High noon. Sunday, April 15. The Florida Agricultural Museum on Old Kings Road.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly, the reigning champion. Florida Highway Patrol Cpl. Pete Young, the surliest man east of the Pecos. Volusia County Sheriff Mike Get-Me-Some-Scumbags Chitwood. And Putnam County Sheriff Homer Deloach, who brackets his name with “Gator” on one side and “The Third” on the other.
The four men will face off for the title of fastest lawman in the… well, here and there. Staly is intent on defending his 2017 title, when he bested Bunnell Police Chief Tom Foster and the Sheriff’s own Randy Doyle. This time Staly faces more competition and more attitude. Young, a long-time Bunnell lawman, is a traffic-homicide investigator who’s had his eyes on the sheriff’s badge from time to time and who’s been doing his share of smack-talking, readying his gear and his outfit for the occasion. Chitwood is certain to come armed with his usual arsenal of ego, bluster and Philly argot.
The event, part of the Agricultural Museum’s two-day Farm Days event, is a production of the Cowboy Fast Draw Association, and is designed to raise money: each lawman raises money for the charity of his choice. Last year the Sheriff’s Office raised over $9,000for the Sheriff’s charity, the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches. Staly serves on the organization’s board of directors, and has supported the charity for his entire career.
The Law Enforcement Shootout is a timed event using single action revolvers with wax bullets, shooting at metal targets, using western style cowboy gun belts and holsters. The men, who once again lucked out and are not facing competition from women, compete in elimination rounds. The target is 15 feet away and is almost 18 inches round, which is a bit smaller than last year but also closer, presumably in deference to the contestants’ proportional proximity to Medicare.
The single action .45 caliber guns and holsters are provided to the lawmen along with the wax ammunition unless the shooter has his own qualifying gun and holster. That’s the case with Staly, who last year acquired and began wearing a stetson hat and riding the occasional horse, but nowhere near sunsets. The shooters’ speed is measured electronically: a miss of course doesn’t register at all, a hit is measured by a timer and a lighting system built into the metal target. A light comes on, starting the timer, the timer stops the moment a vibration is sensed from a “bullet” strike. The winner is determined by the fastest time to a successful hit of course. Time is calculated to within 1,000th of a second.
We asked if the losers will be tarred and feathered. Staly’s office, alas, replied that no, they won’t. Losers “just don’t have bragging rights,” a spokesperson said. “This is a fun event for charity and we want the shooters to come back next year!”
If you’d like to make a donation, go here, select Campaign: “Where most needed” and under Additional Comments, add “Flagler Sheriff Fastest Gun Competition.” If you prefer a check, it can be made payable to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and dropped off or mailed to the Sheriff’s Operations Center at 901 E Moody Blvd, Bunnell. More information can be found here. This event coincides with the Eastern Territorial Championship being held at the Agricultural Museum that weekend.