- Associated Press - Monday, May 22, 2017

EL DORADO, Ark. (AP) - Beth Lemke is a cowboy action shooter who goes by the alias Antelope Ann.

Lemke and her husband have been shooting in cowboy action for four years this month. She has won numerous awards including 10th in the 2016 World Finals and 12th in the 2017 National Finals.

“This has been the most enjoyable experience, I think, of everything we have done together sport wise,” Lemke told the El Dorado News-Times (http://bit.ly/2qwCAXn ). “It is certainly the most competitive thing.”

Cowboy action shooting, also known as western action shooting, single action shooting or cowboy three-gun, is a competitive international shooting sport that started in the 1980s. Lemke is a member of the Single Action Shooting Society, along with 105,720 other shooters. She is also in the Ladies of Cowboy Action Shooting and the Doily Gang-Ladies, which teaches ladies to shoot.

She is part of the Jackson Hole Regulators Club, located in Louisiana, where she and her husband practice once a month.

When competing, each person has to act out a scenario. The scenes are set up like an old western town in the late 1800s, including saloons, banks, stores and many other props. The competitors begin their run by saying a line, which could be anything like, “You don’t stand no chance of robbing this bank,” or, “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.”

After saying their line, the buzzer will go off, the time will begin and they begin shooting the scenario.

They use pistols, shotguns and rifles to shoot the targets, which are 16x16 metal plates. Pistol targets are typically 7 to 10 yards out. The shotgun targets are usually 8 to 16 yards out and the rifle targets are 13 to 50 yards out, depending on the club with which you are shooting.

The competitors are graded on time - how long it took for them to shoot the scenario. If a target is missed, there is a five-second penalty, which means they will deduct five seconds from your time. If they shoot the scenario incorrectly, there is a 10-second penalty. There are also penalties for safety. For each safety penalty, there will be 10 seconds deducted.

“The goal is to shoot fast and shoot clean,” Lemke said.

All of this is done while the participants are wearing 1800s-style clothing. It is a required dress code that everyone must follow. Some examples of what you might see at a shoot include chaps, spurs, leather cuffs, vests, pocket watches with the full chain, knives, hats and boots.

Safety is the number one issue with the sport. Shooters take all precautions and make sure all guns are unloaded after a scenario is complete.

“When I’m finished with the stage, I’m directed to the unloading table, which is monitored by another shooter and I unload my pistol and run it so they can see that each chamber is empty,” Lemke said. “I make sure that my rifle is empty and I show them the end of my shot gun so they know my shotgun is empty.”

After emptying the guns, they are carefully placed in the gun cart where they remain until it’s time to shoot again.

Eye protection is required and ear protection is strongly advised.

Lemke’s pistols are Ruger brand, her rifle is a Winchester 1873, her shotgun as a SKB 20 gauge, and all have been souped up. “Our guns are what was typically used, well replicas of what was typically used to tame the old west,” she said.

There are many different classes and categories shooters can qualify for. Some are gender and aged based while some are based on styles of shooting.

Lemke’s class is Lady Forty-Niner, which means you have to be a lady who is 49 years of age or older.

“I ended up twelfth this year in my class,” Lemke said. “It wasn’t exactly where I wanted to finish, but I’m still pretty proud of that because we had 892 shooters, so that’s still a huge accomplishment.”

The shoot her and her husband just finished was the Texas Rifle Association State match, where she placed first.

Lemke and her husband are now preparing for their next match, which is in June in Edgewood, New Mexico. This meet is the world finals and there are usually 400 to 500 shooters, who all take the sport very seriously.

“I ended up finishing tenth last year and I hope to better that this year,” she said. “To say I’m tenth in the world, I’m pretty proud of that.”

Lemke and her husband lived in Phoenix, Arizona for 16 years before moving to El Dorado.

They learned about cowboy action shooting at a sportsman show in Phoenix. They came across the cowboy action shooting booth and were instantly intrigued.

After moving to El Dorado, they looked up the sport and they started gathering guns, found the closest club and the rest is history.

Outside of cowboy action shooting, Lemke enjoys photography. She has been doing photography for over 30 years and enjoys taking photos of nature.

Her and her husband are also bow hunters. Her husband came up with her alias, Antelope Ann, because of a hunting trip they took to Montana, where she got an antelope with her bow.

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Information from: El Dorado News-Times, http://www.eldoradonews.com

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