Cowboy 101

The purpose of this outline is to prepare you for your first Cowboy Action Shoot.

What is Cowboy Action Shooting?
A. Shooting Stages of fire using steel targets with 2 Pistols, 1 Rifle, and 1 Shotgun.
B. You are timed from the start beep of the timer to your last shot on each stage.
C. You will be scored by your total time plus 5 seconds per missed target +10 seconds per penalty.
D. Your guns, clothing, and style of shooting will depend on the shooting class/category you select.
E. CAS is a sport that encompasses old western type guns, clothing, and the good 'ole "cowboy way".

Choosing a shooting Category
A. There are categories for various age groups.
B. Do yo uenjoy dressinng up cowboy style? There are 2 special categories for specific western wear.
C. There are Men's, Women's, and Young adult (Buckaroo), Categories.
D. Black Powder cartridge, Cap & Ball, and Smokeless Powder Cartridge.
E. There 3 categories for shooting with one hand unsupported. Other categories use two hands.
F. Some categories use only certain styles Rifle or Shotgun types.

Guns / Gear / Ammo
Chosen a category? Here's what you'll need next...
A. 2 Pistols, 1 Rifle, and 1 Shotgun
B. Ammo = You'll need a minimum of 60 rounds for your pistols, 60 rounds for your rifle, and 25 rounds for your shotgun. This is for a 6 stage local match. During the hot summer months in south Florida, we typically shoot only 5 stages. You'll often need more (for reshoots) so in either season, we still recommend 60/60/25 for any given match. You will NOT want magnum loads. Light loads are best and shotgun light #7.5 or #8 shot. C. Holster and belt rig for two pistols. Strong side... weak side? Just ask and we'll help you choose.
D. You will need a belt or slide for your shotgun ammo.
E. An ammo case/box, small bag, or cartridge loading strip for your stage ammo at the loading table.
F. Personal safety equipment: Wrap around glasses or side shields. Ear plugs.
G. Cowboy clothes: Hat, Boots, Long sleeve shirt. No ball caps. No gym shoes/sneakers, except where allowed for special themed events.
H. A gun cart to store your firearms, ammo, and other miscelaneous necessities. If you're new to CAS, ask to share or use a club cart. The Gold Coast Gunslinger members are always happy to share to help get you started!

Cowboy Alias (your new name)
A. You won’t need one right away... you can use your name at first at a club match. You will, however, need to come up with a catchy alias that you will register with SASS. It can be...
B. Old TV show hero or villain.
C. An historic figure (prefereable western).
D. A catchy, clever play on words such as Packin Pete, Slo2Reload, Sidewinder Sam, Imma Deadeye, etc. Remember, you will need to register this name with SASS. Folks will get to know you by your alias so pick one that will stick. You can go on line to the SASS home and check the list of already used names to ensure that your selection is available. Click HERE to see if your selected alias has already been taken.

What to Expect at a CAS Match
A. At your very first shoot, leave your guns in your vehicle while you sign up for the shoot. Ask if you need to share or use a gun cart. Find out what number Posse you are shooting on.

B. Once signed in, get your gear on and ready up. IMPORTANT: When you take your guns to a match make sure they are unloaded at home BEFORE you pack them so when you take them out at the match, all you do is put your pistols directly into your holsters without any dry firing, pointing, or unsafe handling. Always keep the muzzle of your guns pointed up or down. If you have a cart, remove the long guns from the case and OPEN the action keeping the barrel pointed up while doing it and place it muzzle up in your cart. Check that you have a sufficient amount of ammo in your cart. Be sure that you have ear plugs (if you do not we can provide them for you), and put on your shooting glasses.

C. Shooters Safety Meeting is just before they posse up and start shooting and you must attend. Let the Match Director and your Posse leader know that it is your first or second shoot, as most clubs will want to check your ability and knowledge of the safety rules.

D. POSSE UP: You are a part of a shooting group at one of the stages of fire, called a Posse. ALL posse members have a job to do and help the posse shoot the stage. A Posse has a Range Officer, Scorer, 3 spotters, a safety person at the loading and unloading tables. Other Possie chores include picking up brass and resetting the steel knockdowns. There are typically 3 or 4 shooters at the loading table getting ready. That’s a minimum of 11 shooters working together on a posse. You, as a new shooter, will be most helpful when not shooting to be helping pick up brass and resetting the shotgun poppers/knockdowns. Spotting is also a great way to help out and will effectively help you to become more familiar with the stage shooting sequence before you are up!

E. A posse member will read the stage description that tells you how many pistol, rifle and shotgun rounds the stage needs to shoot it. They will read the shooting order for your guns and the order that you will shoot the targets. This is where misses and procedural penalties come in if you shoot targets out of order or use the wrong firearm. Don’t worry it’s easy, just be safe!

F. In some clubs and in most all state matches, the scorer will read off the shooting order. Remain helping the posse but be ready when they say say that you're on deck. At that time, get your ammo and guns safely to the loading table. When no shooting order is assigned and you see the loading table near empty, grab your guns and head to the table so as to keep the process moving along. Never rush or shoot in a hurry, but do note that there will often be other possies behind you ready to move to your stage, so consistent and efficient flow is essential.

G. Load your pistols with only 5 rounds (NEVER 6) with the hammer down on an empty chamber and do not holster them, but leave them on the table MUZZEL POINTED DOWN RANGE. CLOSE the action of your rifle and with your thumb, lower the hammer. With the muzzle pointed down range, load the required amount of rounds in your rifle tube (typically 10). DO NOT LEVER A ROUND. Place your shotgun open and empty on the table and DO NOT LOAD YOUR SHOTGUN.

H. RO will call you to the firing line when you’re up. Only at this time will you safely place your pistols in the holsters. Do not cock them, and keep your hands off of the hammers and triggers. When called, you then will pick up your rifle and shotgun with the muzzles up and carry them to the line. You will stage your guns and yourself in the start area. RO will ask ARE YOU READY or SHOOTER READY? When you are, you will reply YES, or READY, or SHOOTER READY, or whatever the "line" may be for the given stage. The RO will say STAND BY…. and you begin shooting your stage when you hear the BEEP!
NOTE: When shooting you never move with the guns COCKED. You never point any barrel to the side breaking the 170%. When you finish shooting your Rifle and Shotgun, you must leave the action OPEN. When you’re finished shooting the RO will instruct you, if your finished, to go safely to the unloading table. There you will unload your pistols and show the pard at the unloading table that each gun is empty BEFORE you holster and carry your long guns to the cart. You will want to concentrate on being SAFE in your actions and gun handling.

A. NEVER CROSS OR MOVE IN FRONT OF THE FIRING LINE. Never remove your pistols from their holsters after removing from your cart. The guns only come out from your cart to go to the loading table and then from the unloading table to your cart after they are checked to be empty. B. Yellow or Red Flag means there is no handling of firearms and stand back from Loading table.

Age Group Categories -- The shooting categories and their age groups (for both men and women) are:
- 13& under: Buckaroo
- 14-16: Young Gun
- 17-35: Cowboy
- 36-48: Wrangler
- 49-59: 49er
- 60-64: Senior
- 65-69: Silver Senior
- 70+: Elder Statesman

In the Age Group Categories, you may use single-action type pistols with adjustable sights (like the Ruger Blackhawk) and/or any fixed-sight single-action pistol using a two-handed hold to shoot, and any SASS approved rifle and shotgun.

Some other categories include:
Duelist: Fixed sighted pistols shot using one hand, not braced, and any SASS approved rifle and shotgun. Costume can be any cowboy clothes desired. Only one loaded gun may be out of holster at any time.

Gunfighter: Fixed sighted pistols both drawn at the same time and fired alternately and any SASS approved rifle and shotgun. Costume can be any cowboy clothes desired. This category may also shoot Double Duelist.

Classic Cowboy: Fixed sighted pistols shot duelist style (single hand unsupported). The rifle must be an 1860, 1866 or 1873 actual or replica. Shotgun must be an exposed hammered side-by-side (SXS) or the 1887 Lever shotgun (actual or replica). Pistols and rifle must be .40 cal., .44 cal., or .45 cal. The Classic Cowboy has a list of clothing and accouterments he must wear (see SASS Handbook under SASS Rules).

Frontier Cartridge: Fixed sighted pistols shot with two handed hold, and any SASS approved rifle and shotgun. All loaded with BP or a Sub. Rifle and pistols MUST have a minimum of 1 cc of powder in each cartridge. Costume can be any cowboy clothes desired.

Frontiersman: Fixed sighted Cap & Ball pistols shot Duelist style. Any SASS approved rifle and a SXS shotgun is mandatory. Costume can be any cowboy clothes desired.

Above courtesy of George Emmett & Huckleberry, Bristol Plains Pistoleros

Classes are occasionally offered at the range by Jeremiah Longknife for gunners who are new to Cowboy Action Shooting. Jeremiah has been known to accommodate one-on-one training as well so if you’re eager to learn the ropes and become a safer and better shooter, give him a holler!