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.