Fast-draw artists converge at Darke Co. Fair

GREENVILLE — “Little Miss Sure Shot” would likely have been proud as fast-draw shooters from across North America came to Greenville to participate in the Annie Oakley Index Championship Saturday and Sunday.

The contest, a chairman-sanctioned event through the World Fast Draw Association (WFDA) and hosted by the local Shawnee Bandits Club, was held at the Ohio Center at the Darke County Fairgrounds.

The Annie Oakley Index Championship is the first chairman-sanctioned WFDA event held in Ohio since 1980.

The contest pitted 27 men and 14 women — from Canada to California — all vying to see who is fastest on the draw. Contestants use single-action revolvers to shoot wax bullets at targets aiming for the utmost speed and accuracy.

“The shooters see the light on the target, draw, cock the hammer, aim, and fire,” explained Johnny Perry, Shawnee Bandits club member. “From the time the light comes on to the time the wax bullet hits the target, it’s usually less than a quarter of a second.”

Distances range from 5 to 25 feet. Shooters shoot at a single target in one contest and at two closely placed targets in another. Competitors fire multiple times in a series of phases, with their speeds recorded. Missing the target means a full, one-second deduction and a loss of points. The shooters with the lowest overall scores win, with more than $3,000 in prize money at stake.

Two different styles of shooting are tested in competition: “Open,” which allows fast-draw artists to draw with one hand and pull back on the hammer with their opposing hand before firing; and “Thumbing,” in which the shooter must draw, cock and fire with one hand only.

“This is a sport where you just can’t buy a gun and do it — you have to be trained by someone, people who have been shooting for decades,” said Perry.

Perry explained that fast-drawers use a variety of methods for shooting: “thumbing,” “twist draw,” “slap cocking,” “dump draw,” “up cocking,” and “ram fanning.”

“The shooters still have to adhere to the specifications and guidelines by the WFDA,” he said.

Donna Lechner, with her husband Tom — both competitive shooters from Holtwood, Pennsylvania — said fast-draw shooting is a family-friendly activity.

“If you’re looking for a sport for the family, this is a great sport for them to get into,” she said. “The biggest thing is safety and having fun.”

Perry concurred, calling fast-draw shooting “the safest sport in the world.”

“We have no live ammo, No alcohol or drugs are allowed. Safety, family, camaraderie — that’s what it’s about,” he said.

Top 10 Women’s Open Results, with points:

1. Donna Lechner, Pennsylvania, 12.556

2. Carol Bonnett, Ohio, 16.893

3. Jennifer Knick, Ohio, 17.822

4. Judith Lawton, South Dakota, 19.428

5. Alexis Rothenberg, California, 19.466

6. Sarah Pantano, Kansas, 19.801

7. Laura Campbell, Ohio, 20.329

8. Margie Tinsley, Kansas, 21.662

9. Diana Rosen, Minnesota, 21.813

10. Paula Murphy, British Columbia, 22.302

Top 15 Men’s Open Results, with points:

1. Howard Darby, Calgary, 13.166

2. Terry Campbell, Ohio, 13.787

3. Mike Pantano, Kansas, 14.123

4. Jim Tinsley, Kansas, 14.975

5. Dan Qualls, Idaho, 15.041

6. Bob Arganbright, Illinois, 15.422

7. Harry Ballengee, Ohio, 15.886

8. Jon Rivera, California, 15.966

9. Jon “Trickshot” Wilson, California, 15.996

10. Herbert Gootee, Kansas, 16.651

11. Greg Knick, Ohio, 16.776

12. Brian Colwell, Colorado, 17.016

13. Johnny Perry, Ohio, 17.222

14. Scott Bateman, Oregon, 17.241

15. Tom Lechner, Ohio, 17.278

Top 5 Women’s Thumbing Results, with points:

1. Donna Lechner, Pennsylvania, 7.835

2. Laura Campbell, Ohio, 11.145

3. Alexis Rothenberg, California, 12.707

4. Carol Bonnett, Ohio, 15.272

5. Judith Lawton, South Dakota, 16.231

Top 5 Men’s Thumbing Results, with points:

1. Howard Darby, Calgary, 7.821

2. Jon “Trickshot” Wilson, California, 8.057

3. Bob Arganbright, Illinois, 9.309

4. Tom Lechner, Pennsylvania, 9.743

5. Jim Tinsley, Kansas, 10.111

Visit the World Fast Draw Association website at www.fastdraw.org/wfda for more information.

Nick “The Quick” Nica of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, practices his fast-draw skills in anticipation of a World Fast Draw Association competition held at the Darke County Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday.
https://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/web1_Quick-Draw-0004-WEB.jpgNick “The Quick” Nica of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, practices his fast-draw skills in anticipation of a World Fast Draw Association competition held at the Darke County Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday. Erik Martin | The Daily Advocate

Fast-draw winners of the Annie Oakley Index Championship gathered for a photo following the contest.
https://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/web1_KIMG0435-WEB.jpgFast-draw winners of the Annie Oakley Index Championship gathered for a photo following the contest. Courtesy image

By Erik Martin

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The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.