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The Cherryville Eagle

Traditional New Year’s Shooters’ ‘shoot’ goes smoothly for 2020

Jan 10, 2020 08:35AM

And so, it begins! The “criers” or chanters of the TNYS begin the century-old chant that lets people know who they are, what they’re doing, and for whom they’re doing their first ‘shot’ of the New Year 2020. (photos by MEP/The Eagle and Susan L. Powell)



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Keeping the traditions solid and cohesive are important with any historic event. So it is with the Traditional New Year Shooters group, who always starts each ‘shoot’ at Cherryville’s City Hall.

According to group spokesman Gary Dellinger, things went extremely smooth for the group this year, and the weather cooperated nicely through it all.  

“We didn’t have any report of injuries or accidents. We did have one gun to split the barrel, but no one was hurt. We had one shot where an emergency vehicle needed to get through to respond to a non-shooter incident.”

Dellinger noted their shooters followed the rules and procedures, and the emergency vehicle had no trouble getting through the group with a lane of traffic open. 

One thing that seemed to be more prevalent at the City Hall shot was that two shooters would fire their muskets, then move off, followed by two more, and so on. Dellinger said that was a result of their finding it necessary to keep on schedule with the number of shooters the group has.  

Dellinger went into more detail by adding, “Years ago, when this group started, they had very strict customs they followed. For example, there were only a few ‘criers’ who were allowed to say the speech, and certain criers were expected to say the speech at certain shots. It was customary for the elders to  lead off with the first shot at each stop.

“It was a sign of respect and was considered an honor to be the lead-off shooter. It was also a rule that was written in the rules (there was to be) “no twin shooting”. This meant that at each shot, the shooters in the group would walk up one at a time to shoot. This was the way we did it up until about 15 years ago.

“Now, our group is so large, it would be impossible to shoot one at a time. It would take us an hour per shot to do that. And, we now let pretty much anybody that would like to try, cry the speech. 

“We want to be more inclusive to everybody because that is what is going to keep this tradition going. We also don’t emphasize any importance of being the lead-off shooter like we use to.  

“It really doesn’t matter much who shoots first because we all get a turn and with several shooting together, the line moves pretty fast. Safety is now our biggest concern, making sure we have a controlled area that isn’t too crowded with shooters and is a safe distance from spectators.”

Gary continued, “We do, however, try to keep with the old traditions as much as we can at the first shot at City Hall. We have one of the best criers do the speech; we have the oldest member of the group lead off. We have the officers and the elders in the group shoot next. We have the youngest members shoot after the elders, then we have the rest of the group shoot one at a time for a while, to keep with the spirit of the old days.  

“Of course, after a while, we have to speed thing up to keep on schedule, so we shoot two at a time. We have done this several years now and it works well for us.”

This year’s shoot was a sad one for the members of the TNYS, as they lost one of their beloved members, Sonny Beam.

Said Gary, “We lost a long-time member last year, Sonny Beam. Many remember Sonny by the iconic Civil War uniform he would always wear.  

“Also, our president Glenn Wilson was not able to make the new year’s route this year due to an illness in the family.”  

As far as a primary issue for the group, Dellinger noted, “Safety is always at the forefront these days. We have made rules over the years to make shooting safer for the shooters and spectators, and continue to look for new concerns that could be addressed. I don’t really want to speculate on what the next safety rules might be, because we have such a small number of injuries now compared to when I started shooting, but, if we do see any new potential problems come up, we will address them. We just make sure everyone is following the rules we have now.” 

Dellinger said things have changed and are always changing.

“In the 1970s complaints about the New Year Shooters would include such phrases as, ‘they blew the window out of my house’, or ‘I picked up gun parts for weeks’, etc.,” he said, adding, “Now, the complaints are more like ‘they make my dog nervous’. I consider that progress. But, seriously, improving the image of the Shooters and continuing the tradition as the world continues to evolve is the biggest challenge going forward. 

“There have always been people who don’t care for what we do; always will be. We do make a loud noise, but so does thunder, fire trucks, train whistles, etc. Most people support us and enjoy what we do and the simpler times we represent.  

“On Jan. 2, we go back to being business owners, truck drivers, mechanics, school teachers, nurses, Democrats, and Republicans. But on Jan. 1, we are all New Year Shooters!”