The Story of Gunfighting: Replacing the sport of golf in American business

Gunfighting with the Great Harry Ballengee

Since I wrote my book The Gunfighter’s Guide to Business, it has provoked many questions about shooting and business, which I propose should replace golf as the recreation of industry.  I have a unique past where I have performed in Wild West events for many decades and spent time with those types of people, and it has been my rationale that American business should utilize American games.  It has worked great for me in my life, and I would like to share that with others as we rebuild our country from a few centuries of very turbulent history.  But instead of being discouraged by it, I think we should be proud of ourselves for surviving through all that we have, and an excellent way to celebrate that sentiment is through shooting sports.  For me, the Cowboy Fast Draw groups all over the United States are a wonderful place to start.  And in Ohio, we have the Ohio Fast Draw Association International, a great group of people.  For instance, in this article, I have included a few pictures of our event over Labor Day weekend in 2021.  As the rest of the world looked to be falling apart, all was great with us out in the middle of God’s country with American flags, good people, and lots of gunsmoke.  I also provided a little video; one is a match between myself and Harry Ballengee where Harry won at a distance of 15 feet.

Shooting Doubles in Fast Draw

I don’t mind showing a miss; many shooters do in fast draw from that distance.  In my video example, it’s kind of like a baseball pitch, down and away, missing from where I wanted to put it.  Typically, we don’t take many videos because nobody wants to show the other guy losing.  But Harry is a great shooter who has been doing fast draw for a long time, and I admire him quite a lot.  But for people thinking of getting into the sport, these videos are an excellent example of modern gunfighting.  And it’s OK to miss. What’s fun is figuring out how to perfect the sport so that you don’t miss it the next time.  Like golf, only it feels more like an American sport rather than something we inherited from Scotland.  I don’t feel like I should be wearing a kilt when shooting fast draw.  Wearing around a gun rig is a lot more satisfying. 

A Tight Game of Fractions of a Second

Oddly enough, my relationship with Harry goes back a long time.  When I was a little kid, around ten years old, I went to the LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park quite a lot, just down the road from my home.  I loved that place, and ironically I live now about as close to where it used to be as I can get to this day.  They had a Wild West town there that you had to take a boat to get to.  It felt like another world, and over there, they would have gunfights and stunt shows in that part of the park.  It was there that I developed a love of the Wild West that has lasted all of my life.    I loved those gunfights, and I wanted to grow up to be a gunfighter.  Always!  Well, guess who was the guy who ran all those stunt shows back then?  It was a 30 something, Harry Ballengee.  So it was just with a bit of irony some 40 years later that I was paired up against Harry at the Annie Oakley OFDAI event of 2021.  Harry is one of the best in the country, so he is a good guy to go up against if you want to get better.  So I don’t mind missing when going up against Harry.  Although I had plenty of good hits that day, it’s probably more critical for a new person to understand that missing is part of the learning process.  But you can get a sense of the history here and how long someone like Harry has been doing this kind of thing.  And how long I have been thinking about these things. 

Fast Draw With Good People

I get invited to play golf two or three times a week by someone, and I like the game. It’s the game of success in our country, we’ve adopted it, and I spend a whole chapter talking about golf in my new book.  But for me, it’s a matter of time.  Spending 3 or 4 hours on a golf course takes away from the time I’d instead be shooting.  And I have found that shooting, especially in fast draw events like the one shown here, does all the things that golf does, lowest score wins, metaphors for business life, all kinds of good stuff.  But if I have to pick one over the other, I’ll pick fast draw every time and often do.  Knowing the two histories, a gun rig costs about as much as a good pair of golf clubs, but I enjoy wearing the gun rig a lot more than lugging around a bunch of golf clubs.  It is my suggestion in The Gunfighter’s Guide to Business that serious businesspeople replace golf with gunfighting.  The gunfighting sport will make you a lot better businessperson.  Instead of all the talking and sucking up that goes on in golf, you’ll build better relationships with other gunfighters, and you’ll go away at the end of the day feeling more American than paying homage to some European sport. It’s like the difference between American football and European soccer. 

Tools of the Trade

There are gunfighting groups all over the United States. I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.  The equipment is easy to get, and small clubs could be set up at any local gun range.  I think people don’t know much about it because the world changed fast and left the code of the gunfighter behind a bit.  LeSourdsville Lake went out of business as amusement parks like Kings Island grew and took over the market.  That is the trajectory of gunfighting and golf.  Modern people think of gunfighting only in deadly terms defined by old westerns, not as a competitive sport.  But I can see that changing in the years to come as Trump’s Save America movement gains ground after all that we have seen in 2020 and 2021.  I tried to buy the LeSourdsville Lake property exclusively to bring back the Wild West stunt show Harry used to run all those years ago, but the owner wouldn’t sell it to me.  It turned into a Butler Tech property instead, which I think is a shame.  But in other ways, the gunfighter experience can be done anywhere, and that is where my mind is now.  Gunfighting is an enriching experience.  I think it’s possible to play golf and go gunfighting.  But if time is tight, which usually is, I will pick gunfighting every time.  I sort out a whole lot more problems with my personal life gunfighting than with golf.  So, I would recommend it to anyone thinking about self-improvement.  I would say at a time when Harry Ballengee was doing his Wild West show at LeSourdsville Lake in Butler County, Ohio; our nation handled things a lot better than they do today.  And I would offer a lot of that is due to the kinds of things that we thought about.  As a kid, I fell in love with the values of the Wild West primarily because of Harry’s stunt show.  It is an absolute honor to go shooting with him all these years later, and he is still the same good guy.  And one of the purposes of my Gunfighter’s Guide to Business is to share with other people that old amusement park, LeSourdsville Lake.  Even though I couldn’t buy it and restore it for a modern generation, there are different ways to bring those values back to our society.  And I think the best way is through the sport of fast draw.  It’s easy to get into, it costs about as much to play as golf does, but I will promise, it’s a lot cooler to work with guns and nice leather holsters than in swinging golf clubs and trying to appease a European sport.  I would say replace that sentiment with an American sport, born and raised in our culture, and only by us.

Serving as a Hand Judge

Rich Hoffman

The Gunfighter’s Guide to Business
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