A Guide to the Best of Southern California : BROWSING : Cowboy Junkies

Straight shooters aim for the Branding Iron in Burbank when they're looking for guns, hats, knives and clothing typical of those used in the Wild West. Former Burbank policeman Bill French met business partner Ron Watts five years ago at one of the many "cowboy shoots" held throughout the Southwest. They transformed their love of this competitive gun sport, in which participants wear authentic Western costumes, into a store. "Our store supplies the sport of cowboy shooting with all the accessories needed," French says, "including single-action shooters and rifles to custom-made knives and clothing patterned after fashions of the 1860s." Western gear ranges from tanned miner's pants ($49) and cotton blacksmith shirts ($44) to a buffalo and beaver riding coat ($475). French, an expert leather craftsman, also custom-designs hand-tooled gun holsters and belts from cowhide ($40 to $50). "Authenticity is everything at these shoots," says Watts, "from the type of rifle you use to your clothing. One fellow won a costume contest because he was wearing vintage clothing right on down to his underwear."

The Branding Iron, 3316A Burbank Blvd., Burbank; (818) 562-1428.

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