The Clackamas County Fair and Canby Rodeo are the highlights of the summer events calendar for many of the vendors, exhibitors, organizers, entertainers, operators and, of course, thousands of attendees who make it a success each year.
But Canby is often circled on the calendar by those on the pro rodeo circuit as well — and one of the big reasons for that is the highly anticipated Cowboy Shoot at the Canby Rod and Gun Club.
The event pairs rodeo cowboys, stock contractors, entertainers, announcers and other folks from the Canby Rodeo crew with club members for a friendly trap shooting competition that raises money for a local scholarship fund.
Now in its 11th year, the event appears to be a unique one on the national Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) circuit and has become famous in pro rodeo circles.
“It’s just a fun day,” longtime Canby Rodeo board member A.J. Swaim said. “It’s a pretty busy pace this time of year for the rodeo cowboys, so this gives all of them a nice break from the routine. Cowboys are usually outdoorsmen, too, so it fits in with what they enjoy doing.”
The shoot pairs 24 guests from the local and national rodeo scene with two dozen paying participants — typically, Rod and Gun Club members, retired rodeo pros who live locally and avid trap shooters.
The event is one that local club members tend to look forward to as well, Swaim said.
“It’s always fun,” he said. “You get some guys who don’t shoot much and some guys who shoot pretty well.”
Participants run through two rounds of 100, with the winners being those with the best cumulative scores at the end of the day. The competition is staged on Wednesday morning and usually takes around three to four hours to compete.
This year’s winners were St. Paul Rodeo board member Matt Weishoff and local plumbing contractor Brandon Ayres. The club donates the clays, guns, shells and the use of its facilities, while other sponsors cover lunch and other expenses.
The shoot is the Canby Rodeo Association’s largest fundraiser for its annual scholarship fund, which offers college and vocational scholarships of up to $2,500 to worthy local students, typically raising between $6,000 and $7,000.
“I used to rodeo back in the day and it was always nice to be able to have a break in your routine,” said Swaim, a National Finals Rodeo pro bull rider in the ’70s. “I thought it would be fun to give the cowboys that and be able to give back to our community.”
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