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Mazzano --- an aftermath...

…by “Slim Fast” Matthias Recktenwald, Editor “VISIER”, Germany.

 The „ Days of Truth 2007“ are now over: Here are some impressions from the first CAS European Championship to be held in Italy – some of them from a personal point of view.
 
  
  
   
     Impressions from DOT in Mazzano:
 - upper left: Shooting an 1873 Lever Action
 - upper right: In the middle of it all — SASS-Boss "General U.S. Grant".
 - Center: Steel targets at the DoT.
 - Lower left: Mud in the camping area.
 - Lower right: Rino Chiappa and Alessandro Pietta.
 
 (Fotos + Collage: MSR)
   

    
Four introductory quotations:
 1) "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." (Mark Twain)
 2) "In this book,  weather will not be mentioned. This is an experimental effort to write a book without reference to weather." (more Mark Twain)
 3) "Always remember to include descriptions of the weather conditions in your goddamn book – weather is extremely important." (Ernest Hemingway)
 4) "The best way to distinguish between TV stations is by comparing their weather reports." (Woody Allen)

Water, water, water...
That was the one thing nobody had reckoned with: For seven weeks Italy had suffered from dry weather and under a heat wave of almost biblical proportions, and Lake Garda lost so much water that many feared it would completely dry up.
 
 But no sooner hat the trek of „Westerners“ gotten underway towards the south that it did happen: The rains came pouring down. The tribesmen of the Zuni Indians call the mighty messengers from heaven that bring the rain  "Shalako" – and come he did!
 
And Lombardia got really wet: In Verona the downpour disrupted, an open air opera performance of Verdi’s "Aida"- as I was told by a visitor, in Brescia the author of these pages was drenched to the skin despite appropriate clothing within the few steps it took to get himself from the shelter of the train station inside a taxi. And, in Mazzano, at the site of the "Days of Truth 2007" (DOT) the camping ground, a freshly mowed corn field, turned into ankle deep and slippery mud. The Klondike fields cannot have been worse in any given summer, and the deluge rapidly transformed the site with its many tents and caravans into something reminding strongly of a refugee camp.
 
 However, after a few days, the gods relented and the sun went back to work. This resulted in the areas drying up rather quickly but at the same time raised the humidity  to a level you might expect in a rain forest or a jungle camp….
 
 The inhabitants of the camp site took this all in their stride as true cowboys do - cum grano salis – as it were, there while resorting to all sorts of salty humor and involving a lot of poking fun at folks wading to or from their caravan etc.. And ,so you could see cowboys and cowgirls standing in muddy puddles up to their shins and sloshing away to get the sticky residue loose and washed away from their footwear. They also stood undaunted in inch deep water to shoot from the prescribed positions on the 16 Stages of this year’s "Days of Truth".



Who is who:
More than 200 competitors from 17 Nations had gathered in the small town of Mazzano near Brescia, Italy,  for this event. The largest group came from Germany, followed by cowboys from Austria and the Czech Republic. Shooters from Finland, the United Kingdom and Serbia made their debut at this great match that lasted from August 21st until August 25th 2007.
 


The match was organized by the Italian club OWSS (Old West Shooting Society) under its President and Range Master for the DOT Marte Zanette aka “Mar Tex”, SASS L # 33 700, and competently assisted by the Master Sponsors Rino Chiappa ( Armi Sport Chiappa) and Allesandro Piettà (F.ILLI Piettà). All under the surveillance and the watchful eye of Match-Director Thomas L. "Arizona Tom" Dobert. The event itself took place in an arena that left everybody satisfied: A low laying, grassy shooting range, encompassed by thick and high berms that surrounded the central area where the dealers, vendors and sutlers awaited their many customers.  



And right there – at the horses mouth so to speak – they all were: Every significant manufacturer of guns and equipment was there to see, to visit with and to speak to: Pedersoli, Chaparral Arms, Chiappa (Armi Sport), Piettà and Uberti all were represented with stands of their own, where the shooter could speak to the man or woman that made the guns that he or she shoots. Uberti even was present with a completely equipped maintenance and repair vehicle, complete with two master gunsmiths that did any and all repair work on the spot if possible – and for free!! There was nothing missing in the way of outfit or other paraphernalia for the avid western shooter either – garments galore at the stands of  Alexander Fidelak (“Don’t Go Naked”) and Ralf Hartmann (“Western Store”) and Erik Schoeneberger (“Der Kleine Westernladen”),(all from Germany) as well as J.C. Martin from France.

Ladies attire, including extraordinary fashion for daywear and for the ballroom, was presented by Jolene’s Collection from Berlin, Germany. Present as well – as always – leatherworker and -designer Uli "El Gaucho" Garbe with his mobile saddlery, who traveled from Poland to be with us in Italy.
 
 From the New World:
Besides visitors from Europe, some prominent faces from the US were also present at this largest European CAS Event this year: SASS-Boss Boyd Davis alias "General U.S. Grant", Jim Finch alias "Long Hunter" with his Shooting School and Eldon Penner alias "El Rod", one of the best US-Addresses for the Colt-Lightning-Rifle. The "General" aka Boyd Davis was excited and impressed by the match and the shooting range – he was so enchanted by the parade of the flags of the 17 nations during the opening ceremony that tears ran down his face as he rose to speak to the enraptured audience…



Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) in Europe was commented on by the „General“ with these words: "It’s like SASS in the US ten years ago – and I am sure there is a lot of potential here“. While he was at it, he also presented a number of CAS shooters who have been giving this Cowboy Action Shooting thing in Europe their all out efforts with their badges as SASS “Regulators” and commended them on their outstanding work.
 
The Shooting Range:

In semicircular circumference of the c-shaped shooting range there are a number of paths, brooklets crossed by wooden bridges, and the entire area is partitioned off by the berms that separated the 16 stages. All shooters hat easy access to their designated shooting bays for each day of the match (four per day). Expert stage design was done by “Mar Tex” aka Marte Zanette, who also doubled as Range Master for the event, all stages were revised by “Tex, SASS #4 and co-founder of SASS USA, who gave valuable advice to his Italian counterpart.



One of the many highlights was the food – the cowboys and cowgirls were absolutely flabbergasted by what those people managed to serve up in the huge tent time after time – and at all hours!! Italian food in large portions, cool beer and local wine (after the days shooting was over!!) as well as coffee and soft drinks – and watching “Mama” behind the counters keeping her troop of workers and cooks on their toes at all times...

Match Director Thomas L. Dobert was really impressed with the all out work force he witnessed on all of those days of the match, quote: “I have never had the pleasure of working with such an outstanding team before!” That team, headed by Rino Chiappa and Alessandro Pietta was present on the ranges every morning from 6 o’clock am until late in the night, which was regularly 10 or 11 pm every night.  
 
 Straight Shooting:
The match was presented on 16 fabulously prepared and eventful stages that presented much more in the way of decorations - and downright good ideas - than we have seen anywhere in Europe up to date. One of the favorites was a reactive steel target that – when hit by a shotgun blast – threw a clay pigeon high into the air to be subsequently shot at by the competitor.
 
All in all, the match went flawlessly, excepting a few minor mix-ups when shooters had not been initially registered correctly in their chosen categories. Four stages were designated to be shot each day, so that all posse’s were done with their sporting part of the day by about noontime, giving them ample time for other activities during the afternoon. Tom Dobert: "This was planned that way on purpose to let people who traveled here from the US or other distant parts of Europe have an opportunity to see the surrounding area and visit Italy – not only see and visit a shooting range! And, as far as gun manufacturers in Europe go, this is a definite “must see”!”

 
 
 Pierangelo Pedersoli, President of the company Davide Pedersoli & Cie added: "We live in an area here, that has one of the oldest traditions in gun making in all of Europe – all centered here in the Gardone Valley. And the Alps are not far away either, vying for the tourists attention with the ancient cities of Verona, Brescia, Bergamo and Venice, not to mention Lake Garda and Lake Iseo.”

 And the winners are...
 "Ray Heartless" aka Sander Koetsier from Sweden, followed closely by Germany’s top shooter "Westphalian Phil" aka Philipp Seibel — an exact turn-around from last years result in Philippsburg, Germany at the DOT 2006 held there.
 
 
Problems, problems...
So everything went well? No – not everything...:
 
Some shooters hat problems crossing the borders between Switzerland and Italy – despite having completed all paperwork well in advance. A number of competitors were compelled to make a “security deposit” to the amount of an estimated (!) ten percent of their guns value for the duration of their transit through Switzerland. The money was collected when entering the country, and was refunded when the cowboys exited the country at Chiasso, Italy, just an hour and a half later…

 After surpassing this obstacle – some of the travelers were confronted with another set of  bureaucratnics who decided that they (the shooters) were entering the EU (Italy) from a non-EU country (Switzerland), and therefore could be permitted to pass the checkpoint only with a maximum amount of three weapons per person – not the minimum of four guns habitually carried by CAS competitors! (…and already cleared for travel with the authorities!)

When one of these “commandante’s” was called at his station to question this practice, he replied verbatim: “We will proceed to do this for the rest of my  shift – if you want to speak to my superiors about this: Good luck – today is Sunday!!”
 These border patrols remained adamant in their demands – leaving the hapless shooters with only one (legal) way out: A 500 mile detour through Austria to cross the Alps via the Brenner Pass….


=> :“EU” stands for “Unified Europe“ => Yeah - you bet!!
 
 The legal side of the matter was absolutely clear all the time, as attorney-at-law Ms. Susanne Putsche emphasizes:  EU citizens may travel freely from one country to the next without hindrance as long as they are in possession of their local national permits for the weapons they carry, and can show a “European Firearms Pass”. Even when traveling from one country in the EU to another EU country while passing through a country (such as Switzerland or Norway) that is not a member of the EU. Such travel is considered as “being in transit”, and is possible without any hindrances whatsoever - as long as the aforesaid legal documents are carried by the owner of the guns he/she is transporting at all times. But, try arguing with a border guard while standing in a long line of motor vehicles on a hot sunny day.... As one senior police officer in Rom put it when confronted with the complaints against some of his men: “There is an idiot borne every minute of the day”!
 
 All of the Italian manufacturers and organizers of this great match pleaded with the angry shooters finally arriving after their long and strenuous drive to please not to be discouraged by this behavior, and to persist in advancing CAS throughout Europe and elsewhere. I myself would like to add that CAS is a sport that joins people together across borders and over (language) barriers. This is something much to valuable to sacrifice to a few bureaucratic idiots or other such nonsense. Let’s stick with Richard Boone’s silver screen figure Paladin: "Have gun, will travel".
 
 Cowboys in all countries – unite!:
All of these circumstances bring me to the conclusion that it is absolutely necessary for all Euro-CAS Shooters to unite in one powerful federation in order to be able to “pack enough punch” to be heard and thus step on the toes of some political representatives in Brussels. After all, those people there are at this time working on some pretty drastic resolutions pertaining to European gun laws – with the idea of further restrictions for all of us in the backs of their heads! In addition, such a federation would be just the thing to forward the discussions on leveling or lowering the restrictions on transit travel while attending matches and other shooting events with guns throughout Europe.


A good start in doing this has already been made with the registration of CASe (Cowboy Action Shooting Europe) in Vienna, Austria. Even though the projected unification and consolidation of the countries in Europe was stymied by certain proceedings in Mazzano for the time being, after some very heated debate on that issue, which forestalled a resolution.  This can surely put off a lot of people – most of all those of them that have put so much hard work into all of this – but it can also be seen from another standpoint altogether:  Tom Dobert put it this way: "Democracy at its best. There is no better way to reach a good and just decision.”
 
 My opinion:
No question about it, Tom Dobert is right. He certainly could and did not like the result he was presented with, after all the effort to reach the status quo. Even as it did not satisfy me, as an outside observer, in the least. (I am active “Western-Shooter” with the BDS in Germany and also a SASS member). For me the necessary path is clearly discernable: European CAS Shooters need a strong and representative body to protect their needs, voice their wishes, and promote their sport in Europe. The US based organization known as SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) cannot accomplish this in Europe in any way – no matter how hard they are willing to try. This is something the Euro-Buckaroos will have to do each for themselves. The necessary European Organization may not at any time try to get involved in, or influence local national legal bodies or existing shooters organizations. It must however be strong and unified enough to be a powerful speaker for the rights and interests of shooters all over the continent - and to be heard as such by the EU politicians in Brussels.



So, what are we waiting for??



Matthias S. Recktenwald

(aka "Slim Fast", SASS L # 33804, + BDS-Western-Stern No. 21)

Matthias S. Recktenwald
Redaktion VISIER
Chef vom Dienst
Tel. (02603) 5060-210
Fax (02603) 5060-202
matthias.recktenwald@vsmedien.de
  

Address:
Vogt-Schild Deutschland GmbH
Red. VISIER
z.H. Herrn M. S. Recktenwald
Wipsch 1
D-56130 Bad Ems                     

           

Und weil das Gesetz es befiehlt, auch dies:
Amtsgericht Koblenz HRB 7007
VAT REG NO DE 813 147 361
Steuer-Nr.
30/670/0566/2
Geschäftsführer: Dr. Christian Müller, Dirk Schönfeld



(Translation by Thomas L. Dobert

aka “Arizona Tom”, SASS L # 30 872, TG, + BDS – Western-Stern No.4


 
More impressions from DOT at Mazzano.



 

  

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