Canadian Open Fast Draw Championships

By MSN. of IES | Image: Andy Clark - Reuters
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The Canadian Open Fast Draw Championships is a competition that attracts gunslingers from across Canada and the United States.

The present-day Fast Draw competition was born from the Hollywood myth of the western gunfighter, and the idea is to draw a single action revolver from a holster, and cock, fire and hit a designated target in the shortest possible time. Here, Nicole Franks of Aldergrove fires her single action revolver while competing in the championships in Aldergrove, British Columbia on 21 July 2013.

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© Andy Clark - Reuters
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Blank-firing

No live ammunition is ever used, only blank cartridges or wax bullets. The targets are either a metal silhouette used with wax bullets or balloons that burst from the muzzle blast from the blank cartridges. Here, competitors clean and check their single action revolvers prior to the start of the championships.

© Andy Clark - Reuters
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Under starter's orders

The competition is all about speed. A light atop a timer signals the competitor when to fire and once the target is hit, it turns the timer off, measuring the shooter's speed to thousandths of a second. Here, competitors prepare to fire their single action revolvers into the air to signal the start of this year's championships.
 

© Andy Clark - Reuters
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Myth of the gunslinger

The terms "gunfighter" or "gunslinger" are actually film and literary terms of the 20th century and were never used in the old west. Here, James Weatherby, aged 80, of Aldergrove waits to compete. Weatherby has been competing in Fast Draw competitions for over 40 years.

© Andy Clark - Reuters
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Born on the silver screen

In the 1950s and early 1960s TV westerns were very popular with large audiences and the Hollywood studios began promoting some of their stars as the fastest guns. Here, Nicole Franks of Aldergrove wears a World Championship belt buckle along with her gun during the championships in Aldergrove. Franks has won multiple World Championships since she began competing in 2000.

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Quick and trick

The beginnings of today’s modern Fast Draw competition are credited to a stuntman, a trick shooter named Dee Woolem who designed a timer to measure the quick draws and in 1954 the first Fast Draw competition was held. Here, Nick "The Quick" Nica of Montreal, Quebec, draws and fires his single action revolver while competing.

© Andy Clark - Reuters
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Two day shoot-out

The competition is held over two days and attracts competitors from across Canada and the western United States. The event was held inside the boards of an outdoor, wintertime ice hockey rink. Hockey sticks and blades of steel replaced by cowboy boots and the smell of cordite. Here, a monogrammed gun belt and a pair of single action western style revolvers are seen at the Canadian Open Fast Draw Championships in Aldergrove.

© Andy Clark - Reuters
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Low on strength, high on speed

The competition attracts both men and women ranging in age from 15 to 80-years-old. Strength in Fast Draw plays a minor role. Quick reflexes and dexterity are a must and therefore the sport is as popular with both sexes. Here,  Bob Nielson, centre, of Loveland, Colorado, draws and fires his gun at a balloon target, set up inside the boards of a rink used for ice hockey in the winter.

© Andy Clark - Reuters
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Click of your fingers

The timing device automatically turns on a signal light, which starts a timer and clears the competitors to draw and fire. Depending upon the degree of target difficulty, the better shooters can record times from .250 to .400 of a second. Here, the names of the competitors along with their times are listed during the scoring.

© Andy Clark - Reuters
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Flash and bang

The balloon targets burst from the muzzle blast from the blank cartridges. Here, Frank Lawton of Deadwood, South Dakota fires his single action revolver after cocking the gun with his left hand during this year's championships.

© Andy Clark - Reuters
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Guns and glory

There were six women taking part in this year's competition, at least two of them have been World Champions more than once. Here, competitors wait for the timing clock to signal, so they can draw and fire.

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In the firing line

Frank Lawton, right, of Deadwood, South Dakota, fires his single action revolver after cocking the gun with his left hand during the championships.

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Crowning glory

Jon Rivera, centre of Hughson, California, and Nicole Franks, right of Aldergrove congratulate each other on becoming the men's and women's champions at this year's Canadian Fast Draw Championships.

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Not so serious

Though all the gunslingers taking part were in close competition for prize money and top honours it’s also a tight-knit group of friends with plenty of jokes between each other. Here, Frank Lawton of Deadwood, South Dakota fires his single action revolver.

© Andy Clark - Reuters
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Fastest-gun

Like in many competitions, ego and confidence play an important role in winning, so as one veteran quipped "Everybody here believes they are the fastest gun." Nick "The Quick" Nica of Montreal, Quebec, waits for the signal to draw and fire his single action revolver while competing in the Canadian Open Fast Draw Championships.