The Mounted Shooters of America will once again turn the Payson Event Center into a scene out of the Old West.
It all happens July 1 and 2 when MSA members from around the state gather to compete in mounted shootouts reminiscent of 1800s gunfights and Tom Mix movies.
According to MSA President T.C. Thorstenson, mounted shooting is the fastest growing equestrian sport in America, attracting participants from all walks of life.
In the competition, which begins both days at 10 a.m., entrants must ride their horses through a predetermined course firing two revolvers, one at a time, at a series of colored balloon targets.
As quickly as the balloons burst, Payson teens -- hired by Thorstenson -- race into the arena to replace them.
The shoot winners are the riders who can negotiate the course in the fastest possible elapsed time without incurring penalties.
The riders do not know which of the 16 possible courses they will be required to ride prior to the event. The courses sport a variety of names such as Big Dice, Run-N-Gun, The Fish and Double Barrel-Double Gate.
In the Double Barrel-Double Gate, riders enter the arena and must ride through a gate, shoot a blue balloon then ride through a second gate and shoot another blue balloon. After rounding a barrel, the competitor is required to shoot five red balloons in succession before ending at the original start line.
Participants compete in go-arounds much like tie-down ropers do in professional rodeo. At the Payson competition, each rider will have three "go's" and there will be a single elimination extreme shoot-out at the conclusion of each day's events, Thorstenson said.
Judges assess penalties for missed targets, failure to follow the course, knocked over barrels and lost hats. MSA rules require participants to dress in the spirit of the Old West by wearing Western-style shirts, boots, hats and pistol holsters.
The mock revolvers -- each rider carries two -- must be replicas of pistols manufactured prior to 1898. Most are single-action Colts, Ruger Vaqueros or Smith & Wesson Schofields. The guns do not fire real bullets but bursts of gunpowder from the barrels that pop the balloons.
Riders compete for prize money in one of five pro classes based on their skills, past experiences and successes.
Each day of the competition, a Wild West show will be held at 3 p.m. Among those appearing will be Great Harvey Wallbanger, a performing buffalo, as well as cowboy specialty acts, Trick Rider and GunSpinner.
A $5 gate fee will be given to a local charity, Thorstenson said.
For more information call (480) 471-7422.