We expect bankers to be good with money, that’s a given. We expect executive vice presidents of banks to be good with money and business savvy. That’s another given. What we might not expect, however, is for an executive vice president of a bank to be so darn good with a gun. That one probably doesn’t register with most folks, but if you do business at Texas Star Bank in Anna that’s what you get.
Duane Hayes knows his business, helping lead the highly successful Texas Star Bank, along with his father Buddy, since 2001. Sitting behind the wood desk in his nicely appointed office at the Anna location, Hayes exudes cordiality and friendliness. Beyond that, however, lies the quiet confidence of someone who is extremely well versed in the shooting arts. Hayes, in fact, is a shooter, a true competitor in the realm of Cowboy Action Shooting.
Hayes is a member of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), an international organization which serves to preserve and promote the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting. Cowboy Action Shooting is a timed, multi-gun event set in Old West-themed settings. Competitors use a variety of rifles, pistols and shotguns to make their way through a timed stage as quickly as possible. There are, of course, plenty of different timed shooting events out there, but what makes Cowboy Action Shooting so unique is that the competitors must use firearms – actual or replicas - faithful to the time period between 1860 And 1899. This means single-action revolvers, pistol caliber rifles and even double barrel shotguns. Each stage, or scenario, can feature different situations based on famous incidents or movies scenes in which the shooters must test their mettle against steel targets. Ever wanted to test your speed on a lever gun out the window of a saloon?
Cowboy Action Shooting goes beyond just a certain type of gun, however; it delves into the actual Old West lifestyle. SASS competitors are required to adopt a shooting "alias" which is time frame appropriate. These aliases can be based on a character or a profession from the 19th century and the appropriate costume is required. Period-authentic clothing can include hats – cowboy or bowler – denim pants, suspenders, boots, you get the picture. And lest you think it’s all guns and period clothing used and worn by guys wanting to get out of the house on the weekend, these guys live by what they refer to as "The Spirit of the Game." It’s a code of adhering to Old West beliefs and standards and being faithful to the requirements of their sport. When these guys adopt an alias, they become a part of a too brief but much loved chapter in American history.
Hairtrigger Hayes came into being one day in April of 2011. It was then that Duane Hayes took in a new shooter’s clinic after seeing a Cowboy Action Shooting match on television. After smoking his stages he decided the cowboy shooting life was for him. Getting his guns together – it generally takes a shotgun, a rifle and two revolvers to compete – and establishing his Hairtrigger alias, Hayes entered his first competition in July of 2011. He ran his first stage under 20 seconds in less than a year and was hooked on the sport.
It didn’t take long before he began to excel. Hairtrigger competed in Oakwood in his first big match in April of 2012 and intended to use the weekend to sort out the "big match jitters" before taking on the state competition. Nerves weren’t an issue for him that weekend as he finished 12th out of 124 competitors and finished second in his category. At the state competition in Lockhart, Hayes set a goal of finishing in the top 50 out of a field of around 260 competitors. Hairtrigger was quick on the draw that day, finishing at number 50.
"I thought if I finished in the top 50 I’ll be happy for my first trip (to state competition), and that’s exactly what I did. I felt pretty good about that," said Hayes.
Hayes continues to finish in either first or second place in his local matches but his best day came at The Badlands in Northeast Texas, where current and former world champions shoot. It was on that day in September of 2012 that Hairtrigger was at his most consistent and did not suffer a single bad stage. When match officials called out the overall winner for the day, it was Hayes.
"The day that I walked away with Top Gun, that’s the biggest thing I’ve done so far," Hayes said.
Hayes Competes at Texas Ten Horns in the community of Jacobia the last full weekend of every month. On the second Saturday of every month he engages in Wild Bunch Action Shooting competition, an offshoot of the standard Cowboy Action Shooting, the primary difference being he uses a .45 caliber 1911 Colt instead of his standard revolvers. That Colt has a unique history: it is his father’s gun, a Christmas present from the board of directors in 1970.
Men of a certain age can relate to Hayes’ newfound passion, especially those versed in tv westerns. Hayes grew up on those old westerns.
"This really appealed to me because of the old guns they were shooting. I grew up watching The Lone Ranger and the Cisco Kid, and I’m a huge John Wayne fan," said Hayes.
Hayes travels to competitions with a few of his newfound friends who also compete. Imagine the looks the group gets when they walk into a Whataburger on the road dressed like they just stepped out of the 19th century complete with period suspenders, high-rise britches, hats and sometimes even spurs.
"The Cowboy Way is to always be polite and respectful, and we always get someone who asks us questions, and that gives us an opportunity to talk about our sport a little bit," said Hayes of the attention.
Ultimately, the goal for Hayes isn’t to become rich and famous off the sport. In truth, the world champs get not a whole lot more than a belt buckle proclaiming them as such, some well-deserved respect from the shooting world and even some bragging rights. But for Hayes, the reason to stay the path is clear.
"You know, I have never in my life done anything that I enjoy more than this, and I’ve been an avid hunter for years," said Hayes. "I think one of the things I take away from this sport and I enjoy the most is the people I’ve met. I have met some of the most sincere, nicest people in this sport that I’ve ever met."
The truth of his words lies in this simple fact: he is bringing his son Ryan along for the ride. And just to add credence to the theory that good shooters are born, not made, Ryan took second in class in his first match while Hairtrigger won the overall.