First shot from my 8mm film taken in Tombstone on October 26, 1981. All Images Courtesy Bob Boze Bell and True West Archives

Funny what a hunch can produce.

I didn’t see any ads or notices about the event in Tombstone. I just knew I had to be there, in the corral, for the centennial of the Earp-Clanton gunfight on October 26, 1981. So, on a hunch, I simply got in my Ford F-150, dropped my daughter off at Grandma’s house in Tucson, drove down to Tombstone and went straight to the O.K. Corral. Turns out, I wasn’t alone. So many people I met that day had a profound influence on my future. To say the event changed my life is almost an understatement.


Historian Ben Traywick (second from left) was Wyatt Earp at the centennial of the famous Earp-Clanton gunfight.


Actor and future Gunfighter Museum founder Richard Ignarski poses in the corral during the centennial event.


Here is just a partial list of the people who had the same hunch as me: Bob McCubbin, Jeff Morey, Richard Ignarski, John Bianchi, Ben Traywick and Phil Spangenberger. Turns out they each had the same love for the same history as I did.

Fast forward: in 1999, Bob McCubbin and I made the decision to buy True West magazine over breakfast in the O.K. Cafe (kitty-corner from the O.K. Corral). Richard Ignarski opened the Gunfighter Museum in Tombstone, Jeff Morey helped me reconstruct a step-by-step analysis of the fight in my Doc Holliday book, John Bianchi became one of our biggest supporters in the magazine (see his ad on page 82) and Phil Spangenberger became our firearms editor in 2003.


Phil Spangenberger (center) with fellow unknown reenactors at the O.K. Corral Centennial.


Since then, Phil has written almost 200 columns and features for True West, including two more in this issue, pages 30 Mr. Authenticity and 58 Old West Classics Remain Popular. We are proud to name our friend, Phil Spangenberger as the recipient of our True Westerner Award for 2022 (see article).


The Renegades
Because of the 1981 event, I met even more Tombstone history buffs, and by 1994 we were making annual trips to the O.K. Corral and called ourselves “The Renegades.” Standing from left: Bob McCubbin, Jim Dunham, Bob Palmquist and Jeff Morey. Kneeling: Allen Barra, Paul Northrop, Casey Tefertiller and BBB. Photo by Wyatt Earp (I’m not joking!)


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