FORSYTH — More than 30 years after its start, the Matthew Quigley Buffalo Rifle Match in Forsyth is still going strong. On Saturday, the 31st annual event kicked off.
“A prominent member of our club, Al Lee, and his buddy, Earnie Cornett, went to Miles City and saw the movie 'Quigley Down Under'. On their way back, they discussed that they could put up a bucket target because they’d been having these buffalo rifle matches and had several enthusiasts around here," said Trent Pfaffinger, the president of the Forsyth Rifle and Pistol Club, on Saturday. "They put up a bucket target and shot at it on Father’s Day. Very few people attended. But for whatever reason, it took off, and it’s been going on for 32 years now because we were rained out once."
The two-day shooting competition was sparked in 1991 by two members of the Forsyth Rifle and Pistol Club, Al Lee and Earnie Cornett.
“This is one of the biggest ones we’ve had for a while. But we have had nearly 700 (participants) earlier here,” said Al Lee, the co-creator of the event. "It's special."
The event takes place on Lee's property just outside of Forsyth. Lee still attends and says he always enjoys seeing the crowds return. This year, more than 600 shooters signed up to compete.
“For reasons we have no clue about, it turned into this,” Trent Pfaffinger said.
Trent is accompanied by his daughter Lauryn every year.
“It’s great family time. I love spending time with my daughter," Trent Pfaffinger said. "It's just great."
Lauryn said this activity with her father has paid off in more ways than one.
"I spotted for him when he was shooting by himself, and then we had some friends come along. When I was in eighth grade I started shooting, and I actually won a scholarship from the club because I had attended three Quigley’s," Lauryn Pfaffinger said. "So I was able to get a scholarship for college for that."
Categories range from first-time shooters to father-and-son or daughter teams, and it’s all benefitting the Forsyth Rifle and Pistol Club.
"It allows our club to give away scholarships and do other work for the community," Trent Pfaffinger said. "As well as, well, it’s a lot of fun."
Another father-daughter duo also continues to return year after year.
"I always want to beat him, even if it’s Father’s Day,” said Danica Gamble, a returning competitor from Hysham. “I already shot once at the buffalo, the farthest one. I shot a four out of eight."
Danica placed second overall in last year’s match, but has some major competition this year—her father.
"I got a seven out of eight on the buffalo, so, doing good,” said Wesley Gamble, Danica's father and the vice president of the Forsyth Rifle and Pistol Club.
But it’s not about winning for the Gamble's or the Pfaffinger's. It's simply about spending time together as a family while benefitting the small town.
“We go out in the cow pasture and shoot old-time rifles at metal targets for fun," Trent Pfaffinger said. “Can’t give enough credit to Claudia Kajin and her husband Al. They’re the ones that do the work that actually makes this happen."
To learn more about the event, click here.
To learn more about the Forsyth Rifle and Pistol Club, click here.
“It’s just incredible that people come from all over the world, literally, to gather and shoot at this event," Trent Pfaffinger said. "It’s just turned into something amazing for little old Forsyth, Montana."