Getting Western with Cowboy Action Shooting

Authenticity plays a large role in Cowboy Action Shooting, with competitions held in Old West settings and competitors donning the garb of the day.

Authenticity plays a large role in Cowboy Action Shooting, with competitions held in Old West settings and competitors donning the garb of the day. (photo by Sara Norman)

Many years ago a few IPSC shooters came up with an idea to shoot a competition using only outdated Old West-type guns.

They thought it would be fun shooting stages with six guns instead of using the new fangled eight shooter. Then they thought, why not take it a step further and get dressed up into clothing of the period? From there, the idea of shooting stages built to resemble old saloons and jails and using additional guns from the period such as a lever rifle and old double-barreled shotguns came about.

In the end, they had developed one of the newest and fastest growing sports today. They had created Cowboy Action Shooting. I don’t know if it came together precisely in that order but, the end result has been an action-packed series of events that are all about having fun, and in that department, they certainly deliver.

What is Cowboy Action Shooting?
Cowboy Action Shooting is organized by SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) and offers many shooting categories that differ from the types of guns used to the styles of clothing worn. It even offers the opportunity for participants to have an Old West alias.

The first main rule is the only firearms permitted for use must be guns of 1898 vintage or earlier and includes two single-action revolvers, a lever-action pistol caliber rifle and either a side-by-side shotgun or a pump or lever shotgun.

The side-by-side can be hammer or hammerless with no ejectors, but the pump must have a hammer like the Winchester 1897. Pumps are only loaded with two rounds at a time to eliminate any advantage they might otherwise offer over those using double shooters.

The six guns are loaded with five rounds so that the hammer rests on an empty chamber. This is the way they were carried in the Old West because they didn’t have safety bars as we do today in the Ruger Vaquero and other reproductions.

Shooting styles range from Traditional, which is shooting each pistol one at a time with a two-handed hold to Duelist, holding one pistol at a time one handed, or even Gunfighter, which is a pistol in each hand being fired using alternating shots.

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