Cowboy Action Shooting: Getting Started

By Jim Taylor (J Bar T)
SASS #53379

     I suppose almost all shooters have heard of Cowboy Action Shooting by now.  One the fastest (if not the fastest) growing segments of the Shooting Sports, Cowboy Action continues to attract new shooters even though it has been around for a long time. Inspired by the movie “The Wild Bunch” a group of shooters in California began shooting “cowboy style” on a regular basis in the 1970’s.   The idea continued to grow and spread and the result was the formation of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), the original and largest of the Cowboy Action organizations today with over 50,000 members.

     The firearms used are limited to firearms or replicas thereof, of the kind produced before 1899.  Handguns are limited to single action revolvers.  Rifles can be either lever action or slide action but both must have exposed hammers and must be in “pistol” calibers.  Shotguns can be either double barrel (external hammers or “hammerless”) or slide action (with a hammer) of the types made before 1899.  They cannot be larger than 10 ga. nor can they have barrels shorter than 18”.  Ammunition for the handguns and rifles are limited to lead bullets at very moderate velocities.  Shotguns are limited to “low brass” lead shot loads with #4 birdshot or smaller.

     The various Cowboy Action organizations may have slightly different rules in some area, but those are the basics.  There are Side Matches for Buffalo Rifles or “Long Range” rifles as they are called.    There are also Side Matches involving Pocket Pistols and Derringers.  The combinations and how they are used in a match are almost endless and always entertaining.   One thing about Cowboy Action that makes it attractive to new shooters, it’s fun to watch!
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