Like any normal teenage boy, Braydon Watrous may be nervous about walking the halls of Claremore High School as a freshman in two months, but those nerves fade away while standing on the line as cowboy fast-draw national champion “Wax Killer,” hands itching to grab the pistol at his waist.
At 14 years old, Braydon can send a wax bullet from holster to target in .511 seconds, just .26 seconds shy of the world record.
The whole thing started when his father’s boss invited them to a historical reenactment at the J.M. Davis Gun Museum. As soon as Braydon saw the men practicing their fast draw he was intrigued.
His parents, Rob and Cheryl, bought his first practice gun four years ago.
“You can’t tell it now, but he was this itty bitty little short thing and he would take his whole body to jerk it up out of the holster,” Cheryl said. Braydon frowned as his dad pulled up the video to show a short young Braydon with long hair struggling to lift the gun strapped to his hip.
“There are three main rules in cowboy fast draw,” Cheryl said. “Safety first, fun second, competition third.” The fun of the sport is that every gunslinger has an alias, and everyone, shooters and supporters alike, dresses is period correct fashion. “The outfits are absolutely beautiful,” Cheryl said.
“We drive him their Braydon and the minute we get there he is ‘Wax’ or ‘Wax Killer’,” Rob said. “It’s something to see watching your son change from being your son in the car to having this whole other personality.”
Braydon said his favorite thing about the sport is “it’s like a big family.” Cheryl expanded on that saying she is constantly communicating with the other moms about upcoming shoots and costume coordination.
“The sportsmanship, the camaraderie. I don’t know how many times someone we don’t know has walked up and wished him luck by name,” Rob said.
“It is expensive to get started,” Rob said, listing all the equipment they had to invest in when Braydon took a serious interest in the sport. “But it’s been worth it, without a doubt.”
“You see, Braydon had an accident when he was real young and so he can’t play football, basketball or baseball,” Rob said. “He runs track and he shoots, but the lessons he has learned from shooting are more than I think he ever would have learned playing those other sports.”
Despite fast-draw being a relatively small sport, there are clubs in 46 U.S. states and the size of competitions continues to grow.
The national championship had 200 shooters, with 12 in Braydon’s age group (8-16). “We travel all over and he competes in different states,” Cheryl said. “In October we’ll be traveling to Nevada for him to compete for the World Title.”
“At the beginning and end of the school year sometimes we have to miss school for a bit,” Cheryl said. “But I think it’s worth it because you can’t learn everything in the classroom.”
Braydon exuded confidence about the upcoming world championship. “I beat the previous world champion at nationals this year, so I’ve got this,” he said.