These pages celebrate one of the most exciting and enjoyable hobbies in the world--Cowboy Action Shooting ®, a sport whose members belong to the Single Action Shooting Society® and other similar groups.
First, let me introduce myself. I'm Three Eyed Willy. That's my alias, anyway. I belong to The Single Action Shooting Society®, the Tejas Pistoleros and the Texas Historical Shootist Society. All of these clubs are Cowboy Action Shooting® organizations.
Cowboy Action Shooting ®--CAS, for short--is a sport for young and old. It glorifies the Old West, and it teaches a way of life that has all but vanished from our society during the 20th century.
When I was a child I listened to the radio, afternoons and Saturdays, and marveled at the wonders of the Old West and the cowboys--the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, the Cisco Kid and Pancho and the rest of the great western heroes. Later, when they appeared on television, I enjoyed them even more.
These heroes, along with my parents, taught me the fundamentals of doing the right thing, being responsible for my own acts, sticking up for truth and justice, and how to treat other people, especially the elderly and ladies.
Some people call this "The Cowboy Way."
They also taught me to handle firearms responsibly.
Cowboy Action Shooting also does all of this--and more!
Why Cowboy Action Shooting is Fun
This is one of those things that, to a participant, is pretty obvious, but here goes!
First thing, is that you get to dress up in Western clothes. That's one of the really big things about it--it's almost like playing "Cowboys and Indians"--I mean "Cowpersons and Native Americans"--for grownups.
Each participant chooses a character, who may be based on an historical figure, a movie cowboy or cowgirl, or any other "Old West" kind of person. Each participant also has a unique alias or character name, which belongs to him or her as long as they are active in the organization. And each participant "suits up" in a way befitting his or her alter ego. (The highlighted words will link you to some pages that will give you some hints that will help you with this.)For some pictures of me in my shooting outfit, click here.
For more information on choosing a character, click here.
For more information on choosing an alias, click here.
For more information on costuming, including ways to keep within a small budget, click here.
Next comes the crucial difference that separates CAS from the kid's game--guns!. That's right! We use REAL GUNS!
Each participant needs 2 revolvers, a rifle and a shotgun. There is a great amount of flexibility on these. A visit to the SASS on line handbook page will explain the options on these, as well as other aspects of the sport.
By the way, don't let the fact that you need 4 firearms frighten you off. You don't need to buy them all at once. If you go to a CAS event only partially armed, chances are that someone will let you borrow a gun that you need.
Most shooters also have a gun cart to carry their guns and other equipment. Some of these are quite ornate. To see what mine looks like, click here.
Links to sites of interest
For links of items and articles related to Cowboy Action Shooting®, click here.
But Wait!!! Isn't This a Dangerous Sport?
Well, it can be. However, CAS® participants are meticulous about gun safety.
All actual shooting is done on a closely supervised gun range. But the gun ranges, themselves, provide one of the other crucial differences between CAS® and regular target shooting.
CAS® is a fun sport, and in that spirit, the ranges or stages, as they are called in the sport, resemble a movie set or an old western town, more than a normal gun range. There are steel targets that represent villains, building facades that look like saloons, banks, sheriff's offices, etc. There are plywood sihouette "hostages"--sometimes stationary, sometimes moving. All of these add to the spirit of the sport.
And the shooting sequence follows a script. For example, in one match that I read about, the shooter started by putting on a mask and shouting "Hi ho Silver, away!" This started the clock. Then he had to shoot 10 revolver targets, 5 rifle targets and a series of shotgun targets, from several different positions. In some scenarios, one or more of the guns may be at a remote location that is part of the range, so the shooter may have to shoot one revolver, run over to a card table to pick up a second revolver, run to another shooting station to pick up his rifle, and to yet another to get his shotgun. His shells may be in still another location! This is interesting and exciting stuff!
What about gun safety?
Because we are responsible gun owners, there are several rules that we follow. First, we observe the standard gun safety rules that are observed at other shooting ranges and events. When guns are not actually being used, they are either cased, sitting with actions open or in a safe location with the barrels pointing in a safe direction. If we are carrying pistols, they are empty and holstered with the hammers tied down. Only registered shooters are allowed to carry pistols at events.
We don't do any kind of shooting that requires pointing a firearm at a live target of any kind. In fact, we never draw across the 180 degree line that is the shooting line. Our angle of safety is a 170 degree angle--that's 85 degrees off either side of the axis. When drawing from a cross draw holster, we pivot the body so that the gun is in a safe position, and then draw it, and pivot the body back to the correct stance.
I prefer the other method that is also safe--I shoot with either hand!
We are also very particular about common sense regarding the use of alcoholic beverages and drugs that might affect someone's judgment and ability to shoot--if you drink, you don't shoot!--that's it! So stick to sarsaparilla!
What about women and children?
Many ladies participate in CAS. In fact, there are special ladies events. In many of them, they get the upper hand on men. And there are many families that participate in CAS. But the laws requring proper supervision of minors apply to and are observed by CAS groups, just as they are by any other shooting club that follows the law.
In addition to the shooting, there are also other activities for the whole family. There is entertainment, cooking, food, refreshments and even the occasional merchant peddling his/her wares.
So if you want to have fun, and be a responsible gun owner and user--try Cowboy Action Shooting.
For more information about Cowboy Action Shooting, including lots of links, and merchants, contact the Single Action Shooting Society® , The Tejas Pistoleros Shooting Club, or The Texas Historical Shootist Society.
Don't Let This Sport Be Legislated Out of Existence
One sad note--some people want to keep responsible gun owners from participating in this sport. They feel that the mere presence of a single firearm anywhere in the country poses an immediate threat to them.
What we do is safe, fun and educational. Cowboy Action Shooting® shows how guns can be used recreationally, without harming anyone--and, in doing so, they remind us of valid moral values which are good for even the 21st century and beyond.
To understand more about our civil rights concerning firearms, click here.
Once you have acquired your firearms, it really helps to know how to maintain them and how to do minor repairs. To help you with this, there is an on-line forum at the SASS web site, that you can join, once you have acquired a membership in SASS®
Banner photos by Leon "Gray Beard" Ashton +
© 1999 Bill Palmer. To reproduce this page contact Bill Palmer.