by Ken Alexander
The Fifth Annual Desert Rendezvous in Ashcroft attracted several black powder enthusiasts on Oct. 6-7.
Hosted by the South Cariboo Sportsmen Association (SCSA), this year’s event saw 21 shooters compete in 17 events on reconstructed trails that were razed by the 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire. The fire caused the cancellation of last year’s annual Thanksgiving weekend event.
Co-organizer Ken Brown says the wildfire took out the main power pole, which had to be replaced. “We’ve had bad luck this whole year. Last year was bad, but this year was worse cost-wise.
“We had to replace our transformer and the pole by the clubhouse. We were fortunate we didn’t lose our clubhouse, because the fire went around it.”
Brown says they had to change their whole trail system. “With the [help of] volunteers, we replaced everything.”
With the flooding this year, they also had to make trail adjustments and put some wooden walkways over banks where floodwater washed away soil.
Brown says the numbers were down a bit this year because of the gloomy weather. However, people travelled quite a distance to compete at the Desert Rendezvous.
“We have people from Okotoks, Alberta, from Prince George, and one person from Ontario. There are people here from Vancouver Island, Chilliwack, and Salmon Arm – all over the place.”
Nanaimo resident Mike Bennie was one of the people who travelled to Ashcroft to attend the event. Born and raised in Williams Lake, Bennie has been competing in black powder events for 10 years and says he likes coming back to this area. “A fellow I worked with was into [black powder shooting] and got me interested.”
Bennie travels around the province to go to events, and this was his fourth trip to Ashcroft. He is Métis, and through the Métis Association in Nanaimo, he goes to schools and does demonstrations.
“We go into the schools and have the kids throwing tomahawks, and I have a big fur trade display I put on with furs, traps, and guns.”
Noting he makes tomahawks and knives, Bennie says the students throw lighter tomahawks. “We go over safety first, let them handle the tomahawks and get them throwing.” He can see the sparkle in their eyes, “especially when it sticks.”
Bennie says he enjoys the black powder shoots and seeing the friends he’s made over the years.
Brown notes that black powder shoots are held at least once a month on weekends throughout the province. He adds that participants are usually dressed up in historical garb for the Desert Rendezvous, but the day’s cold weather had many competitors dressed for warmth. “There was some great shooting and good camaraderie.”
Anyone who wants more information about the SCSA can call Brown at (250) 453-9415.
Rifle Trail men: first, Mike Bennie; second, Merv Kovach; third, Bill Sainsbury
Rifle Trail women: first, Donna Sainsbury; second, Judy Marshall; third, Irene Roggensack
Rifle Trail junior: first, Dallas Rooy
Smooth Bore Trail men: first, Ian Marshall; second, Lloyd Cushway; third, Mike Brown
Flintlock Trail men: first, David Wright; second, Ian Marshall; third, Chris Buckley
Hawk and Knife men: first, Ian Marshall; second, Mike Bennie; third, David Wright
Hawk and Knife women: first, Judy Marshall; second, Y-Von Clarke; third, Donna Sainsbury
Hawk and Knife junior: Dallas Rooy
Pistol men: first, Dave Ford; second, Ian Marshall; third, David Wright
Pistol women: first, Donna Sainsbury; second, Y-Von Clarke; third, Judy Marshall
Shotgun men: first, Mike Brown; second, Ian Marshall; third, Dallas Rooy
Shotgun women: first, Y-Von Clarke; second, Judy Marshall
Archery men: first, Mike Bennie; second, Ian Marshall; third, Panoggie Roggensack
Archery women: first, Judy Marshall; second, Y-Von Clarke
Archery junior: first, Dallas Rooy
Cartridge (Quigley) men: first, Mike Brown, second, Ian Marshall; third, David Wright
Muzzleloader (Quigley) men: first, Mike Bennie; second, Bill Sainsbury; third, Chris Buckley
Muzzleloader (Quigley) women: first, Judy Marshall; second, Irene Roggensack; third, Donna Sainsbury
Oldest firearm: Bill Sainsbury
Top Mountain man: Ian Marshall (62 points)
Top Mountain woman: Judy Marshall (34 points)