Cowboys and girls shoot it out near Saskatoon

Saskatoon's Muzzle Loading Club took a trip back in time — to the wild west. They hosted the 7th annual Western Canadian Competition, just south of Saskatoon.
Gerry and Chuck McCann (aka Granny Sharp Shooter and Grey Beard) say the best part of the Western Canadian Competition is the camaraderie. (CBC)

This weekend, Saskatoon's Muzzle Loading Club took a trip back in time — to the wild west. They hosted the 7th annual Western Canadian Competition, just south of Saskatoon.

You can hear the group from kilometres away. But nothing prepares a newcomer for the sight that greets them on the other side of a forested path behind Chuck and Gerry McCann's homestead.

'Kanada Girl' learned to shoot at age 46. Her ex-husband taught her. Now she holds the title of Top Lady Gun, which means she is both fast and accurate. The joke is that she lost her husband and kept the guns. (CBC)

Imagine stepping into an action scene of an old spaghetti western. There are men wearing leather chaps, cowboy boots and hats, donning vests with shiny badges that read Single Action Shooting Society. Large silver pistols hang ready at their hips.

The women could be Annie Oakley's kin — and they load their long-necked rifles in their dresses and corsettes.

And the air is thick with gun power.

A furious competition between rival posses is underway. And the entire three-day competition is a battle for the fastest, most accurate shot.

This weekend, 56 shooters have come to the McCanns' place to camp out and shoot — through windows and doors of façades made to look like old-fashioned prairie banks and barns. And everyone's journey to the shoot-out is a little different.

Flora Kupsch — aka Kanada Girl — used to be frightened of guns. Until, at age 46, she picked up a gun and gave it a shot.

"Kanada Kid — which is my ex-husband now, we were married before — he got me started into this. I used to watch, just a spectator basically for three years and then he said, ‘No you are shooting!’"

Now Kupsch, 53, is a wanted competitor. She holds the prestigious title of Top Lady Gun and has won numerous titles throughout North America.

And all the western-style shooters here are all vying for the title of Top Gun.

This year the McCanns decided the theme for the gun-shooting competition should be Saskatchewan Outlaws. And the name they gave this year’s event is fitting: Shoot Out at Bounty Gulch.

And naturally, half the fun is really in the western alias they each take on and the camaraderie to be found in the adult-play.

"Do you know, I love the shooting, I really do — I love to shoot — it is an adrenaline thrill and what not. But I love the people. You know, the fellowship with the cowboy community is incredible," says Gerry McCann.

The Shoot Out wraps up with awards and an old-time promenade. This really is the place to be if you are a true gun-slinging cowboy or girl.