The highly popular Shoot for the Heart seminars have hosted many intriguing figures, but probably none more fascinating than Wes Walton, the man set to be the guest today, Feb. 26 at Mountain Bible Church.
Walton is a long time member of the Cowboy Mounted Shoot Association (CMSA) and in 2010 was inducted into the organization’s hall of fame.
In 1996, Walton helped form the Wyoming Rough Riders, the state’s first cowboy mounted shooting club.
Just three years later at Norco, Calif. he won the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) world championships and later joined a Wild West tribute show to Roy Rogers.
In Scottsdale in 1999, he captured the CMSA’s World points Championship and was invited to join “Cowboys, Heroes and Friends” a production held at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede in Branson, Mo.
At Walton’s induction into the CMSA Hall of Fame, he told the audience, “God has granted me all the desires of my heart. I’ve fulfilled every dream and experienced more life and adventures than most.
“The buckles have paled compared to the hungry eyes of my friends I see on Sunday mornings.”
While Payson has hosted cowboy shoots in the past, some are unfamiliar with the sport.
Cowboy shooting, CMSA officials say, “Is the fastest growing equestrian sport in the nation. Mounted contestants compete in this fast action timed event using two .45 caliber single action revolvers each loaded with five rounds of specially prepared blank ammunition.”
In the competitions, shooters are assigned to different divisions, from novice to the seasoned professional, based on ability.
At 5:30 p.m. today, Tuesday, just prior to Walton’s appearance at Shoot for the Heart, cowboy beans and cornbread will be served free of charge.
Door prizes will also be given.
Shoot for the Heart was jumpstarted in January 2010 by former Payson High School teacher and coach Dennis Pirch and others.
At the time, few could have predicted the seminars would enjoy such success drawing throngs of people to every presentation.
Pirch remembers the original concept behind Shoot for the Heart was to provide “outdoor recreation time with an emphasis on hunting and fishing in God’s creation.”
As a part time outdoor columnist for the Payson Roundup, Pirch ends most of his chronicles, which appear mostly in Friday editions, with something similar to, “This weekend enjoy the outdoors of the Rim Country — God’s creation.”
Shoot for the Heart is also to help families who love the outdoors becomes better hunters and fishermen, and to build relationships with others who share the same emphasis.
For more about Shoot for the Heart, call Mountain Bible Church at (928) 472-7800.
Payson High Athletic Director Don Heizer is on a mission to find sufficient baseball and softball umpires for the 2013 season.
“Right now, we don’t have the officials we need,” Heizer said late last week.
Many of the umpires needed in Payson will be for junior varsity games, of which there will be about 11 each in both baseball and softball. Most games are played on weekday afternoons after school is dismissed.
Of course, umpires can also be asked to travel to other nearby towns and cities to officiate prep games.
The pay for regular season games, $25 for non-varsity games and $50 for varsity, is set by the Arizona Interscholastic Association. Umpires can also receive mileage fees for travel to and from games.
Umpires, however, are responsible for buying their own officiating uniforms.
Around the state, especially in the urban areas, some umpires are limited to only a few games each season. But in the Rim Country, Heizer emphasizes, there will be ample opportunities to officiate both baseball and softball.
To umpire, candidates must be 18 years of age, not in high school, and register with the AIA.
They must also have a strong knowledge of baseball and softball and, probably most importantly, personal integrity.
AIA officials stress that high school coaches and athletes consider games the most important thing occurring in their lives at the time, which umpires — if their goal is to be successful — must also do. Umpires must also have a healthy dose of self-confidence and a strong presence on the field to go along with a love of athletics and young people.
While umpiring and officiating can be a rewarding profession, it is not for everyone and requires some personal adjustments, mostly because quick decisions must be made and they often don’t please everybody.
The AIA points out that umpires are hugely important because they play a vital role in the success of interscholastic athletic programs and the student athletes they serve.
For more information, call Heizer at (928) 474-2233 or go online to the AIA website at www.aiaonline.org/officials/become_official.php.