Carl "Old Fuzz" Church
In October of 1999, a handful of curious friends and family met in a little valley off Pigtail Road just north of Lenoir, North Carolina. No one knew exactly what to expect, only that the land owner, Ripshin, SASS 20556, had been attending shooting matches in Charlotte which were called Cowboy Action Shooting and it probably had something to do with that. He and his close friend Horsetrader, SASS 20213, had a dream of starting their own similar club so they purchased steel targets known to be used in this sport and were offering the use of their firearms and ammo to their visitors as a means of introducing this game to the area. Among those present was an older gentleman that had heard of the gathering from his grand daughter’s husband. Pocko, SASS 21923, is Ripshin’s nephew and had told his wife’s grandfather there was possibly going to be a new firing range opening up and he asked his grandfather in-law to attend the upcoming event with him. His name was Carl Church and when Pocko told him the shooting range was going to have a cowboy theme, he was even more determined to tag along. For many of us, making time in our busy schedules is the largest obstacle to our shooting. For Carl, his health was the greatest barrier. Having retired ten years earlier, Carl spent most of his free time in a modest workshop behind the home where he and his lovely wife Goldie had lived since the day they were married. Some of his proudest moments came when he was showing his model trains and the scale town he had built around those train sets. Because he suffered from emphysema, Carl often tired easily and was very limited in what activities he could participate in. After hearing about the cowboy club, he felt that maybe he could at least attend a monthly shooting match if it didn’t require a lot of exertion. And so, when the day finally rolled around to try this Cowboy Action Shooting, Carl Church was there proudly sporting his cowboy hat and boots. Following a brief explanation of what Cowboy Action Shooting was all about and a safety briefing, Carl was ready to try his luck. All it took was one trip to the firing line and he fell in love. This was the most fun he had had in years. After shooting two stages all he wanted to know was “How do I join?” Carl became one of the first members of The Gunpowder Creek Regulators and chose the alias Old Fuzz because of his trademark beard. He attended matches as often as his health would allow and quickly became one of the most beloved members of the group. He was so highly regarded by everyone involved that stages prepared for monthly matches were always written with one thought in mind, “Will Fuzz be able to do this?” Many times he would attend a match and after only one or two stages he would be forced to break away from the posse and sit out the remainder of the match. Regardless of his health problems, he still tried to attend matches, even if he didn’t get to shoot, just so he could visit with his cowboy buddies. Carl loved this game and enjoyed just being around it.
On August 7, 2002 Carl
was rushed to an area hospital’s emergency room. His emphysema was
making it almost impossible to breath and while walking with his wife
down an ER hallway, he collapsed. Carl Church died in his wife’s arms,
a victim of congestive heart failure complicated by the emphysema he had
struggled with for so many years. He was seventy-six years old.
The news of Carl’s death
hit his fellow Gunpowder Creek Regulators pretty hard. A tradition at
his club’s range has been to give names to the stage fronts. In our
little western town of Mine Branch, we have The Browning House, The
Brass Rail, and Dakota Dry Goods, to name a few, all of which were
actually christened while under construction. However, one recently
completed prop had yet been named. Several names had been tossed around
but nothing quite seemed to fit. With Carl’s death, his club’s members
knew why they had been unable to choose a name and that this prop was
meant to be named for him. Because of Carl’s love for trains this
newest stage prop would be called MINE BRANCH STATION RAIL DEPOT.
Hanging above the door is a sign that says simply, OLD FUZZ ~ TRAIN
Now, whenever you visit Mine Branch, you will see a silent reminder of just how much one person can touch the lives of so many others. Mine Branch Station is our way of saying we love you Old Fuzz, and we miss you very much.
Horsetrader, SASS 20213L, R
CARL JACKSON CHURCH