COWBOY SASS – Single Action Shooting Society


While on vacation recently, my husband and I spent a morning visiting the Arizona Cowboy Shooters Association in action. Every second Saturday, enthusiasts of period weapons, dedicated to preserving and promoting the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting gather together to talk history, weapons and shooting.

The Single Action Shooting Society–SASS–is for folks who “…share a common interest in preserving the history of the Old West and competitive shooting.”  [SASS website, www.sassnet.com.] There are clubs all in all fifty states, andCanada,New Zealand, Europe,Australia andSouth Africa, too.

Personally, spending a Saturday or two a month enjoying the sport of shooting sounds like a lot of fun. And every club member we met agreed. The day consists of target shooting with revolvers, a shotgun, and a lever-action rifle.

“Cowboy Action Shooting is a multi-faceted shooting sport in which contestants compete with firearms typical of those used in the taming of the Old West: single action revolvers, pistol caliber lever action rifles, and old time shotguns.” [www.sassnet.com]

Every member of the ACSA carried reproduction or original period firearms. There were Colt Peacemakers,Winchester1873s, Model No. 3 “Russians” (pictured to the left), Model 1873 repeating rifles, 1866 “Yellow Boys”… You name it, someone was probably carrying it.

We saw 1897 pump-action and 1887 lever-action shotguns–that one “Terminator” fans would recognize–and lots of double-barreled or side-by-side Coach guns.

There were stations set up on the range, with different targets, arrangements and distances. At one station, participants emptied both revolvers at steel gunslinger- shaped targets, or “steels,” then switched to their rifles and pinged off nine shots at five dinner-plate sized targets from 10 yards away. At the next station, the targets were 25 yards away. And at another, knocking down one “steel” tossed a clay target into the air. Bonus points were awarded for shattering it. There’s also a long-range rifle competition, but we didn’t get up early enough to observe that.

Another fun aspect of the sport is that every participant got to be someone else for a day. “One of the unique aspects of SASS approved Cowboy Action Shooting™ is the requirement placed on costuming. Each participant is required to adopt a shooting alias appropriate to a character or profession of the late 19th century, a Hollywoodwestern star, or an appropriate character from fiction. Their costume is then developed accordingly. Many event participants gain more enjoyment from the costuming aspect of our sport than from the shooting competition, itself. Regardless of a SASS member’s individual area of interest, SASS events provide regular opportunities for fellowship and fun with like-minded folks and families.” [www.sassnet.com]

For sheer fun while shooting, you’d be hard pressed to beat Cowboy Action Shooting. Unless it was mounted cowboy action shooting–but that’s for another post.

Tracy Garrett
History, Texas, cowboys, horses—these are a few of Tracy’s favorite things. Check out her westerns at www.TracyGarrett.com.

10 Comments

  1. Tracy,

    Cowboy SASS sounds like SO much fun!! I love the costuming aspect of it. How fun to sashay in as Calamity Jane and empty the old Colt or Winchester. :o)

    –Kirsten

  2. Sounds like a great time, Tracy. I’ve done a little shooting, but never really got into it. This would make it a party. Are you a good shot?

  3. Kirsten, everybody looked like they were having a great time. By the end of the second stage, we were cheering for all the shooters, too. And we started playing with aliases on the way home. lol

  4. Elizabeth, I’m a reasonably good shot. And I enjoy target shooting. Participating in SASS would give me a good reason to practice.

  5. Tracy, how much fun! I love exhibitions on anything involving the old west. Glad you shared your experiences with us. GREAT post. Hugs, P

  6. Thanks, Phyllis. I highly recommend everyone who loves the old west go to http://www.sassnet.com and look up their local club. You don’t have to shoot – just go watch!

  7. SO awesome, Tracy. I can’t wait to find this place. Thanks for the website. The pix and your experience are just awesome. oxoxo

  8. You will have a blast, Tanya. I promise.

  9. Tracy,
    I had no idea these clubs existed! I love guns–always have been so fascinated by the old ones. I sure loved working in the museum for those 2 years where I could walk around and study the firearms and read about them, etc. This looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for the info and the pictures!
    Cheryl P.

  10. This is something my daughter and her family would enjoy. I wouldn’t mind going to a meet. Would like to participate, but don’t have an appropriate gun or enough experience. I checked their site, and there is one club 60 miles away in NC and one 90 miles away in TN. Will have to check them out.

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