From the start of Zoot Shooters a couple of guys on the east coast have been following us closely. They were the first people to contact us outside of our Colorado mob. After exchanging a few emails, it was not long before they held their own AZSA match. Their history as written by Tom “Boiler Maker” follows…
Well it all started last year at Bill’s Gunsmith shop in Warwick R.I. A few of us were sitting around discussing the upcoming year of CAS. Our group that was running the Cowboy matches in R.I. was including a ”Wild Bunch” class based on the movie of the same name. This included using mil spec 1911s, Mausers, and double action revolvers of the turn of the century. Pretty much any pencil barreled revolver. Rifles included 1895 Winchesters, Springfield 1903s and Winchester .351 SLs. Then talk turned to how we could justify using a Thompson. At that point we were really pushing it. So myself or Bill (I don’t remember who exactly) said why don’t we just have a separate “Roaring 20s match”. Bill ran it by his club with no positive response.
Then Christmas Day 2008 Bill sent me a email that “Someone had beat us to it”. And showed the links to Zoot Shooters. Within a week Bill had ordered a Thompson Pistol. And I was on the hunt for one. But we needed a place to shoot. One club I belong to runs IDPA and USPSA so their calendar is pretty full and I didn’t get much interest there.
I approached my other club The Copicut Rifle Association. They gave me the go ahead to use the pistol range with two conditions. First I needed a NRA Certified Range Safety Officer to run it. And second no lead shot was allowed. So I signed up for a NRA RSO course in April. And we had intended the matches to be a three gun match so we had to scratch the third gun (shotgun).
So we were off and running. I bought a fedora on ebay and so I was committed. We looked over the range to figure out how to lay things out. Bill started designing the Capers and I began building props. Bill got targets and stands. Then Bob “The Joker”, another CAS, jumped in and helped out. He tried out Bill’s Thompson and was hooked. We’re already looking forward to a full schedule next year. We’re considering having a Lever Rifle class and a Semi Auto Rifle class.
We really didn’t know what to expect for a turnout. We got 9 shooters. Mostly CAS bringing their lever guns and 1911s or DA revolvers. Hot and humid, it was nasty but we had a great time nonetheless. By that time I had my Thompson, Joker and Bill had one. Well, Bill had two by then. And a couple more were there. It went well and we learned a few things that we could do better next time to run smoother. We got a write up in the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League newspaper.
We got 8 shooters this time. We were up against a SASS State Championship match the same day so we didn’t get the turnout we hoped for, but a couple shooters were new to Zoot Shooters. Boy, just put a Thompson in their hands and they want one! We ran four Capers with one including a snubbie or pocket pistol as a third gun. Everyone liked this so we will likely include snubbies more often. The Lever guns and revolver shooters held their own throughout. We did have a few hiccups with the Thompsons some of them traced to the ammo used. We did allow a few restarts or “Mulligans”. Shooters brought S&W revolvers, Winchester and Marlin rifles, Mausers and of course 1911s and Thompsons. I’ll let Bill give details on the guns. Who by the way, did not use the same gun twice.
Caper 1 was based on The St. Valentines Day. It was “stand and deliver” from behind a table.
Caper 2 was set in a “Speakeasy”. Shooters started behind a barricade, drew pistol and fired 5 shots, moved to the table and picked up the Thompson and engaged the targets, retrieved the pistol and moved to a mailbox and engaged those targets.
Caper 3 Was the Bonnie and Clyde Joplin MO shootout. Shooters started at the table and engaged targets with the Thompson, then five shots from the pistol, then move to the doorway and opened the door and engaged the targets with 5 shots from the pistol, return to the table and engage targets with the pocket pistol.
Caper 4 was raiding the moonshiners. Shooter engaged targets from a doorway with the Thompson, then moved to the whiskey barrel and engaged the targets once again with the Thompson and next moved to the table engaged target again with the Thompson. Finally drawing the pistol and engaged the targets and then move back to the doorway and re-engage the targets with 5 shots from the pistol.
Let me tell you about Bill since he won’t. Bill, also known as “Happy Trails” in CAS is a semi-retired gunsmith and innovator. His spring kits and performance components for Cowboy Action Guns are used by Cowboy Shooters and gunsmiths around the world. He’s hard at work on guns and mods for the Zoot Shoot guns. One of the first things he did was redesign the “third hand tool” for the Thompson Drums. He has quite a few gun projects planned. We’re extremely lucky to have a resident gunsmith involved in this. http://www.thesmithshop.com/
Tom “The Boilermaker”
But wait! Bill “The Fixer” aka “Happy Trails” does tell…
Our match was a Hoot. I’ve shot IPSC, IDPA, CAS, Bullseye, and Trap but Zoot Shooting is absolutely the best. The time period in history had just such a variety of guns it makes for great fun. As Boilermaker mentioned I used a different gun for each Caper. Just for the fun of it. I load the rifles with light “gallery” loads so velocities don’t go over 1400 FPS. The Winchester .351 Self Loader works well. Boilermaker has one also. We fitted 15 round mags to them but the mags only work well with 10 rounds. I also used my Remington Model 8 but at the moment it only holds 5 rounds. I’m working on building a removable magazine like some of the original Model 8s had so we can at least hold 10 rounds. Boilermaker has one of the Remington Model 81s so if I get the magazine to work he’ll have one also. As you probably know both of these type rifles were used in “Public Enemies” so we were period correct. By the way all of our guns are considered “loaners”. If any of the guys want to give anything a try they are more than welcome.
Also in the movie there was a Colt 1911 that replicated one that either Dillinger or Baby Face Nelson had used. It was a 1911 in .38 Super that had been converted to full auto and had an extended magazine and was fitted with a Thompson vertical foregrip. Well just like our Thompsons nowadays we have to live with 16” barrels so I built the next best thing to Baby Face’s “machine pistol”. I had a 1911 .45 ACP Gold Cup “safe queen” that I had built years ago for Bowling Pin Matches. A good candidate for a Baby Face gun. I fitted a 16” barrel and butt stock kit from Numrich Gun Parts. Bought a couple of 15 round mags and added rear sights from an old S&W Model 41 and a scrap ramped rifle front sight. The 1911 had a red dot on it so I removed that and used the same holes in the dust cover to mount a bracket to hold a Thompson vertical foregrip. The darn thing works great. It shoots like a super light weight Thompson. Kinda cool.
We found that the guys enjoyed using a snub nosed revolver or pocket pistol as a 3rd gun so we’ve written them into at least one Caper per match. By popular demand we’ll up that to 2 or 3 Capers for the October match. The Joker has a Caper with the snubbie in it from the original Godfather movie. He’s also planning on a Godfather Toll Booth machine-gunning Caper. Yehaa.
Another project I’ve been working on was to see if I could build something that could replicate a BAR. The ole BAR was an often used rifle in the 30s by both the good guys and bad guys. I figured I might take a Marlin Camp gun and build some wood to replicate the butt and forestock of a BAR. Add a dummy gas tube under the barrel coming out of the forestock and put some “side panels” on the replicate the BAR magazine. To get the barrel length a dummy sleeve barrel could be added. A small “hump” added to the top of the frame and we’d have a miniature BAR. I picked up the Marlin and started work on the wood and then ran into a good deal on a real Ohio Ordnance Semi-Auto BAR. I bought it and hope to use it at our October match. It comes in the A3 configuration of WW2 but I called Ohio Ordnance and sure enough they had a wood set for the 1918 WW1 version. That should dress it up close enough to the Clyde Barrow/John Dillinger version. (No, I’m not going to cut the barrel like Clyde did. His were cheaper J ). I still plan to finish the Marlin BAR for next year.
Bill “The Fixer”