"Welcome to the
Sharpshooter aka The Shooting Match
Hi, my name’s
Lucas McCain. This is my ten year old boy, Mark. Welcome to the
and I came here to North Fork, New Mexico Territory from
Oklahoma in 1881 to buy a ranch and to settle. My wife, Margaret
passed away when Mark was six years old. Mark and I decided to
come to this newly settled land.
Well, it all started one
day when we rode upon a ranch for sale. It was known as the
Dunlap Place. There were 4,100 acres for sale. We stopped just
before entering the yard and I said, “Well, it’s new and mighty
fine country, son.” Mark looked over his shoulder. I gave him a
weak smile, knowing it was hard for a ten year old to leave
everything he had behind to start all over. But, I gently
reminded him that there was no looking back.
“I wasn’t really
looking back,” he explained. “Just remembering back.”
then that I stopped for a moment and allowed him that moment to
remember, but after only a moment, I said, “What do you say we
start from here?”
I climbed down from my horse to go
investigate the inside further while my son stayed on his and
began chasing out stray cattle that were in the yard. When I
asked him what he thought about the place, he told me he liked
it. Then, I couldn’t resist. I picked up some hay and smelled
it, closing my eyes to take in the sweet, familiar smell I
missed so much. A smile came to my face because I knew we were
home. “Well then, I guess we’ve come far enough!” I declared as
we headed to North Fork.
We came to North Fork in hopes
of talking to the judge about purchasing the land. When we
arrived, we discovered there was a Turkey Shoot contest with the
1st prize being $500. I knew that would help us make the first
payment on the ranch.
We checked into the California
House. I asked the lady behind the desk how I would go about
entering the Turkey Shoot. She referred me to Judge Hanavan. He
looked down at my rifle and informed me that it was a draw and
fire proposition with a five second time limit. "Your not gonna
enter with a rifle?” he asked doubtfully. I told him I'd take a
try at it. "Ten dollars entrance fee and five hundred dollars
first prize," was all he said. I told him that Mark and I
decided this part of the country was for us. We were discussing
the Dunlap Ranch when Wes Tippert, the uncle of a young
sharpshooter walked in.
He asked if I would be competing
against his nephew and if anyone wanted to bet money on the
pistol shoot. The Judge told him that I had just entered the
contest. He told me he'd bet me that his boy could out shoot me
or anyone else 5 to 3. I told him that I wasn’t a betting man,
to which he replied, “a man that won't bet ain't much of a man."
I turned back to look at him, my face suddenly cold and
expressionless. I took a step forward, and he looked away
suddenly a little afraid. "No offense," he said.
Mark to go ahead into the restaurant and order our supper for
us. While he was ordering, Vernon, Wes's nephew came in and Mark
invited him to join us for supper. They got to talking about how
fast Vernon was and Mark told him how fast I was with my rifle.
"No man with a rifle is as fast as a man with a six gun," said
"My Pa is,” Mark declared proudly. “While we were
living in the Nations, they used to call him The Rifleman,"
Marshal Fred Tomlinson was sitting at the next
table looking over the menu when he overheard Mark telling
Vernon how fast I was.
This caught the Marshal's attention. He didn't bother ordering,
he was too eager to tell the Judge the news. This was just what
they were waiting for. The Judge headed on over to the Last
Chance Saloon to put his money on me.
While they went over to the
motel, I came to join Mark and Vernon. I’m proud to say that my
son was polite in introducing me to his newfound friend and we
had an enjoyable supper together. Vernon informed me that Big
Jim owned almost everything in North Fork and I told him that I
had heard his name mentioned.
Big Jim Lewis was taking
the bets. He still felt that Vernon was going to win the match.
I asked Vernon if he had ever competed in a shooting match
before to which he stated, “Just don’t bet against me.” While we
were eating, Vernon’s uncle rudely interrupted us and yelled at
Vernon about running off the mouth with strangers. This offended
me, because my son was no stranger. He was just an innocent
child! So, I stated, “He was having lunch with my son.”
Big Jim and his men came over to the hotel to size me up. He
told me I must have a pretty good reputation. He said that I’ve
only been in town for half an hour and there was already
$3,000.00 in my favor.” I was a little surprised that the judge
had bet on me. “McCain, just how good are you?” Big Jim asked
“I’m good enough,” I answered, showing that I wasn’t afraid
“I hope you aren’t too good,” he replied, an unspoken threat
laying in his words.
“That would be a might
costly for you.” I stood up to leave. When I wasn't interested
in what they had to say, one of his men grabbed me. That was a
mistake. I quickly jabbed the butt of my rifle into his stomach
and slammed my fist into his face. He fell to the floor. I
flipped my rifle around, letting the men know I was ready for a
fight. “You boys might be running this town, but that means
nothing to us,” I warned as Mark and I walked out.
went out to the horses. I think Mark was a bit surprised that I
hit that man. “You hit him pretty hard, Pa,” he stated.
smiled. “Well, he was pretty big, son.” Mark was worried that
that man would cause problems for us getting the ranch. I told
him that the only problem we might have was paying for it, “and
I think we’ll have that whipped in short order.”
young 'sharpshooter' was the favorite to win according to his
big mouth Uncle Wes. Big Jim stood to win a lot of money if
Vernon beat me. He had covered all the bets on this young
'sharpshooter'. While we were watching the other contestants in
the turkey shoot, the Marshal asked to speak to me. I wasn’t
sure what it was about, but could tell it was something serious,
so I wanted Mark to stay put.
“Mr. McCain,” the Marshal
started. “I think there’s something you should know about this
town. It belongs to Jim Lewis. “All of it?” I asked, wondering
why I needed to know this.
“Well, he tolerates me as long as I don’t give him any
trouble.” “I see,” I commented. “No, I’m afraid you don’t. Mr.
Lewis has been in this town for four years. During that time, a
lot of things have happened.” He continued to tell me that he
never looses. I knew he wasn’t volunteering that information and
asked him why he didn’t take off that badge. Such things
disgusted me. “I’ll tell you why, McCain. Because as long as I
wear it, I can do a little good. Not much, but a little.”
was my turn for the shoot. As I stood to take my turn, Big Jim
approached me. The look on his face told me his words were not
words my boy needed to hear, so I sent him to congratulate
Vernon on his “mighty fine shooting.” Big Jim told me that there
was only one man who could stop Vernon from winning the match.
“If he does it, I’ll have him killed,” he warned me. But his
warning did not bother me in the least. I shot all five shots in
the center. It would be a shoot off between me and Vernon.
When I was waiting to shoot
the second time, Big Jim made another threat. He called my name,
then put one hand on MY boy and another on his gun to show me
that he would kill Mark if I won. His ploy worked. He was able
to convince me, The Rifleman to throw the contest. No amount
of money was worth my son’s life, so I threw the match. Mark and
the people of North Fork were disappointed that I lost the
match. They didn't know I had no other choice. I picked my son
up, because I felt a need to have him in my arms after his life
had been threatened. Big Jim decided to make sure everyone knew
I had thrown the match by offering me my $10 entry fee back. The
judge even told me the Dunlap Ranch wasn't for sale anymore.
This fact upset me, and Mark wanted me to explain things. I
wasn’t in the mood, so I walked past Mark without an explanation
to get our things from our hotel room. While I was gone, Vernon
came to talk to me. He questioned Mark about me throwing the
match and Mark came to my defense by insisting that I did not
throw the match.
Big Jim, his men, and Wes went over to
the saloon to celebrate. After buying a round of drinks, Wes
wanted his money. "Alright Mr. Lewis, how about paying Mr.
Tippert what you owe him!"
"You got your five hundred
dollars for winning the match, what else do you want?" asked Big
Jim. Big Jim had no intentions of giving Wes any money. Wes
removed the letter that Big Jim had sent him from his pocket.
The letter read that Big Jim would give him five hundred dollars
plus half of all the money won. Big Jim had collected over ten
thousand dollars in bets, and Wes wanted five hundred dollars
plus his five thousand dollars from the bets. Wes told him if he
didn't pay up he would call his boy and turn him loose on them.
This amused Big Jim, so he pretended to make Wes one
final bet. He told him if he could put a forty-five slug through
the picture above the bar he would get his money besides another
thousand. Wes agreed and drew his gun to do just that. That’s
when Big Jim shot him in cold blood.
Vernon was waiting
for me when I came down with our things. "Listen Mr. McCain.
There's something I want to ask you and I'd like a straight
answer,” Vernon demanded. I ignored him. I was in no mood to
talk about the match anymore. I was ready to leave this town. I
had thought we had found our place, and was upset that things
hadn’t turned out for me and Mark. But Vernon insisted and told
me about the talk around town that I threw the match. The woman
behind the desk stated that I didn’t throw the match. Then my
boy stated, “He did the best he could. He just wasn’t good
Just then Carl, one of Big Jim's men walked in
and told Vernon to come over and get his uncle's body, he just
got himself killed. He told Vernon that his uncle had tried to
outdraw Big Jim. Vernon didn't believe him. He was angry, and
stated he would be over to collect his money. When Vernon
started to leave, Mark pleaded with him not to go. I knew these
men were setting him up for the kill, and I knew that he was a
kid that wasn’t as good as he thought he was.
I turned to
Vernon and got right in his face. I said in the meanest voice I
could, "Vernon! You asked me if you beat me fair and square in
that match. Do you still want an answer?" "Yes," said Vernon.
"Why you wet nosed, two bit little punk, you couldn't whip me in
ten years. So don't go spouting off about going into that
saloon!" I yelled at him. He tried to get away from me but I
grabbed him and shoved him up against the stairs. “Now, you shut
up and listen!” I stated. I put a softer look on my face as I
said my next words, and my voice grew quieter, “I want you to
stay here. If I don't come back, that boy of mine is your
responsibility. You get on our horses and get out of here. Do
you understand? I'm not askin' you Vernon.....I'm tellin' ya'."
He agreed. I went
over to Mark and told him to get the horses packed and to wait
for me. I could tell my boy was scared and didn’t want me to go.
I didn’t say so, but there was a chance I wouldn’t come back. I
bent down to get eye-level with my boy and looked straight into
his eyes so that he knew I loved him. We stared deeply into each
other’s eyes for a few seconds. There was nothing I could say. I
grabbed my rifle and headed out without another word. As I
walked toward the saloon, I cocked my rifle.
waiting and watching for Vernon. Carl told Big Jim that it was
me coming to face him. They had a plan in order. When one of his
men passed me a drink they were supposed to fire on me.
walked into the saloon, walked up to the bar, and laid my rifle
down, keeping my hand on the lever. I told Big Jim I came for
the boy's money.
“Well,” said one of his men with a smirk on
his face. “It looks like they sent a man to do a boy’s job.”
Big Jim didn’t move. “You have a choice, McCain. You can
walk out of here and walk out of town or hang tuff and face
I was onto their plan. “Well,” I stated with
a serious look on my face. “A proposition like that deserves a
little thought.” I started sizing up of the situation right
then. He offered me a drink. I agreed, knowing what would come
Just then one of Big Jim’s men slid the whiskey bottle
down the bar. As the bottle slid, I shot it POW! It shattered
and killed the man at the table.
I flew under the bar and
cocked my rifle. Carl then drew on me and I shot him POW! The
cowboy sitting at the table drew on me and I shot him POW!
Another man ran out the side door, I shot at him POW! I missed!
I stayed hidden behind the bar as I cocked my rifle again.
Now, it was all between me and Big Jim. I managed to shoot Big
Jim POW! I only wounded him. The man who had run out the door
came at me from behind the door and started shooting at me.
Suddenly a shot rang out from behind me – a shot that killed the
man behind the door. I turned to see Vernon standing there. He
hadn’t obeyed my orders. Big Jim took this opportunity to shoot
Vernon. I simply turned around and pulled the trigger POW! That
shot killed him.
It was all over.
I quickly laid down
my rifle and went to check on Vernon. His face showed signs of
pain, but I was relieved to find that he was only shot in the
wrist. It looked like Vernon's shooting days might be over, but
this was something Vernon couldn’t face, so he insisted it would
I saw the Marshal and doctor come in, and I
didn’t want another confrontation, so I turned to leave, but
Vernon stopped me. He had a pleading look on his face, as if he
wasn’t sure where he was going to go from here. "Mr. McCain,
will you do me a favor? If that boy of yours…Mark...ever gets
any funny ideas, you tell him that I said he was the lucky one."
That made me proud, and I smiled at him. I gave him a pat and
said, "Alright I will. Good Luck to you son!"
As I was
walking out, I saw Mark obediently waiting for me by the horses.
I know he was anxiously waiting, wondering if I was one of the
victims. I could tell he was afraid I had been killed, because
tears were streaming down my boy’s cheeks. When I saw that, I
tried to smile. I loved that boy! I saw a relieved look replace
the fear as he realized I was okay. I walked towards him and he
ran into my waiting arms. We hugged and kissed each other, happy
that God had allowed us to stay together and see us through
another ordeal. “Are the horses ready?” I asked Mark. Mark
suddenly got a sad look on his face. He didn’t want to leave
anymore than I did. But I didn’t feel we were welcome in this
As we made our way for
the horses, Judge Hanavan approached us and told us that North
Fork could use people like us in this new growing town. I smiled
and turned to Mark, bending down and smiling at him. I asked him
a silly question. “What do you say, son? You still want that
ranch?” His only reply? “Yahoo!” Then we put our arms around
each other and walked back towards the hotel with the judge to
buy our ranch.
*Sam Peckinpah was the creator of The
Rifleman and he wrote The Sharpshooter — Home
He wrote & directed The Marshal —
The Boarding House — The Money Gun — The
Erickson played Big Jim Lewis in this episode of The
appeared in two episodes ― The Sharpshooter as Vernon Tippert,
he was the young sharpshooter —
The Three-Legged Terror as Johnny
Clover, a teenager who vandalizes the classroom in the North
played Judge Hanavan in three episodes ― The Sharpshooter ―
The Safe Guard ―
I really liked this character. Too bad he didn't do more
on The Rifleman.
Charles Arnt played Wes
Tippert, Vernon's Uncle. In the original script Wes was
described as a tall, wiry old man, grey-haired, dust-grayed
clothes, dirty hands, red drinker's face (as if we could tell in
black & white), flabby stomach — an old fat man growing thin.
Armstrong played Sheriff/Marshal Fred Tomlinson in two
episodes — The Sharpshooter
and The Marshal.
Do you remember what happened to him
in The Marshal?
appeared in four episodes ― The Sharpshooter as Nancy
Hanavan, the clerk at the hotel ― The Actress as the Landlady,
she was the lady who tended Jacob until Lucas could fetch his
wife ― Eddie's Daughter as the lady who was talking to Eddie before the stage came in -
she gasped when she saw Lil stepped off the stage ― The Angry Gun
as Mrs. Peterson, the lady who took care of Mark until Lucas
Mickey Simpson appeared in two
episodes ― The Sharpshooter as Carl Lamprey, he's the
cowboy that got Lucas' rifle barrel in his stomach ― The Indian
Tub, he was the one who grabbed Mark and
called him a liar when Mark left it slip about Deputy United States Marshal
being an Indian.
Aldridge as the waitress in the restaurant of the hotel.
Matthew McCue has appeared in two episodes ―
The Sharpshooter as a townsman
― The Photographer
as a juror.
Howard Wright as the man standing by the target.
John Baron appeared in five
episodes ― The Sharpshooter as a Townsman ―
Eddie's Daughter as a Townsman ―
Heller as a Townsman ― The Lonesome Bride as a
Barfly ― Meeting at Midnight as a Townsman.
George Sowards appeared in six
episodes ― The Sharpshooter as a barfly ― The Fourflusher as one of the townsmen ―
The Promoter as a boxing spectator ― The Clarence Bibs
Story as one of the townsmen ― The Queue as
one of the townsmen ― End of the Hunt as one of the
townsmen ― Which Way'd They Go? as one of the townsmen.
Butler as Abe, one of Big Jim's men — Stuntman — Stunt
coordinator — Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then
anybody with the exception of the regular cast and he probably
was in more episode then some of them. ~Arnold
Remember him in The Sharpshooter?
Remember when Lucas shot the whiskey bottle and it shattered
into pieces? Archie was the cowboy who slid the whiskey
bottle to Lucas.
Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul
Bobby Somers — has
done many of stunts in his day. He worked with some of the best!
Sadly Bobby went unaccredited in most of his movies/shows. His
list of credits is way to far to list. Please checkout
Bobby Somers for a list of his credits.
Bobby is known for his stunts, Bobby did a lot of different
thing such as Miscellaneous Crew and Acting.
appeared in twenty-three episodes as Johnny Crawford's stuntman. Not sure who doubled for Johnny in the episode of
Requiem at Mission Springs but he is a possibility, especially after that bad tumble Mark took.
Sharpshooter was originally an episode from the Zane
Grey Theater. This particular episode was the pilot for
The Rifleman. The Rifleman made its debut March 17,
1958. The first episode was written by Sam Peckinpah. He
originally done this script for Gunsmoke, but was
turned down and was told it was a piece of crap! He had thought
that this was one of the best things he had written. So he took
it back and reworked it. Dick Powell at Four Stars Production
bought it as the pilot for The Rifleman. Thank goodness
for Dick Powell, we may have never known Chuck Connors as
Did you know the original title for
The Sharpshooter was called The Shooting Match?
Did you know that originally Lucas was to have a six
shooter and that It was Arnold Laven who came up with the idea
of Lucas having a son. Lucas had to have a reason to throw the
contest. Otherwise he would have bucked up against Big Jim Lewis
& his men.
So if the Turkey shoot was on October 12 —
the McCain's must have gotten into North Fork on the 11th of
October — but the plaque on their house said it was rebuilt
In the original script Lucas' name was
suppose to be John. Lucas was a tall man, about forty—heavy-set,
Indian quiet—a man of wry humor, easy friendliness and sudden
In the first episode The Sharpshooter
~ Lucas didn't have Razor—When Lucas & Mark came to North
Fork.....what horse was Lucas riding?
Madera House was the California
North Fork Saloon was Last Chance Saloon owned by
Big Jim Lewis. That means that Eddie and Sweeney came to North
Fork after The Rifleman. They must have bought these
from the estate of Big Jim Lewis.
episode versus Home Ranch
In the original script
Big Jim Lewis and his brother Tom ran North Fork. He even had
lines. They never acknowledge a brother or anybody by the name
of Tom. His lines were said by Big Jim.
Sharpshooter.....what were the rules for the shooting
This is the target that Lucas shot when he threw the
What was the first meal Mark ordered at the hotel?
was the doctor with the little black bag in the saloon looking
at Vernon's hand? How many doctors has North Fork had?
original script first came out ― Mark called Lucas Dad instead
of Pa. Do you remember which episodes it was that Mark really
did call Lucas Dad by mistake.....they never cut it out?
Anonymous ― Read some neat info.
Liked the one about Johnny's parents deciding NOT
to do the show after they said Johnny would do it because they
were afraid of all the lines he would have to learn week after
week, and the horse riding and how the producers solved the
problem. I think for his parents encouraging Johnny and Bobby in
the business they were also smart and loving parents…not pushy
"stage parents” willing to push their child for the bottom line
or dollar. Also did I read a quote from Johnny that he said his
dog bit a hole in his hat dog bit a hole in his hat? was that the hat and the hole we saw
him wear for so many years?
Did you ever wonder what happen to Vernon
Tippert? Where did he go, what did he do? Here is a great story
based on this episode when Vernon returns to North Fork, it's
Vernon by Michelle Palmer. What a great
story, I know you will really enjoy this!
Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index
Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and wondered who is that
Bloopers for this
episode & other episodes
Chit Chat on bloopers and things worth mentioning!
around The McCain Ranch