“I’ve since gone through four generations of steadily improving short-stroke kits, each one getting better,” he says. “I currently use coil springs from Pioneer Guns Works, along with their firing pin extension and aluminum shell carrier for faster lock time, and a stainless steel magazine spring and follower to prevent rust that could result in feeding problems.”
Pearcey also can customize your 1873-style rifle, adding a short stroke kit, tuning the action and getting the trigger pull down to just under two pounds, as well as installing a flattop rear sight and Marble’s 3/32 bead front sight for better visibility. In addition, he can lighten the mainspring and add a nonslip leather lever wrapping and butt cover.
You can also buy a competition-ready short rifle from Cimarron, which offers its highly-finished Uberti 1873 Brush Popper 1973 Short Rifle, with optional leather “Butt Tamer” and Custom Comp sights by Marble’s. In addition, Taylor’s & Co. has its 1873 Comanchero, a short-stroked short rifle with leather-wrapped butt and lever plus slicked-up action and competition sights.
While it makes sense—and saves money in the long run—to buy the best competition rifle you can afford, that in itself will not make you a winner. It takes practice, both dry firing and live, and lots of it.
Hoglund currently fires 600 rounds a week, and when he was training for competition, he dry-fired for 15 minutes a day and worked on speed shooting by firing 6,000 rounds a month. The year Pearcey won the overall world championship he was practicing five to seven days a week, often twice a day, in between working out at the gym and reloading ammunition.
“How well you shoot is totally dependent on the time you put in,” he says. “A typical shooter interested in just shooting club matches and a few larger matches can have fun and do well by dry-firing once in a while and doing live-fire practice when they can. But if you want to win, you have to work hard on your worst skills, not your best. The difference between a great shooter and all the rest is that the great shooter recognizes his weaknesses and works on improving them.”
As for new shooters, Hoglund offers this advice: “Decide what it is you would like to do in cowboy shooting. For an activity and a weekend sport, it is great fun, with great people. Shoot at, and invest in, whatever level makes you comfortable. But if you want to win, you need to start with competitive and reliable equipment, reliable ammunition, and a lot of repetitive practice.”