The Saratoga Sun -

A taste of life in the Old West


Avid outdoorsmen can experience American Old West-style shooting and throwing competition at the Sierra Madre Muzzleloaders Mountain Man Rendezvous.

The all-ages, Old West-themed event is sponsored by the Sierra Madre Muzzleloader Rifle Club, and runs July 26-28 in Encampment. The public is invited to all events and activities, and kids’ games take place during all three days.

“I have seen little kids from 11 years old up to people in their 80s participate,” said Josh Saier, President of the Sierra Madre Muzzleloader Rifle Club. “Fortunately we have been pretty steady with around 100 participants who come each year.”

Out of those who participate, Saier said he has seen people from all over Wyoming and even from as far as Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon and Alaska, who had either passed through or heard about the event. He said the idea for the rendezvous was to give participants an idea of what life was like for mountain men during the American Old West period.

“They have been doing this since the 80s in different places, but started doing it in Encampment since 2001, I believe,” Saier said. “We’re just trying to recreate what a typical mountain man rendezvous would be back in the day, and just really basically have fun. We don’t stick to any stipulations as far as period dress or camps or anything like that, it’s just however you want to be as long as you show up. Even if you just want to participate in a few events or all the events, we’ll take care of you right there.”

According to the event flyer, events include the rifle shoot, pistol shoot, knife throw, hawk throw, frying pan throw, split ball, men’s discus and fun target shoot, and a stew pot dinner and council fire take place Saturday evening. The kids knife throw at 3 p.m. and adult knife throw at 5 p.m. are the only events Friday, and an ending awards ceremony takes place at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Saier said attendees can also camp out on site for free over the three days in “modern camps,” which include campers, and “primitive camps,” which include traditional tipis and tents, he said.

“We have separate areas where they set them up, but that area is so small that everyone is kind of together anyway,” he said. “Primitive stuff is more along a ‘trader’s row,’ where the traders will set up their trade goods and everything for sale in front of their tents and blankets.”

Saier also said traders will be there to sell period era tomahawks, knives, leather goods, beaded bags and other materials.

“Anything basically that is period correct for that time, they’ll have on sale,” he said. “Blacksmiths there will also forge anything out of iron, like custom stuff, and they’ll show off things they’ve made prior and brought there.”

For the separate competitions, the groups are broken up by age and gender, with adult shooters being 16 and older; the junior age group is 12 to 16; and the sub-junior age group is 11 and younger. The event flyer also noted an “Old Timers Shoot” for those 55 and older.

As an all-ages event, Saier said kids will have cross-sticks to shoot off of, and be able to participate in other activities while not competing.

“We have a whole separate area for the kids, and when the adults are shooting, the kids will be off learning primitive games and craftmaking and other things,” he said. “Their time to shoot comes starts at noon, they’ll come in and the adults will take a break. Once they’re done shooting, they’ll go off and do some more games and things like that for the whole weekend. As long as they are careful and responsible, and can hold and shoot a gun or reach the trigger, kids can compete.”

Saier also thanked the towns of Saratoga and Encampment for their business support and land donation for the three days.

“Saratoga and Encampment are huge supporters of it,” he said. “They’re the ones who make it happen and give us the prizes and funding to put it on, and a lot of businesses in town donate to this. I also can’t ever thank Encampment e


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