humbles me to think that I was able to help him through his final stages, both shooting his final stages in life, and sending him downrange after.

Barkeep Casey was the Men's overall champion with Branchwater Jack finishing second just behind him and claiming the Alabama State Champion crown. Alchemist Belle was the top lady and Alabama State Ladies champion, finishing 4th overall.

While we are never sure when we will shoot our final match, Bama Red was able to go out on his terms. He was able to shoot with his friends, and family in attendance, just one last time. We cherish those moments, with times like these being one of the reasons folks continue to meet with each other on The Firing Line.

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