LUMBERTON, N.C. (WBTW) — Lumberton played host to a unique sporting event over the weekend — the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association competition at the Southeastern Agricultural Center.

Though the event may have looked like the set of a Western movie, none of the pearl snap- and fringe-clad cowboys and cowgirls were actors. They were athletes competing for cash prizes, belt buckles and bragging rights.

“You and your horse have to jive to make it happen,” competitor Savanna Lohrey said. “There’s a lot going on in the arena, and you have to come together as a team.”

The event features competitors trying to shoot all the targets in the fastest time from the back of their horses. They use real guns loaded with blanks that can still pop balloons from up to 20 feet away.

“After you shoot five balloons because you have five bullets, you put this one away and draw your second one, then shoot five more,” Dave Lohrey, president of the Double L Bar Shooters of North Carolina, said of his revolvers. “You’ve got horses and guns all in the same place, so it’s a blast.”

Lohrey said mounted shooting is the fastest-growing equine sport in the country. The competition drew shooters from as far as Canada.

“My best friend drove 2,300 miles,” Ken Jardine, a Canadian shooter said. “I was a hunter all my life and a weapon tech in the military. When I saw this, I said, `This is brilliant, I have to do it.’”

The shooters said riding through the arena comes with a major adrenaline rush. Once the round is over, though, it’s all about fellowship.

“Everyone around here is like family,” Lohrey said. “There are no strangers. Anyone who is new is welcome, and we all gather at night to party together, then cheer each other on in the arena the next day.”