‘Slingshot' Is A Cowboy Sharpshooter

PAYSON PEOPLE

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Malcolm Cathcart has won so many shooting competitions he doesn't even bother to hang up his buckles, medals and plaques anymore.

"I just throw them in a box," Cathcart said.

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Malcolm Cathcart

All the awards were won competing in Cowboy Action Shooting, a competition started 25 years ago by a group in southern California.

"They started the Single Action Shooting Society so they could shoot their single action revolvers and lever action rifles," Cathcart said. "The last few years it's been the fastest growing shooting sport in the world."

All the competitors use "handles" instead of their real names.

"We have a dentist in California that's Doc Holliday, my sister-in-law is Calamity Joan, a couple of other guys go by Silverado Sid and the Tasmanian Kid," he said. "I'm Slingshot."

Cathcart began competing in the Seniors category for shooters 60 and over. When he turned 70 in 2000, he changed to a category called Elder Statesmen.

"Some places they call us Super Seniors," he said with a laugh.

Shooters compete in a number of categories, including fast draw, black powder, cartridge, frontiersman, and a two-pistol competition called Cowboy Gunfighters. Besides all his individual category wins, Cathcart has twice earned All Around Cowboy honors in the Elder Statesmen category -- in 2000 and 2001.

"We shoot at metal targets with a penalty for a miss," he said. "My best time for 10 shots on 10 targets with a lever action rifle is about six seconds. That's usually faster than people shoot with an automatic."

An entire room in Cathcart's home is devoted to his gun collection, tucked safely away in a large vault, and to making his own ammunition.

"I shoot so much, I just can't afford to buy it," he said.

Cathcart was born in east Texas and grew up on a cotton farm.

After retiring from the Marine Corps in 1967, he went to Cal Poly Pomona where he learned the farrier's trade.

"Cal Poly has the famous Kellog Arabians, so some of the first horses I worked on were expensive Arabians," he said.

Cathcart spent the next three years shoeing horses throughout Orange County.

"It's the hardest work I ever did, because you get underneath a 1600-pound stud and start putting shoes on him and any little thing can make him come unglued," he said. "I was under one one time and a newspaper blew under him. He went straight up and when he came down I was someplace else."

Cathcart became very selective, only serving customers who had nice horses and who paid.

"Most of my clientele was made up of old cowboys and teenage girls," he said.

Cathcart also became an advocate for letting horses go shoeless, long before it became the in thing to do.

"They taught me that in 1968," he said. "The only reason to shoe a horse is if the hoof wears away faster than it grows. You shoe to stop the wear, like the horses that pull the coaches on the road, or horses that live in very rocky areas.

"Anybody who knows anything about a horse's foot knows that with an unshod foot the frog gets down on the ground," he said. "When the frog is pressed on it pumps the blood and that's very important. If a horse can go without shoes, it's much healthier for the feet."

After he left the horseshoeing business, Cathcart managed a company with 365 employees.

"It was martini lunches and everything and I didn't like it," he said. "So I got a job as a custodian in a middle school and I just loved it."

Cathcart and his wife discovered Payson in 1992 while visiting her sister who lived in the Valley. "They used to come up here and one Sunday after a match was over we drove up," he said. "We stayed at the Swiss Village Inn and we got there late because we took the long way through Camp Verde.

"They actually saved dinner for us. They treated us like relatives that they liked."

Before settling on his present house, Cathcart and his wife almost bought a place off the Control Road.

"But it was so far out my wife wouldn't have any part of it," he said. "It was a good thing, because it burned in the Dude Fire."

Payson's western heritage was also a big draw for Cathcart. "There's a lot of cowboy history here," he said. "You learn something new every day."

He's also a big rodeo fan, but only as a spectator. "I tried rodeoing when I was a kid in high school back in east Texas," he said. "I tried bull riding and I learned two things real quick -- to hit the ground running and that I wasn't cut out to be a cowboy."

He's also a member of the Tonto Rim Sports Club and shoots several times a week at the range the club manages near Round Valley. He doesn't mind lobbying the Forest Service to renew the lease on the facility that will expire in 2006.

"All the law enforcement agencies use it," he said. "If we lose that range there are going to be a lot of people out in the national forest slinging lead around."

And when a sharpshooter called ‘Slingshot' makes the case, it just might be prudent to pay attention.

Profile

Name: Malcolm "Slingshot" Cathcart

Occupation: Retired, cowboy action shooter.

Age: 73.

Birthplace: Bogota, Texas. It's near nothing, about halfway between Dallas and Texarkana.

Family: Wife, Marge. I have two boys and a girl. Marge has a boy and a girl.

Personal Motto: A man's word and a handshake is all you need. That's good enough for me.

Inspiration: There are so many: Patrick Henry, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison.

Greatest Feat: Being a state, national and world champion two years in a row.

Favorite Hobby: Shooting.

Three (or so) words that describe me best: I like to have fun, and everything I do, I like to do well.

I don't want to brag, but ... I am proud of what I do and how well I do it.

Person in history I'd most like to meet: Mark Twain.

Luxury Defined: For my wife and I to be able to do all the things we want to do. We enjoy life and that's about the biggest thing going.

Dream Vacation Spot: I dunno. Seen an awful lot of this country. I like every place I go.

Why Payson? Came up and saw the place and said, "Man, this is the place to live."

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