Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Local woman excels in fast draw competition


Carolyn Jones

Deb Stadin shoots in the Cowboy Fast Draw competition, where she won the Wisconsin State Championship.

Deb Stadin of Holyoke won the Wisconsin State Championship in the Cowboy Fast Draw competition on July 13.

Deb and her husband, Marvin, have competed in the Cowboy Fast Draw competition for several years, but it was just last year that she won her first match.

“I had never won a match until a year ago in June,” she said in a recent telephone interview. “But once I did, I’ve been very fortunate.”

Marvin had been a member of the Black River Bandits, a member of the Cowboy Fast Draw Association, of Superior, Wisconsin, since 2008. Deb traveled with him to the weekly meets.

“I was happy to stay behind the scenes and help put the food out,” said Deb. “A lot of gals in the club kept harassing me to give it a try. Someone put a gun in my hand and I was hooked. There is something addictive about it.”

Each person has an alias, none are known by their real names.

Deb is known as Lightnin, and Marvin is known as Fossil.

“I know people from all over the county, but I don’t know their names,” said Deb. “The camaraderie is greater than knowing people’s names. When we go to shoot, it’s like going to a family reunion.”

Deb said that she is not unfamiliar with guns.

“I have been hunting deer since I was a kid,” she said. “I use a rifle. Whether it is a pistol or a rifle, each has its own purpose.”

Cowboy Fast Draw is an organization with competitions all over the nation. Participants can compete in Jackpot competitions during the winter, where they win a jackpot. The trophies are not as fancy as in state, territorial and world competitions, which are held during the summer.

Each participant pays an entry fee.

“As long as you pay the entry fee, anyone can compete,” said Deb.

The Cowboy Fast Draw competitions are set in the Old West of the late 1800s. The participants dress in the style of the day, and wear gunbelts slung low on their hips.

The participants use the single-action revolvers that were available in the late 1800s, such as Colt .45s, Rugers and others.

When drawing, the contestants do not aim, explained Deb.

“You pull the gun out of the holster, bend your arm and fire,” she added. “It’s done more by muscle memory. We do it often enough so we know where to stop. We shoot at a two-foot target 20 feet away.”

A range officer controls the line and tells the shooters when to load, draw, fire and unload to ensure safety. Bullet casings filled with wax are used.

“It’s safety first, fun second and competition third,” said Deb.

Of the approximately 40 club members, about 12 come each week to the 4-H building at the Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds in Superior. Men make up the majority of the members, with half as many women.

“One of our guys was second in the world last year,” said Deb. “Three women won a championship or the World Championship in 2006.”

Winners receive a belt buckle and a trophy.

Last year, Deb was pleased to win sixth place out of all of the competitors — men, women and children — at the World Championship. She received the coveted belt buckle.

“That was kinda cool,” she said. “There were people there from Australia, Canada, Ireland and Lebanon, to name a few of the countries that they were from.”

Deb plans to compete in more championships in South Dakota in August for a state and national shoot, and in Missouri for a territorial shoot in September. The competition for a world title is in Nevada in October.

Deb is very pleased with her success.

“In this sport, it’s anybody’s game,” she said. “Things have to fall right. That evens the playing field. I’ve been blessed. I’m thrilled, and I’ll take it.”


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