|Missouri Off Hand Association|
Missouri Off Hand History
Around a rendezvous campfire near Mokane, Missouri, several men sat discussing the day’s match scores. It was the fall of 1983 and another fine year of rendezvousing was coming to an end. An end of the year’s shooting brought the usual musings about who among them had best demonstrated the mountain man’s marksmanship. It was natural that each man should believe his abilities superior to those of his comrades/companions. But a lengthy discussion around a campfire did little to satisfy each competitor’s desire to hold the champion’s title. They needed a better way.
What if they simply recorded the scores from each rendezvous a man attended? Could they average those scores and name a champion? All agreed they could and would. Thus the Mid-Missouri Offhand Association was formed.
Original members were mountain men at heart and they were careful of “rule making” and “voting elections”. They believed that individual shooting clubs should continue holding rendezvous in the way they felt proper. They needed no ‘president’, no ‘secretary’. They did need a spokesman. They did need a scorekeeper. Big John McCray was chosen to carry the concerns of individuals back to the larger group for resolution. Don Taylor accepted the responsibility of scorekeeper. Big John continues to fulfill the role of spokesperson. Richard and Mary Dale took over as scorekeeper is 1986 and still do so today. With this somewhat formal organization came statewide growth and a need to change the group’s name to Missouri Off Hand Association.
The rendezvous of the middle 1980’s looked much different than those of today. Primitive camps and primitive dress were commonplace. Crossed straws, cut cards, and match sticks were the marksmen’s targets. Rattle boxes tested the marksmen’s mettle. Three dollars covered your entrance fee and bragging rights were won on scorecards touting 80% of the targets hit.
The 1990’s brought continued strength and stability to the Missouri Off Hand Association. Its popularity motivated mountain men from Kansas and Oklahoma to start Off Hand associations of their own. This paved the way for an interstate “World Series” shoot that hosted shooters from Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, and eventually Arkansas. None could ever quite match the skill of Missouri Mountain Mean and a Missouri Off Hand Association shooter would take home the first place prize every meet.
In the 1990’s local Off Hand shoots might draw 125 shooters. The larger rendezvous would draw many more. New millennium rendezvous have a different look. Travel trailers have replaced primitive camps. Steel clangers and paper have replaced the straws and playing cards. Spotting scopes tell of the marksman’s mettle. Ten dollars covers your entry fee and you best be putting up a near perfect score if you want to take home bragging rights.
A few of today’s Off Hand shooters can recall the heyday of the organization when year-end prizes were awarded at the Steelville shoots. Those mountain men and women, along with the new millennium shooters, will gather this fall at California’s range to rendezvous and name a champion.
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last update: 02/24/2019
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