By Craig Springer
“Tex” is his alias. And he looks the part from his hat to his boots, like he walked out of 1880 and into the 21st century. He carries a stout single-action revolver on his hip; the bluing is worn, the leather worked. His wide gray felt hat sports a tall crown and its brim casts a wide shadow. A round badge on his breast is ringed with “Single Action Shooting Society.” A star in the middle is centered with a “4.”
Don Ormand has the brogue of a Texan and is the fourth member of SASS, the Single Action Shooting Society. He is also one of five others that bought Founders Ranch in the far northwest corner of Torrance County in order to create a world-class cowboy-style shooting area.
Founders Ranch is nearly a square mile of land studded with pinon and juniper and blanketed with grassy meadows. A few bison roam here, as do longhorn cattle. In fact the second-largest captive bison herd in North America meanders about the meadows. At the center of the property, an Old West-type town looks like the real thing, not unlike “Tex.” Founders Ranch is the site of the annual End of the Trail western shooting event that draws people from around the world. Not only that, the property has become a favorite locale for private events, reunions, weddings, and filmmaking.
Ormand’s alias fits. He is kin to pioneering Texan families, and he left Texas as sort of a pioneer himself. Standing before him the past and the future are oddly juxtaposed. Ormand was a computer software engineer in California working in missile defense and radar detection systems. In a tangential way, he had a hand in recently knocking down the errant satellite from space in Earth’s orbit.
And he also had a hand in bringing the entire SASS operation in California to the Edgewood area, where the organization’s headquarters will employee 12 people in an 8,000-square-foot northern New Mexico-style building on the frontage road near Wildlife West.
Founders Ranch is named in honor of the founders of SASS. They have grown the Society from a bare few to include members from around the world. Some 78,000 SASS badges have been issued, with members from all over the United States, Canada, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Australia.
Founders Ranch contributes to the mission of SASS and to Ormand’s desires. He laments that knowing the history of the West and western heritage is lost on many people, regardless of their age. One gets the sense from being at Founders Ranch that SASS members not only know it, but they live in it.
“When you join SASS, you suit up, take an alias,” says Ormand. “You know people by their character – in SASS we don’t know the brain surgeon from the common laborer. We don’t know the difference and we don’t care. We do this for education and for fun; we do what kids do, but our toys are more costly.”
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