The Orange Leader
Big Thicket Outlaws are invading Orangefield during the annual Christmas in Orangefield festival, December 14 at the Orangefield Cormier Museum, 99674 Farm to Market 105.
The Outlaws are Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) members associated with the Golden Triangle Gun Club, 7546 Erie Street, Beaumont. The group meets on the 3rd Saturday of each month for shooting matches while dressed in authentic 1800’s period clothing and shoot originals or reproduction firearms of the 1800’s. When they meet for re-enactments throughout the Golden Triangle region, blanks are used.
“We like to give a safety talk at each event,” Melvin Moss AKA No Name Mel said during a recent interview. “We have had parents thank us afterwards because we asked the kids to raise their hands if mom or dad has a gun in the house. Then we ask if they know where the gun is hidden. Usually at least half will raise their hands.”
Moss said that parents have told him that they were unaware the children knew where the gun in the house was hidden until they saw their child raise their hands.
The group has been a shooting group for 20 years but started re-enacting approximately ten years ago.
Earl Keith AKA Tejano, re-enactor coordinator, said the Sour Lake Downtown Posse was planning the Old Timers Day Festival in 2004 when someone had the idea for a gun fight re-enactment.
“My wife told them she knew a cowboy and he had lots of friends,” Keith said.
What started as a one time event has turned into the beginning of several, with the group participating in over 17 events, many of which are annual appearances, such at the Orangefield Cormier Museum, Cops for Kids at Claiborne West Park, Vidor, and Texas Travel Information Center, Orange.
The members have known each other most of their lives according to Keith.
“You can relive playing cowboys and Indians as a kid,” J.C Verde AKA Navajo Joe said. “Many 15-16 year olds do not know what a cowboy is, but nothing brings out the kid in you as cap guns.”
Keith was Verde’s boss at Mobil before they retired.
Re-enacting has turned into a family affair which includes grandchildren now.
“It was mostly guys when we started,” Keith said. “Then our wives joined us and then our kids. I have a grandson that joins us now.”
Membership requirements for the Golden Triangle Gun Club require an individual to be at least 18 years of age and in good standing with the National Rifle Association.
Every SASS member is required to select a shooting alias representative of a character or profession from the Old West or the western film genre according to the website.
“Earl Keith does not look like that kind of man,” Keith said as he pointed to a picture of himself dressed in character. “I never get to shoot anybody, kiss the pretty girl. I always die.”
Moss said that he enjoys doing this for the children.
“We will hand them playing cards with a hole in the middle with our autographs,” Moss said. “They always enjoy that. We use to have some play money we would hand out as well.”
Verde said he has enjoyed the people he has met through the events and the groups.
The Big Thicket Outlaws donate their time for the civic or charitable events in which they perform.
“We can’t do it for individuals,” Keith said. “But to help out a town or community. Anything for children is always worth it.”
Keith also said that many people think they are part of theater group.
Each member is responsible for all their gear, clothing and blanks.
“This is all done at our own expense,” Keith said. “Nothing is provided or furnished.”