Hollywood’s Wild West inspires Fast Draw Competition

Competitors travel from all over to test their speed.
Competitors travel from all over to test their speed.(KOTA)
Published: May. 29, 2021 at 5:40 PM MDT|Updated: May. 29, 2021 at 5:41 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Western movies were a force to be reckoned with in the early to mid 50s. Captivation infected the public. Now, some live out the tales left in their wake.

The World Fast Draw Association was born.

Frank Laton, the Vice Chairman of the World Fast Draw Association, explains the origins of the gun sport.

“This was started in 1954. You know who started it? The movie stars. Every Radio station or TV station was saying their guy was the fastest, he’s the fastest. So, you had Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Clint Eastwood, Glenn Ford and they actually started this,” says Laton.

A competitor and member of the association, Rich Parmentier, was similarly inspired.

“I grew up in the 50s and the 60s, and watched Western Movies. Watching Matt Dillon and all of them just kind of rubbed off on me,” says Parmentier.

Everyone lines up and gets set. Then they have to wait what feels like a lifetime, but in reality, is just very long two to five seconds before drawing and shooting at a target where a light turns on.

“Your nerves is your worst enemy. When I get up there,” says Parmentier, “I kind of psych myself out. I’m not thinking about nothing but watching that light. I can’t wait until that light comes on. I don’t think about nothing else.”

Even though it’s competition, they’re a tight nit group.

“It’s friends. It’s a family. We’ve been together 10, 15, 20, 30 years,” says Laton, “but, it’s fun.”

People travel from all over the globe to shoot. Sometimes a complication will arise. The groups overwhelming friendliness and hospitality can sometimes gets you into trouble.

A lesson that Chairman of the World Fast Draw Association, Dan Qualls, learned personally.

“He [a fellow competitor] shows up without a gun, and so I loaned him mine. We took turns with my gun,” Qualls says grinning, “I’m not sure I’m going to loan it to him again, because he almost beat me with my own gun. That would be kind of embarrassing.”

The competition travels all over the globe and picks up members along the way who are eager to try their hand at being a western movie star.

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