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Riding and revolvers return: Mounted shooting event is back at Beltrami County Fairgrounds

Ella Larson, 9, Blackduck, runs her horse Joker through a shooting pattern Thursday night at the Belrami County Fairgrounds practicing for the weekend’s mounted shooting events this weekend. The Blackduck Dental Clinic Raid on the Gold Mine will be Saturday and Sunday. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI -- Guns will be drawn and shots will be fired this weekend, but it will all be in good fun.

The Wild Rice Peacemakers, a cowboy mounted shooting club, will host the third annual Blackduck Dental Clinic Raid on the Gold Mine shooting competition this weekend at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds.

The two-day event will feature mounted shooting and cash prizes.

The competition involves competitors on horseback riding through a course to shoot a total of 10 balloon targets. Participants must shoot five of the balloons with a revolver before drawing a second revolver to shoot remaining targets. Competitors will advance in rounds depending on the time it takes to ride through the course and destroy all targets.

Kris Klasen, an event organizer, said one of the challenging aspects of the competition is the special patterns in which the balloons are set. There are 62 different patterns of balloons and the specific pattern a rider will encounter is not known until the day of the competition.

"It's pretty hard to practice them and know what it's going to be," she said.

Riders will need to be both fast and accurate during the course. Missed balloons come with a five-second penalty, knocked down barrels cost five seconds, and if a rider falls off the horse, a costly minute will be added to his or her time.

For adult competitions, there will be an overall prize jackpot for the fastest times. Riders do not have to enter into the jackpot, but for an extra $20 a competitor could have a chance to win up to $500 in prize money.

Klasen said in addition to the adult competitions there will also be classes for children. Participants younger than 12 can ride through the course and shoot the balloons with cap guns.

"(Twelve) and under the kids run the pattern and 11 and under, they don't even have to shoot they can just run the pattern," Klasen said. "(Twelve and older) shoot with cap guns so they're starting to learn the pattern and how to shoot."

According to Klasen, last year's event drew about 78 competitors and the same is expected this year. The event will be free and open to the public but only people who have shooting experience will be allowed to enter into the competition.

"You have to have chinks, which are chaps that cover your legs for protection, you have to wear a western shirt, cowboy boots, cowboy hat -- you need the holsters and the guns. It's a little bit to get set up," Klasen said.

The competition begins with a 9 a.m. registration time Saturday and the main match will begin at 10:30 a.m. On Sunday, a cowboy church will be held at the fairgrounds at 8 a.m. with the final match taking place at 10:30 a.m. Registration for the competition was $60 before Wednesday and $75 thereafter. Registration will be open up to an hour before the first match.

For more information, call Joe Waslaski at 556-9513 or Rachel Larson at 368-8509.