The Greene County Regulators are a group of men and women who never outgrew dressing up and playing cowboy.
However, they did manage to outgrow their old shooting range.
Since September, the Regulators have held monthly Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) matches at a new Hawkins County facility located off Highway 66 halfway between Rogersville and Bulls Gap.
Despite crossing the county line, they're still the Greene County Regulators.
"You don't change your name if you move houses. So we decided to leave it exactly the way it was," said club officer Robert Price.
Among cowboy shooters, once you make a name for yourself, you keep it. The Greene County Regulators is affiliated with the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), of which all the members possess western aliases. "Evil Roy" is arguably the nation's best-known cowboy shooter. Even a greenhorn like myself knows who Evil Roy is (even though I couldn't tell you who Evil Roy really is). Price's SASS alias is "Mort Dooley."
The club held its first CAS match at the Tac 2 range near Greeneville in September 2002. The increasing popularity of the Regulators' monthly shoots inspired the club to build its own dedicated CAS facility.
"Before, we were pretty much leasing it for one day a month. Now we have more space, better parking and better access. We can go there to work and build what we want," said Price, who has competed in national SASS events.
"We've got 60 acres of a 300-acre farm to work with, so that's quite a bit better. It's much prettier than the other place. Nice and green, too."
A CAS facility is one part shooting range, one part western movie set. One of the club's recently completed stage fronts resembles the facade of a full-sized frontier building, replete with authentic doors and windows.
While blazing away at steel targets through doors and windows with two single-action revolvers, a shotgun and a lever-action rifle sounds like dangerous mayhem, a CAS match is anything but. Each stage is governed by strict rules of engagement. Every shooter is supervised by a range officer who will bring the action to a screeching halt the second a potential safety violation or equipment malfunction is observed.
The Regulators attract costumed cowboys and cowgirls from as far away as Knoxville and Asheville, as well as quite a few from Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. Price noted that he's been seeing an average of two new shooters a month.
The family-oriented nature of the sport is a big selling point. Even the train robbers and dry gulchers you meet at CAS matches tend to be nicer than average folks.
The club is holding a practice session at the range next Saturday that should prove an excellent opportunity for curious newcomers to investigate the sport.
For more information and directions to the range, call Price at (423) 357-8464 or visit the club's Web site at greenecountyregulators.com.