‘Tank’ Dorman, 11, recently won a Fastest Gun Alive championship

SNOHOMISH — Anthony “Tank” Dorman is a quiet guy with cowboy cool. He leans back with an expert stance and stares down a target. In the blink of an eye — the instant a signal light on that target comes on — he pulls a single action Colt .45 western style six-shooter from his holster. He cocks the hammer and fires.

The kid is dead-on accurate.

Anthony is an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Cathcart Elementary School. His whole family takes part in the sport of Cowboy Fast Draw. When they compete, dressed head-to-toe in western regalia, they all look like they just sauntered out of the Old West.

Monty and Brooke Dorman and their children, Anthony and 14-year-old Macayla, participate in Cowboy Fast Draw Association competitions around the country. Anthony is the reigning shooter in his age group.

He won the 2015 Fastest Gun Alive World Champion title in the overall youth category at the Cowboy Fast Draw Association’s championship event held Oct. 1-4 in Fallon, Nevada. Competing in the youth division are kids ages 8 to 16, with the boys labeled “Billy the Kid” competitors and the girls “Annie Oakley.”

How fast is this fastest gun?

“Anthony’s times are .526 to .580 second,” said Brooke Dorman, adding “my husband’s fastest is .303.”

For Anthony, that’s a half-second or so for the whole process — from seeing the light flash and drawing a gun to hitting the steel target that’s equipped with an electronic timer.

“It’s a whole lot of fun. It’s a huge family,” Brooke Dorman said. “Every competition is like a family reunion.”

A visit to their Maltby-area home offered a chance to see Anthony in action, and to ask questions about a sport Monty Dorman described as being about “safety first, fun second and competition third.”

He explained that the guns are real but the ammunition isn’t.

“It’s a regular Colt .45, a reproduction of an 1890s model — an Old West kind of gun. For safety purposes, we use a wax bullet. It travels at 800 feet per second, so it can still be dangerous,” Dorman said. Special casings that hold shotgun primers power the wax bullets.

A small firing range in the Dormans’ back yard is a place to practice and demonstrate how safety is the priority. The yard backs up to a woodsy area, which they said is a county easement for a road that was never built. They have a timer linked to light-up targets, which are metal plates greased to show the hits. A shooter stands 21 feet away, the championship distance that’s marked on the ground. Behind it all is draped a backstop made of archery or ballistic fabric.

Monty Dorman oversees the guns and ammo, handing his children wax bullets for weapons kids can’t legally own. “I own them from a legality standpoint. A parent or guardian has to be present at all times,” he said.

Every Cowboy Fast Draw Association competitor uses an alias. Anthony goes by “Tank,” his sister is “Shotgun Diva,” their mom is “Sassy Cowgirl,” and visitors can see Monty Dorman’s alias on the back of his truck — “The Gunslinger.”

One might guess that Anthony picked up the sport from his dad. It was the other way around. “I started after he started,” said Monty Dorman, 37, a consultant for Microsoft. Dorman said his son was about to turn 9 when he first tried Cowboy Fast Draw with his maternal grandfather, Clay Janes, who lives in Boise, Idaho. Janes competes in the sport as “Tin Bender.” Brooke and Monty Dorman grew up in Boise.

The family traveled to about 10 competitions this year. Along with his world title, Anthony won Cowboy Fast Draw Association state championships in Idaho, Nevada and Texas, and the group’s Territorial Championships for the Northwest, Western States and Four Corners.

In competition, he is required to fire with two hands until he turns 12 and is tested for one-handed shooting. The slim 11-year-old was quiet the day we met, letting his skill and the belt buckle he won in Nevada do the talking. The buckle says “2015 Billy the Kid Champion.”

Students at Anthony’s school got to see his fast-draw prowess when he was allowed to show a short video at a talent show.

“What he does is just so cool and fun,” said Mike Anderson, the Cathcart Elementary principal. Anthony’s video was shown during a portion of the evening event. Videos of a dirt bike rider and mountain biker were also included, Anderson said.

The principal is impressed by the Dormans. “They are an awesome family. They go out of their way to share about safety and responsibility,” Anderson said.

At school, Anderson said, Anthony is “a typical boy who has lots of friends and is involved in all kinds of activities.” The boy doesn’t talk much about his sport at school, “but he’s proud of doing it,” Anderson said.

Anderson compared Anthony’s target shooting with archery that fifth- and sixth-graders learn during the school’s outdoor camp. “Shooting a bow and arrow and learning how to do it in a safe manner is the same kind of idea,” Anderson said. The principal also said Snohomish has many hunters who “do it in an appropriate way and pass it on by teaching their kids.”

Monty Dorman said Anthony hasn’t expressed an interest in hunting.

“He spends a lot of time practicing, and we travel across the United States,” the father said. “It’s fun to play cowboy.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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