Lefty Pete has steel in his eyes and lead at his fingertips as he calmly says, “I aim to shoot you or see you hang at Judge Parker’s convenience.” Blam…Blam! Blam! Blam! Lefty blasts a fusillade at targets that represent nefarious desperados. When the dust settles, he is the only man standing.
Welcome to Utah’s Wild West – where rootin’ tootin’ and six-shootin’ members of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) go to great lengths to preserve the Western traditions of dead-eye marksmanship and the camaraderie of the open range.
Lefty (aka Paul Peterson) heads up the Utah Territory Gunslingers. It is a group of SASS aficionados who hone their skills at a gun range constructed to resemble a western town. Located behind the Lee Kay Center in Magna, the town has 10 venues including the Treys and Aces Saloon, the Cattleman’s Bank, a mine shaft and boot hill.
SASS is a worldwide organization that includes 20 chapters in Utah. When members compete, they enter a venue, announce a starting phrase such as “Pour me a sarsaparilla,” and then shoot a rifle, two pistols and a shotgun at targets for time and accuracy. Using a lever-action Winchester, Lefty can fire 10 shots in six seconds.
When not dealing out lead poisoning, Lefty resides in Sugar House and is a plumber by trade. “I come for the shooting and stay for the people,” he says. SASS members hail from all walks of life, and some go to great lengths to create a Western persona. “I chose the look of a working cowboy. When I first heard about SASS I thought it was the silliest thing ever. I wasn’t going to play dress-up! Then I got my hands on some competition guns and I was hooked.” Since it is a family oriented activity, Lefty says you will see members dressed as saloon girls and young cowpokes as well. “It is the fastest growing and the safest of the shooting sports,” he says.
The town, affectionately known as Big Salty, has been a work in progress for four years, and was built by volunteers donating their time and a fistful of dollars. Next year it will host the state championships. No doubt the streets will then be filled with high plains drifters, all waiting for the approach of High Noon. §