Getting Western with Cowboy Action Shooting

Working a Stage
Stages are set up much like a 3-gun match only Old West-style.

We shoot through windows and doors, off of wagons and horses (not real horses unless your mounted shooting), and move from spot to spot between firearms.

A typical cowboy stage will start out with some kind of scenario like you’re tending cattle on the range and the bad guys are going to rustle your cows. There may or may not be a line that you have to recite to start the timer, and when the timer rings you go.

Firing pistols may be first, and you have to shoot them in the order mandated by the scenario. Usually it will be 10 shots on steel targets then you might move to another spot to shoot the rifle, then the shotgun. The rifle targets are usually a bit farther out and the shotgun can be stationary steel, knockdowns, or clay flyers.

Misses are a 5-second penalty added to the time from start to last shot and failure to shoot the stage in the manner of the scenario is a procedural error, which adds 10 seconds.

Scores are added up by overall raw time, which starts at the buzzer and runs to the last shot.

It’s amazing the stress the timer puts on the shooter. The idea is to finish in the fastest time, which isn’t always attributed to shooting faster. A bunch of time can be made up by smooth transitions from gun to gun and moving from position to position.

Always Welcome
New shooters, especially new female shooters are always welcome and every shooter will help them break into this new sport. Even veterans will get the cowboy helping hand. If your gun goes down, there is always a cowboy who will loan you one to finish the match. He or she will even keep the friendly cowboy smile when you shoot a bit faster than they do.

If you really want to have a good time, dust off that old wheel, lever and shotgun and get out to a cowboy match. It’s extremely addictive and loads of fun. If you don’t have all the guns go to a match anyway I will bet someone will loan you a gun and encourage you to shoot a stage. Take the opportunity and get a little western.

Editor’s note, this article appeared in the June 17, 2013 Gun Digest Magazine

Recommended Resources

Percussion Revolvers

Find Cowboy Action Shooting right up your alley? Then you’re certain to enjoy the Handbook of Modern Percussion Revolvers. This richly illustrated volume is perfect if you own a percussion revolver, want how-to on percussion revolvers or would like to learn more about historic percussion revolvers. Also check out our Blackpowder books, as well.