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Max Montana, SASS #23907

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About Max Montana, SASS #23907

  • Birthday 05/14/1954

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    23907 Life

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    Indianapolis, IN
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  1. I've not been on the Wire in a while, a looonnng while. I ventured here to find EOT scores that I missed at the awards being necessary to ride for home like the Pony Express to take care of my Maw who turned 90 while at EOT. What do I find instead? Folks praising Lassiter! My arch nemesis of the last 4 decades Ohhhh, the Pain! Have ya not seen the movie Hell to Pay? He's the guy that got his self kilt while flying across the saloon with guns blazing. That was a good day! So, we gotta talk about Lassiter. The Man in Black. I can do that. Settle in boys, this is gonna take a few Kilt Lifters and a snifter of Grangestone. It started in a saloon way back in '97 where I met my Pard and Mentor, Lucius, the one that showed me how to do it. Lent me his guns and took me to my first shoot out on the Modoc Rez, where I met ...the man in black. I wasn't even branded yet and became know as the Catman. Lucius pointed him out as he ran past me with his pard, Indy Kid close behind saying they was the two best on the Posse. I asked what category he was shooting and Lassiter said "Gunfighter", it wasn't an official category yet but that didn't matter. If the stage only calls for 5 shots we put 3 in one gun and two in the other. A real outlaw I could tell. That's what I wanna shoot I told Lucius and my days of being a Gunfighter began. It didn't go so well in the beginning with the 4 3/4 nickel .45's, marlin, & stoeger, drop loop holster, buckskin possibles bag for shells, and store bought 45 Colt ammo. Meanwhile, I'm watching the Man in Black with his .45 cavalry pistols, shiney '66, home made leather, and elastic shell belt (allowing him to pull up shells so they were easy to get out). Legal? I asked. Yep. By '98 I joined the SASS ranch dubbed as Max Montana #23907. Some 21,000 numbers behind Lassiter. Over the next 5-7 years Lucius and Max wore out two cabin tents camping all over the South and Midwest. Lassiter was at almost every one whuppin' on Max. We started sharing camp fires where he would work on my guns, give me tips, shelter from the rain, and eat our food(a small price for everything he did). Lassiter started talking about ideas he had for short stroking toggle guns. (before there were short stroke links or kits). One day he shows up and says "feel this". He short stroked his '66. I said. Do you need a guinea pig? It wasn't long before I had a nice shiny '66 all short stroked. Then we sat around the fire talking about how to shoot it. Next thing I know, Lassiter is handing me his pistols and saying "feel this". I remember the day well. Again, out on the Modoc Rez, another mentor, "that taught me everything I know", Deadwood Stan, comes up to me and whispers. "Max, I'd let Lassiter work on mah raffle, but I wouldn't let him work on mah pistols". However, it wasn't long before I had some of the slickest, lightest trigger .45's to go with that purdy '66 and the old '97 (from Deadwood) along with my new elastic shell belt and Rod Kibler leather (pard I met at a place called Mule Camp). I was getting better, but Lassiter was still wearing me out like it was me that kidnapped his sister Millie Ern. Somewhere in them early oughts, Lassiter shows up with .357 pistols. After swearing (ok he doesn't actually swear), he wouldn't change from .45's. He tells me, Max you won't believe the difference! "stand behind me, with your hands on my shoulders" he says. I'm thinking, "ok" "what if people see us"? He goes, "whadda ya feel"? I say, "besides your shoulders, nuthin!" "That's the point", he remarks. "Feel when I shoot .45's". By the time we shoot Hooten Old Town that year in Kentucky, I had 2nd gen Colt 7.5' barrel pistols giving them to Lassiter to "slick up" "make them like yours". It's not long before he comes to me and says, "Max feel this". The hammers only go back 3/4 the way of my Colt's. I give him my backup 5.5" 3rd Gens and he short strokes them. Long before short strokes were common. By this time, I learned it's not the equipment that allows you to win. It's practice. And more practice. Lassiter has a range out back of his barn. Down by the creek. In the late 90's he held a shoot every 5th saturday and an Ice shoot on Jan 1 every year. I never missed one. The cowboy beans and beef soup over the camp fire after wards was worth it, but the help and coaching was invaluable. If I got confused on a stage, i would freeze holding my pistols and Lassiter would talk me through it in my ear. I learned about his practice routine. He choreographed drills that he ran everyday with all four guns utilizing 450 rounds of ammo. I was jealous. I didn't have a range. My practice was every weekend going where Lassiter was and shooting against him. 2nd place GF was a way of life. On the phone on my way home, my mom's first question was always "was Lassiter there?" When I started going to Florida because I heard Fredrick Jackson Turner (World Champion Duelist) would be there, my mom would come and go watch Lassiter! And then It happened. I beat Lassiter! Michigan State. I don't remember the year. Guns of August that year invited Handlebar Doc from Texas to do a class. Two students. My pard Clyde and me. Up to that point I was doing a lot of experimenting with technique. Doc put it all in perspective. Gave me target times for various activities and movements. Smoothed my transitions. It just clicked. Lassiter still won Guns of August. But, the next week in Michigan, I was the squirrel that found the acorn and he had some hiccups. I didn't think Handlebar Doc would ever quit slapping me on the back at the awards. Lassiter was nice. Congratulatory. Even saying I deserved it. But, that didn't stop him from whupping me badly the next monthly. From the time I began, Lassiter has always been at the top of the game. He is a competitor. An honorable opponent. In another life he could have been a Samarui. The matchups of the time that were most memorable were against the likes of Cody Conahger, Walker Colt, and ....Easy Rider. I remember my first Mule Camp. First year Gunfighter was a category. I got to be on Easy's posse. He won it all. Lassiter was 2nd and I didn't make the podium. Persistence will win out. And over time, lots of time, lots of travel and lots of lead down range paid off with some good matches and many championships for the Man in Black. I remember a year at a place called Deer Creek. Lassiter pulls me into a remote corner stage before a match and says, look at this. He had one of the famous tomato stake pump rifles. "work the action" he says. Then after a course in Lightning mechanics he says he thinks he's got it figured out. And as a good side kick I say, "when your'e ready I'll be your guinea pig". It was a year and a half later, while driving back from Tombstone, I get a call from Lassiter. I've got it Max. Find a Lightning and I can make it work. It even slam fires like a '97! So, now I've got a super Lightning in my safe and haven't put in the time to make it supplant my lever. My lever guns are my best guns. I also haven't developed the "smithing" skills that I like to have for any gun that I shoot a lot. Same thing happened a few years later when he to a 10 gauge Chiappa '87 and honed it to be competitive and not just "style points'. I've got one of them too. But it takes muscle memory to shoot anything and I've not put in the time. I don't apologize for the length of this post. It makes up for the years I've not been on the wire. What started as something about Lassiter has become something about Cowboy Shooting to me and the person (one of many) that has had a great influence on me not just my shooting. I have a 20x24 picture of him shooting his lightning hanging in my house next to a picture of me (same size) shooting my lever gun. Lassiter doesn't drink, but when he visits the Alley Cat saloon I hang the picture with a "for Sale" sign on it. When I say I've slept with Lassiter he's quick to say 2 beds one room. We sat on the beds watching Hopalong Cassidy. He has the whole series on DVD in the original Hopalong lunch box! I now have the series, but not the lunch box. Lassiter gunsmithing goes past just making the guns work. One year in Florida, the recoil shield on one of my colts fell out. He welded it back and machined and polished it. Still works like always. Once my '97 came apart in two pieces. One in each hand just like in a Fredrick Jackson Turner song. That gun still runs today after Lassiter got finished with it. As we've aged of the years, and moved into age based categories, I look forward to the relief of when he moves into the next category being 3 years older than I. But it is he that I still compare myself too. Most recently Lassiter built two custom pistols for me to give to my 8 and 10 yo grandsons. A few years back when I was having trouble working my 2nd gen colts because of pain and stiffness in my hands, Lassiter suggested short stroking them. I decided instead to have him lower hammers on a pair of new model vaqueros. That began the project. Rugers didn't come with 7.5" barrels. So, Chili Pepper Pete from Michigan made me some stainless 7.5" octagon barrels. Lassiter mated them to the receivers, built brass blade sights, cut the rear notch, did the action work, short stroke, and lowered hammers. He set them up like colts. The shoot and feel like Colts. The difficult part was mating the ejector rod housing to the barrels which he did with a bead weld. I then had Jim Downing complete the project by total engraving to whatever extent he desired. My request was to put the name "Pops" on each of the backstraps and the name "Calvin" on the top barrel flat on the right gun and the name "Liam" on the top of the left gun. Somewhere in the processing and shipping the front sight of the Liam gun was bent. With great force, cracking the silver solder. Lassiter repaired it. I could tell when he saw its condition he wasn't sure it could be repaired. But it was. Lassiter lives the life of a cowboy. Truth, Justice, and the American Way! All the way. Here's a description of his name sake. Jim Lassiter. From the Zane Grey novel, Riders on the Purple Sage. "Lassiter is the typical Western cowboy. He lives a simple life out in the West and commits every action based on a sacred set of principles he holds. While he enjoys using weapons and is fairly talented at doing so, this horseback rider should not be mistaken as a violent man, and only uses his guns for justice." This past weekend I told some of my closest friends. If it weren't for the People, I probably wouldn't still be shooting cowboy. Many people. Especially Lassiter. It's become more expensive than ever. Preparation has become more difficult. Some elements have become redundant. I see new horizons to be encountered. I'm not going away. There are still things in CAS I want to experience. Places I've not been. So, If you don't see me at the usual, know that my thoughts are with you my Pards & Pardettes. Our trails will cross. Now, I've got to see how far behind Lassiter I was in this past Winter EOT. Vaya Con Dios, EOT 2022 - Lassiter 275.49 Max 276.80
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