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10/23/2002
Hudson Valley Instructor Doubles As A "Cowboy"

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085

Image of Rick Wood shootingHudson Valley Community College adjunct instructor Rick Wood shoots from the hip. And not just in the classroom.

Wood, who has been at the college for about five years – he teaches construction classes – also travels across the country in his free time, competing as a "cowboy action shooter." His wife, Jill Palmer-Wood, an assistant professor in construction and civil engineering at Hudson Valley, competes as well.

Image of Rick Wood, Jill Palmer-Wood and familyCowboy action shooter participants are required to use pre-1899 weapons, wear period clothing and adopt an alias (Wood goes by "Vermin Hunter").

"My dad started me with firearm safety and target shooting at a young age, and I grew up in an era where John Wayne was a big deal," said Wood, 41, who called the farmlands of Nassau home as a child. "So I've always liked firearms from that period."

Wood competes primarily in the "gunfighter" discipline, which means that he shoots two weapons at once. And he is more than proficient with a pistol in each hand; one of more than 45,000 registered cowboy action shooters worldwide, Wood has won about 35 of the 40 matches he's competed in.

At the 2001 world championship competition, in California, Wood shot more than 300 rounds over a five-day period. He had only two misses and finished third in the gunfighter class, which featured competitors from all over the globe.

"Cowboy action shooting requires precision, speed and accuracy," Wood said. "But it's not just about competition. There's a lot of camaraderie and friendships."