A Nurse with a Gun
Coolidge Youth Out-Shoots Them All for National Title
By REYNA PISAÑO, Staff Writer March 27, 2007
COOLIDGE - In the Disney movie "Toy Story," classic cowboy doll Woody demands that his quick-shooting rivals "Reach for the sky!" Twelve-year-old Wyatt Dobbs of Coolidge used the same no-holds-barred mentality in order to out-shoot his rivals during the Single Action Shooting Society's National Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting March 7-9 and used his marksmanship prowess to secure the first-place trophy.
Wyatt is in sixth grade at West School in Coolidge. He was one of competitors in the "Buckaroo" age group for marksmen 13 and under. The SASS National Championship was held at the Ben Avery Shooting Range near Carefree Highway in Phoenix. Wyatt was required to fire two six-shot revolvers, cowboy style, a Winchester rifle and a double-barrel coach gun during the three-day and 12-stage competition. His score was based on his time and his accuracy. If targets were missed, Wyatt was penalized, with the judges adding time to his score.
Wyatt also managed to snag first place in the Period Costume contest part of the competition. "I always dress up like that" for meets, he said. "My grandpa gave me the chaps, and he said, 'I think you're going to win first place in the costume contest hands down.'" The requirements for the costume competition mandated that each contestant have an authentic replica of 1870s period dress. Wyatt's costume included a hat, vest, boots, suspenders, chaps and two holstered six-shooters.
One of the most remarkable things about Wyatt's win is that he has only been shooting in competitions for the past year. In the Buckaroo age group at the National Championships, Wyatt, who competes under the shooting alias Dust Devil Wyatt, was responsible for firing off five shots per gun, per hand, followed by 10 rounds with the Winchester lever-action rifle, and followed up by four to six rounds with the double-barreled coach gun.
Steve Scott, his grandfather, is the one who encouraged him to enter competition. "He is a world-class shooter," said Scott, who is also a competition shooter. "We brought him out there to Marvin Wuertz's place, and started practicing with the Dusty Bunch."
Wyatt began shooting after being intrigued by the programs his grandfather brought home from his marksmanship competitions. "I would see it," he said, "and I just always thought, 'That looks fun, I should try that.
"Then, me and him (Scott), we headed over to Casa Grande, to this fellow's place named Marvin Wuertz, and we decided to check it out. The next thing you know, my grandpa was on the phone, ordering new guns for us."
Now that Wyatt has been shooting for about a year, the competition schedule is pleasing to him. "We usually have matches every other weekend. I'm in Cowboy Action Shooting, we shoot single-action revolvers, we shoot a rifle and a shotgun, and it's timed, and we dress up like old-time cowboys. Whoever gets the fastest time, wins."
Each competition weekend brings the same routine. "When we have a match," he said, "what we'll do is, I'll go over on Friday, and we'll clean our rifles and get everything prepared. Then on Saturday, my grandpa will get everything all ready, and come and pick me up, and we'll go. It's kind of a good idea to get there early, because then you get a chance to look over all the stages. We are usually a little early."
Nerves don't really play a role for Wyatt during competition any more. "I just have fun, and be safe. If I win, that's even better! But if I lose, it's all right.
"It's my first year, so I don't want to be all like, 'I want to win first, I've got to win first!' I don't want to do anything like that. I just want to be relaxed." When he is not shooting in structured competition, Wyatt still keeps his eye on the real prize - being able to out-shoot his grandpa.
"One of my friends keeps asking me, 'Did you beat him yet?' because he really wants me to beat my grandpa. Sometimes I can get a better score than him and sometimes he beats mine, but his times are a little faster and a little lower. But sometimes I can kind of get down there, to where our scores are kind of even. But he's always a little faster than me."
While other parts of Wyatt's life may not be as black and white as shooting a great group (like, the sixth grade for instance - the fact that they have to switch classes), "It's kind of complicated," he said. But he knows that each weekend brings a new blank target and another chance to compete.
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