By Les Goldberg
What do you normally think of when you think of seniors at play? Lawn bowling, tennis, Ping Pong?
How about target shooting with live ammo?
Throughout Southern California, hundreds of gun-toting baby boomers and mature adults are poised on the firing ranges and finding adventure and fun in an atmosphere reminiscent of the old Wild West.
From the beaches to the hills and valleys that make up bustling L.A., there are reminders of frontier legends, the cowboys and cowgirls of a bygone era, like Annie Oakley and Wild Bill Hickok to name a couple. One of them is Judith Rogow, 69, of rural Ridgecrest, Calif.
Known around these parts as “Death Valley Rose”, Rogow was introduced to sport-shooting by her father at a very young age but put her firearms aside while she went to college, got married and raised a family and enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, editor, website designer and public relations professional.
“It was about 20 years ago when I began shooting again,” she said. “I thought it would be fun to join my friends who were trying to start a local club for the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting.”
Rogow helped establish the Ridgecrest Gun Range Association and is an active member of her competition shooting team, the Robber’s Roost Vigilantes, which competes in local, regional and state championship tournaments and is an affiliate of the international Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) which promotes the sport all over the world.
“I have found that competitive shooting is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, relieve the stress of everyday life and make instant friends,” said Rogow. “I really enjoy the camaraderie. There are people of all ages and all walks of life. I like the fact that I can go to a match almost anywhere and fit right in with the crowd.”
Those sentiments are echoed by Mari (pronounced Mah-ree) and Karen Todd, also known as Bad and Goode Bascomb. Mari, 67, first started shooting at age 10 and bought his first rifle at 14. He, too, sidelined his hobby to attend to family and career, but several years later joined the Robber’s Roost Vigilantes. A year later, his wife Karen decided to give competitive shooting a try and “was hooked”.
“As a couple, our mutual interest in shooting provides us with enjoyment and entertainment,” said Karen. “Since we began relatively late in life (early 60s), we both wanted to improve our skills so we took lessons from two nationally ranked shooters in the Southern California area.”
She says their latest challenge is “to gain skills and learn techniques faster than the aging process can erode physical abilities. Shooting helps us stay active and mentally engaged.”
The Todds said one of the things that attracts them to Cowboy Action Shooting is the social component, “which is lacking in most other shooting sports. We especially like the historical aspects of the hardware and costuming – dressing up for the dinners, dances and awards banquets is a real treat. For larger events, we circle the wagons with RVs and enjoy the friendships with campfires, potlucks and other events.”
Although Mari is more experienced, Karen has taken home more trophies, including winning the 2008 California State Championship, first place in the 2010 Western Regional Ladies Black Powder tournament and the 2011 Ladies California Black Powder championship.
At 76 years young, Bob Gould knows a thing or two about competitive shooting. He’s been doing it for more than 50 years and still enjoys the sport. “In addition to the competitive nature of the activity, I also like the other aspects involved – gunsmithing, teaching and self-improvement. You need to have discipline, patience and persistence to be successful at shooting.” And the man they call Ballarat adds: “It is an individual sport that does not require you to be a ‘jock’, but you do need to be able to hold a heavy target rifle steady.” He exercises his upper body regularly by lifting weights.
According to Ragow, who owns several pistols, scatterguns and rifles, the rules are simple: “shoot as fast as possible while missing as few targets as possible.” And, she says, while shooting from various distances up to 300 feet (depending on the shooting category), the participants generally are either “slow but accurate, fast AND accurate or they just aim and hope.”
If this story tickles your trigger finger, you can join the ranks of these adventurers by visiting the website for SASS – http://www.sassnet.com . There you can learn of the benefits of membership, how to find local affiliates and a calendar of events. If you want to take up the sport for the first time, check out the Huntington Beach Firingline (firstname.lastname@example.org) range located at 17921 Jamestown Lane where you can rent firearms, practice hitting targets at the indoor range and get briefed on all the safety tips needed for sport shooting.
Les Goldberg, APR is an award-winning, experienced journalist and public relations practitioner. His firm, Les Goldberg Public Relations, is one of Southern California’s pioneer public relations agencies specializing in high technology and consumer electronics.
Throughout his career Les has shared his knowledge and experience as a part-time professor for the marketing and business schools at several Southern California universities, including UCI, Chapman University and California State Universities in Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles and Dominguez Hills.
Today, in addition to his agency and teaching responsibilities, Les is a columnist for senior publications, including his popular “The Gadget Geezer” column which appears in Senior Reporter, Not Born Yesterday, Life After 50, Examiner.com and OCActiveSeniors.com. As a full-time journalist, he was a staff writer for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Glendale News-Press, Culver City Star-News, Stars & Stripes Europe, OC Metro, OC Home & Outdoors and Digital Photographer.
Among the companies that have benefited from Les Goldberg’s brand of public relations include Doctors Telehealth Network, AST Research, Ashton-Tate, US Robotics, Phoenix Technologies, Odetics, MAI/Basic Four, American Home Theater, Inland Technologies; Freedom Innovations, Flex-Foot, Incline SoftWorks, USA Wireless Inc., D-Link Systems, Bell Micro, Seiko Instruments and Etak, Inc., a division of Sony.
Les holds a Certificate in Public Relations from UCLA, bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Northridge and accreditation (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America where he served two terms as president of the Orange County chapter and member of the PRSA National Board of Directors. A past winner of the chapter’s Distinguished Service Award, he has been frequently honored for his achievements and contributions to his profession and his community.
Visit Les’ site at www.LesGoldberg.com