Off and Gunnin'

Action shooting clubs are a blast all over the Midwest. Lock and load, baby!

The couple attended their first cowboy shoot in 1997, and now they travel each weekend -- sometimes hundreds of miles -- to attend matches throughout Missouri and Illinois. Recently SASS named the Halls "regulators" and commissioned them to spread the gospel of the organization.

But even these stalwarts can't help a little candid self-reflection from time to time. Long after the members of their posse have packed their wagons and headed off to their minivans and SUVs, Bill and Ellie stand together in an empty ghost town. It is only then that they briefly ease the reins on the whole cowboy shtick.

"Yeah," says Bill. "It's hard to take yourself too seriously in this get-up."

It's in quiet moments such as these, when the smoke has finally lifted, that even the most ardent of action shooters expresses similar humility.

"Sure it's not reality," concedes Rick Hebert between rounds at Hooters. "Truth is, anytime it's me versus a dozen guys with guns, I'd be running away as fast as I can, shooting over my shoulder."

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