About 1992 I began CAS at the Zia Rifle and Pistol Club. The matches were run by Cimarron Dean aka Dean Crawforth. We had no props, except a faux stagecoach we rarely used. We had only basic steel targets. We used tables for loading and barrels to stage weapons on and unloading. We had no shade. The scenarios of the time would not be appreciated by today’s shooters. Targets would be set at longer distances such as 25 yards for rifle and in scenarios totally unlike anything seen today. We shot four stages. We would average about eight or ten shooters at a match.
Shortly after my entry to the group “Jack Diamond” aka Doug Kunz built and brought our true, first shooting prop out to the range. A saloon. It had working batwing doors and two windows to shoot from. We used it about three times a year or so.
In about 1994 our first true competitive shooters “Smokey Hayes” aka Jean Hughes and “Augur Creek” aka Mike Hughes also began to run and set stages. We were still without more props and steel but they tried to build scenarios that they were competing against on the road at other matches. Soon Cimarron Dean became our first “President” and Smokey Hayes became our first “Vice-President”. We started to grow, a little bit, in numbers. On a good day we might have 15 shooters. Sometimes we would have enough to have two posses of about 10 shooters each.
Around 1995 or 1996 Smokey Hayes also began CAS at the Albuquerque City Shooting Range Park. He also affiliated our club into SASS with the members voting on “Rio Grande Renegades” as our name. We shot on the 100 yard/meter range next to the Range Office. We had no props. But we had shade under the awning when not shooting. On a good day we might have 12 or so shooters. We had tables for loading and unloading and tables and barrel tops for weapon staging in the scenarios. We had some steel and bought some more. The basic one target/one stand type of stuff. We also did have some horizontal poles with hanging chains for shotguns. Our club at the City Range had a membership of about 24 or so. As well matches were still held out at the Zia Rifle and Pistol Club by Cimarron Dean as well.
About late 2004 Smokey Hayes became ill with cancer and the new club President became Rancid Roy with Vice-President Augur Creek, and Secretary/Treasurer Jack Diamond. Smokey passed away from his cancer and the club lost a good man.
In early 2005 we found out that SASS, The Wild Bunch, and End of Trail was moving to New Mexico. The club officers said, “Oh Crap!” because we knew our club was going to grow quickly and we had nothing (as in nothing) to support such growth. Very little money, no props, and very little steel.
At roughly the same time the manager of the City Range offered to the Renegades the use of the two berms we are now located in. We were allowed to build storage and prop structures to our heart’s desire as long as they did not impact egress into the ranges and other shooting groups could use them as well. But we had no money for such stuff.
As well, when the club was informed of the potential move the President was told, “Not without shade we don’t!” So the club officers, with only about $300.00 in club money told the club members, “We don’t have a lot of money.”
A group of about 5 or 6 club members pooled together their funds and built our first storage building and shade structure, the “Ilfeld Mercantile” named after one of the largest mercantile businesses of western New Mexico history. It was named with the specific permission of the last surviving Ilfeld family member. What was supposed to be an awning for shade with the club’s small storage building of about 10 foot square attached behind it became a 25 foot square building with a front porch. With this building the club came alive with more construction activity. As well, the club was growing due to the arrival of SASS and End of Trail. By September 2005 the Rio Grande Renegades’ membership roll was 93 members.
We began more construction with the “Atchison, Topeka, Santa Fe, and Hayes City Railroad Station” being built followed by the shooting props of the Jail, Bank, a corral, and Jack Diamond’s Saloon. We also added the “Hayes City Headlight” newspaper office and the “Smokey Hayes” gunshop. By another year or so we went into the next berm to the east and built the Stage Station, and the Cantina. We also built the shooting props of “Elfego Baca’s Jacal” and the “Lincoln County Courthouse”.
For the first End of Trail in 2005 the Rio Grande Renegades provided the “man-and- woman-power” to build the Mission Church and the bridge behind it across the creek named “Dog Biter Creek” for our club member who dredged out the arroyo to create better drainage. Jack Diamond was personally responsible for taking the Wild Bunch in hand and re-directing and re-building their electrical systems for the first End of Trail at Founder's Ranch.
The Renegades, with their rapid growth in numbers and finances, began to buy more and better steel targets with a wider array of different types to make the scenarios more interesting, challenging, and comparable to what was being shot in other matches around the country and at End of Trail. As well, due to the proximity of End of Trail and the attraction of top national and international shooters to its events, our own club members became more savvy and competitive to the point that we were eventually able to boast top shooters nationally and internationally in our club membership.
Rancid Roy First CAS match circa 1992 Zia Gun Club