Whilst not eating is cheating on Pilgrimage we managed to sneak a few hours in amongst the busy schedule to truly immerse ourselves in the Texan way of life. Think guns. Horses. Girls on horses. Girls on horses firing guns.
Dayton Gun Club & Range
For the price of a pint you can hire a fully automatic weapon and fill your boots. Add another $5 and you can purchase a pot of Tannerite, an explosive that detonates only when shot with a high velocity bullet. It explodes with such force that you can feel the shock wave on your chest from a good 25 metres away.
For a good few hours we got trigger happy with AKs, MKs, semi automatic hand guns, shot guns, you name it, all under the watchful eye of Bob, an 83-year-old US navy war veteran, who wore a .350 Magnum stuffed down the front of his pants, like a total boss.
For 3-weeks in March the huge NRG stadium, home to the Houston Texans American Football team, transforms into the incredible Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. To get a sense of how popular Rodeo is here in the Lone Star state, during the whole event more than 2.4m Stetson-wearing locals turn up to swill beer, buy steers worth up to $300,000 and watch cowboys try to stay attached to a bucking bronco to earn a $50,000 pay check. This was the finale day, and as we made our way from the car park in the pi£$ing down rain, all we could see was a tidal wave of denim and rhinestones pouring into the stadium…
We were there to hook up with ‘Outlaw Annie’ to give us the inside score into cowboy mounted shooting, a sport that she is crowned world champion.
This Rodeo discipline involves a rider attempt to shoot a series of 10 balloons whilst galloping around a route faster than AP McCoy, change guns halfway, and career over the finish in under 15 seconds.
Whilst originally bullets were used, modern times have required a more spectator-friendly approach so black gunpowder is used in its place, giving the sharp shooter a range of around 20’. The whole spectacle is served up with a gargantuan dollop of true yankee pomp to whip up the crowd into a whooping and hollering frenzy.
We spent the rest of the afternoon watching her new recruits before heading out to the huge outdoor food tent area where you could eat everything from mesquite-smoked giant bacon-wrapped turkey legs to authentic Cajun dishes.
Today was a Texan good. Guns. Girls on horses firing guns. And bacon. Because everything tastes better with bacon.