Virginia City gunslingers promote gunfights and gun safety

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF

Looking like he's just stepped out of the Old West of 125 years ago, R.T. Carlyle has a fair resemblance to Wild Bill Hickok, a gunfighter he often portrays.

Originally from Florida, Carlyle came to Nevada about nine years ago and began his career under the tutelage of Sandy Scardina, the founder of the original Nevada Gunslingers, who died last year.

"I learned a lot from Sandy," said Carlyle, "as a matter of fact, a lot of the guys in this business owe Sandy a debt of gratitude."

About six years ago, Carlyle formed the Virginia City Gunslingers & Saloon Girls. The company currently has about 18 members and puts on about 30 shows a year.

"I write most of the material that goes into our skitsa" says Carlyle, "We try to keep it light, where everyone is having fun. But our main goal is teaching gun safety to kids when we're performing on the streets. We want them to know that we are performing actors recreating gunfights, and that real guns with real bullets are dangerous and are to be left alone.

"All of our members carry a card issued by the Storey County Sheriff's Department stating that we are certified and are in compliance with the laws of the county.

"In addition, we carry insurance on the entire troupe, so our expenses are quite formidable. Our only source of income is through donations from the audience. But most times that barely covers the cost of our costumes, ammo and gas to put on a show, so it's a good thing we all like what we do."

Carlyle and his life partner, Marti Green, have performed on stage numerous times. He will perform this year at the Gold Hill Hotel in a play he wrote titled "The Assassination of Wild Bill Hickok and the Trial of Jack McCall."

McCall put a bullet in the back of Hickok's head in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, in 1876. Hickok was in a poker game at the No. 10 Saloon, holding a pair of aces and eights, when he was killed. The hand became known thereafter as a "dead man's hand."

Carlyle, like so many who enjoy portraying characters of long ago, believes he was born about 150 years too late.

"I would have liked to have lived in that time period," he said. "It was an exciting time in this country, and that's why I love what we do. I can see myself and the troupe doing this for a long time to come."

The Virginia City Gunslingers & Saloon Girls play mostly in Virginia City during the summer, but also do shows throughout Northern Nevada.


The Virginia City Gunslingers & Saloon Girls will perform at the Virginia City Camel Races Sept. 5-7. The group also hires out for weddings, parties and film work. Call 853-1809.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment