Not every competition is based solely on the skill of the participant. Sometimes it takes skill, knowledge and some imagination to become a champion — just ask Lance Oster and he can tell you all about it.
The 13-year-old Sacred Heart student won the state and national Western Heritage Cowboy Shooting this summer in a competition in Branson as a member of the Young Sportsman in Lafayette County 4-H Club.
“The Western Heritage Project combines a comprehensive study of the Old West with the fastest growing shooting sports discipline in the world-western action shooting,” the Western Heritage event website states. “Their purpose of the project is to provide an avenue for 4-H members and adult leaders to experience the lifestyles and cultures of the Old West from the period of around 1860-1900 through a living history approach to learning while instilling the concepts of gun safety and personal responsibility.”
“I was really going into the event blind,” Oster said. “My family doesn’t really shoot guns so I’m not really sure where it came from but I really love everything about the event, especially the shooting portion.”
Oster is the son of Kathi Oster and Brian Smith, of Sedalia, and Jim Oster, of Lee’s Summit.
Consisting of three different stages, participants are asked to shoot three replica guns of the time, dress in Old West clothing, complete an interview, and are tested on their knowledge of U.S. history and period weapons.
“The shooting was worth 50 percent of the total score,” Kathi Oster said. “The clothing and interview are 25 percent and the Old West Knowledge Test is the final 25 percent of the score.
“Last year was the first year Lance competed in the event and he shot the entire event clean, which is quite an accomplishment for his first year,” she added with a mother’s pride. “This year he shot seven of the 10 events clean and only had four total misses.”
In the shooting portion of the competition, Oster shot a replica Rim fire lever action rifle, Rim fire revolver and shotgun.
He and the other contestants were judged on both their speed and the accuracy of their shooting.
“I have a friend whose dad is a police officer and one day he was talking to us and I think that was all it took to get me hooked,” Lance Oster said. “I practice once a month at the Rod and Gun Club and at Black Dawn in Sedalia but most of the time I practice by shooting at tin cans with a BB gun.
“I don’t own any guns like the ones I used at the competition but I have been studying about the older models that were used because that is part of the test that we had to take,” he said. “It was a written test that had a lot of historical questions but you also had to be able to identify guns and tell the period they were from.”
At both the national and state competitions that were hosted at the same event Aug. 1-4, Oster placed first in both the shooting events and the written test. He placed second in the state in his interview and period costume and third in the national event.
“We had to create a character and tell a story about the person we created,” he said. “I became ‘Lead Slinger Lance,’ and I made up the story that I was a trail boss who was moving cattle to Springfield.
“I had a really cool hat and I told them I won it in a game of farrow,” he added. “I got all my clothes at a store called James Country Mercantile.”
Lance Oster added that he plans to develop the story of Lance, calling it a “work in progress” that he will refine in the next couple of years.
“I want to keep competing in this as long as I can,” Lance Oster said. “Next year the national competition is in Montana and I plan to be there.
“Pettis County doesn’t offer this so I compete for Lafayette County where I am a member of that 4-H group,” he added. “It’s only my second year and I think the competition has only been around for about six years but more and more counties and states are becoming involved with this so I think it’s just going to get even better in the future.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.