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Straight out of the movies: World champion helps keep cowboy action shooting alive

Duane Hayes won the 2019 world championship and finished second this year.

The days of bank heists involving outlaws and cowboys are a thing of the past.

Just don’t tell that to the banker.

Duane Hayes is senior vice president at Texas Bank in Van Alstyne and he said he discovered his cowboy alter ego quite accidentally.

“Every Saturday and Sunday I get to dress up like this and go play cowboy,” Hayes said.

Back in 2011, Hayes was watching a TV show when something caught his eye.

“They had a segment on Cowboy Action Shooting,” 57-year-old Hayes said. “And I watched it and I thought, 'I think I can do that.'"

Cowboy Action Shooting is a way to keep the wild west alive. Competitors use guns from 1860-1899 and shoot a series of targets as fast as they can.

Hayes said safety is the main priority. Competitors have to adhere to a rigorous standard of safety checks. After Hayes picked the alias 'Hair Trigger Hayes,' he joined the Texas Ten Horns cowboy action shooting club.

“I immediately thought that I could perform as well as they were performing,” he said. “So I went to the new shooter’s clinic and learned real quick that I couldn’t.”

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After a while, though, Hayes got a quick trigger.

He was so fast that a couple of years ago, Hayes won the Cowboy Action Shooting duelist world championship. The winning belt buckle, along with nearly a dozen other awards, sits on a shelf above his desk at the bank.

Hayes followed his 2019 world championship with a second-place finish in 2022.

Although, the guy who won couldn’t have done it without Hayes.

“He said, ‘Hair Trigger, I have watched your videos and studied the way you shoot and the way you move,'" Hayes said. “I just felt like a champion all over again.”

Hayes also inspired his wife, Susan. She started competing under the name One Chance Fancy (she got the nickname because her grandkids call her ‘Fancy’) and finished second this year.

But win or lose, Hayes said cowboy action shooting is a great way to connect to the past and honor the people who had the audacity to brave the wild west and call themselves Texan.

“They survived and they succeeded,” he said. “And I just think the old west is a time in our heritage that we just can’t forget, that we never should forget.”

It’s why he competes and why he is gunning for another world championship.

Can he win it again?

Who knows? But he definitely has a great shot.

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