The Quigley Buffalo Rifle Match


The way I understand the story, after watching the 1990 Tom Selleck adventure Quigley Down Under, a group of shooters at the Forsyth Rifle and Pistol Club decided to hold a "Quiqley Shoot" over the Father's Day weekend. Using a steel silhouette of a bucket as a "gong" target several hundred yards away, they shot black powder cartridge rifles of the type used in the movie and in the days of the original buffalo hunts of the late 1800's. The match was such a success, that they decided to do it again the following year. And the following year...

2009 was the 19th year of the Quigley Shoot, as it is often referred to, and was the largest so far. There were 629 registered shooters, along with friends, family and a small number of family dogs. The match is held at the A.G. Lee Ranch, 8 miles outside of Forsyth, Montana. Camping is free, and there is plenty of space. It is billed as "The largest rifle shooting event in eastern Montana since the Custer Massacre."

I have been shooting the Quigley for the past four years, and so no reason not to keep doing so. I used to be quite competitive in small-bore rifle, rising to the lower ranks of national competition, even shooting the Olympic Tryouts in 1984. I can honestly say that I have shot in a fair number of matches over the years, and the Quigley is simply the most fun I have ever had at a shooting match of any kind.

Period dress is encouraged, but by no means required.  Many of the buffalo rifle shooters are also involved in Cowboy Action Shooting, a sport which does require period dress, so there are a fair number of people in frontier garb, from Civil War uniforms to the Spanish-influenced outfits of the southwest. 

Many of the rifles used are over 100 years old, from the 1870's to the turn of the century, and many are modern reproductions. Most are single shot, though there are few lever guns as well. The match calls for iron sights, though there are a fair number of folks using telescopic sights correct for the era (iron sights are required to actually win the match, though).

The match is made up of 48 shots, 8 shots each at 6 different targets. The furthest is a steel buffalo at 800 yards and the nearest is the "bucket" at 350 yards. The bucket is shot offhand, while the others are shot sitting, with the rifle barrel on "cross-sticks", as buffalo hunters would have employed.  A few intrepid souls shoot the entire match offhand, and there is a special award class for them as well. There are classes for juniors, seniors, a "White Buffalo" class for shooters over 72, and "Small Fry" for shooters under 9. The high-scoring woman is given the "Crazy Cora" award (watch the movie).

After the awards, final drawings are made for the several rifles donated for the event, traditionally by Pedersoli and Shiloh Sharps, one of which is reserved for the Junior shooters.

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