Cowboy Action Shooting – Stacey Coverstone


Hi y’all!  Today I’m writing about Cowboy Action Shooting, one of the fastest growing segments of the shooting sports.  This sport has been around since the 1970s when a group of California shooters began shooting “cowboy style.”  The idea grew and spread, leading to the formation of SASS (Single Action Shooting Society).  Today, SASS in an international organization with over 50,000 members, with my husband being one of them. SASS members share a common interest in preserving the history of the Old West and competitive shooting.


One of the unique aspects of Cowboy Action Shooting is the requirement regarding costuming.  During competition, competitors  are required to wear an Old West costume of some sort. Clothing may be historically accurate for the late 19th century or may just be suggestive of the Old West. My husband wears pin-striped pants with suspenders, a shirt with no collar, cowboy boots and hat. SASS puts a great deal of emphasis on costuming because it adds so much to the uniqueness of the game and helps create a festive, informal atmosphere that supports the friendly, fraternal feeling that is encouraged in the competitors.

Each participant is required to adopt a shooting alias appropriate to a character or profession of the late 19th century, a Hollywood western star, or an appropriate character from fiction.  An alias cannot be duplicated and cannot be confused with another  member’s alias. My husband’s alias is The Salinas Kid.  He chose the name because he was born in Salinas, California.

SASS/CAS requires competitors to use firearms typical of the mid-to-late 19th century.  Competition in a match generally requires four guns:  two period single-action revolvers (holstered), a 12-gauge shotgun, and a lever action rifle of the type in use prior to 1899. There are specific standards for ammunition.

Competition involves a number of separate shooting scenarios known as stages.  Each stage typically requires 10 revolver rounds, 9-10 rifle rounds, and 2-8 shotgun rounds.  Typically, targets are steel plates that clang when hit.  In some stages, steel knockdown plates or clay birds are used.   Some elaborate stages include props, such as chuck wagons, stagecoaches, oak barrels, swinging saloon doors, jail cells, etc. Each match is different, but all are timed events.



Another important piece of equipment every cowboy action shooter needs is a cart for toting around his or her firearms and ammo in. Some carts are elaborate (i.e. cactus, tombstone, stagecoach) and are art forms in their own right. But most people are satisfied with a basic 3-wheeled buggy.  That’s what my husband has, and it does the job just fine.

As Cowboy Action Shooting has evolved, the members have developed and adopted an attitude called “The Spirit of the Game.”  It is a code by which they live.  Competing in “The Spirit of the Game” means the member fully participates in what the competition asks:  dressing the part, using the appropriate guns and ammo, and respecting the traditions of the Old West.   If you haven’t checked out an event, I encourage you to do so.  It’s as much fun to watch as it is to participate.



Thanks for stopping by today.  And thanks to the fillies for having me back.  Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered in the contest to win a hardback copy of my newest release, “A Haunted Twist of Fate.”

Feel  free to check out my website for what’s Coming Soon:  “Big Sky” February 10, 2012 and “Tularosa
” sometime in 2012, both from The Wild Rose Press.

Also available for Kindle readers:  “Haunt-A Collection of Short Ghost Stories


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48 thoughts on “Cowboy Action Shooting – Stacey Coverstone”

  1. Very interesting post, Stacey. I have watched this style of shooting on TV and love the style of clothing. My husband has shot black powder and they too dress in costume. I have sewen for the mountain men shoots. We also shoot bow and arrow, so have shot weapons through the years.

  2. Great post! What a neat idea. I have never heard of this type of shooting but it sounds like it would be a lot of fun.I don’t know of anyone doing this type of thing around here. Not saying they don’t just have never heard of it. I haven’t shot a gun in years myself. I did a few times when I was growing up but not since.

  3. Like the post,,my daddy taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl,my brother had no interest,but I went wherever my Daddy went so I learned to shoot,he didnt let me actually hunt with a gun,I got to go with him though,,doesnt hurt to know how to protect yourself if the need arises,my step children who are grown,were amazed that I knew how to shoot,an had a permit to carry in my car,but usually dont,,I look like the mind manner little ole grandma,,,,lol,but Granny packs!

  4. Hi Connie,
    My husband and I shoot bow and arrow, too. Some of the competitors in Paul’s shooting club shoot with black powder. That’s neat that you sew for mountain man shoots. I’ve been to several living history events out west and always enjoy seeing the costumes the reenactors wear.

  5. Good morning Quilt Lady,
    We live in Maryland and there are 6 cowboy action shooting clubs in the state. We’re lucky to have one close to us. Paul’s club shoots at an outdoorsman club about a half an hour from us. We can also camp there in the summertime.

  6. Hi Vickie,
    We have a baby granddaughter, and my husband is already talking about teaching her how to ride his horse, Bill, and shoot when she’s old enough. There are a couple of boys who compete with their fathers in Paul’s club. I think it will be a great bonding experience for grandpa and granddaughter someday. Hopefully she’ll want to be a cowgirl!

  7. Hi Stacey and welcome to the Junction! My hubby and I are planning to get into SASS soon. We spent a few hours with one of the clubs when we were in Phoenix in November. What fun! Nice to know there’s someone I can ask questions.

  8. Hi Tracy,
    Thank you for having me today. You and your hubby should definitely join a club. We like to travel, and Paul is checking out other states where he could compete when we go on vacation in the summer.

  9. I enjoyed reading your post Stacey. I love the requirement of historically accurate clothing for competitors. My husband taught me how to shoot a gun, but I’m cetainly not very good at it!

  10. Hi Lori,
    Seeing everyone in their western clothing is really fun. They sure do get hot in the summertime, though, with their long sleeves and vests. I think it’s great you were willing to let your husband teach you how to shoot. My husband taught me how to drive a stick-shift car when we were engaged and it didn’t work out too well. LOL We’ve done better with guns.

  11. What a fascinating post. A new and intriguing idea which I would love to experience. Many thanks for this introduction.

  12. Hi Stacey,

    Interesting post and SASS sounds like a lot of fun coupled with a lot of skill. And I think it’s great everyone has to dress in Old West style. It would certainly help get everyone in the spirit I would think.

    Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to watch for a SASS event.

  13. Hi Kristen,
    There is tremendous skill involved in this sport, and a lot of rules. They are very serious about making sure no one gets hurt. They are particular about things such as the way to hold your gun when you’re walking around or simply waiting for your turn to compete. It takes a while to catch on to everything. Google SASS and you can find all the locations where events take place.

  14. Hi Stacey,
    Such an interesting post. I didn’t know this competition exsisted. I have a friend training for shooting in the olympics. Congrats on A Haunted Twist of Fate.

  15. Hi, Stacey,

    First, congrats on the good reviews your novel has received!

    I’d like to know more about Cowboy Action Shooting. Where is it most popular?

  16. Thank you so much for sharing with us today… I enjoy learning about things that were unknown to me before. 😀

  17. Hi Jacqueline,
    Cowboy Action Shooting is a national and international sport. People compete all over the world. It’s especially popular in the western U.S. states, but there are enthusiasts all along the east coast as well.

  18. Stacey, I loved your post. I have seen many of these groups that put on shows at different sites here in Kansas. Interesting and fun to watch. Diana

  19. My goodness, this is very interesting. It’s another world basically. I wouldn’t know which is more fascinating, the shooting or the costuming!

  20. Welcome back to P&P, Stacey. Fascinating post!
    I love the picture of those gun carts and all the different styles. I keep meaning to check for events in my area. Looks like a blast to attend, the cowboy version of a Renaissance fair 😉 Thanks for all the great info.

    Cheers on the new books!! Need to check those out too 🙂

  21. I guess they don’t have anything like that back east but it sounds like fun. I’m not big about guns but this seems a lot different – the guns and costumes of yore and clothing too and target shooting. I think that’s wonderful that they are trying to get historical accuracy too. I had never heard of this so if I ever get out west again…

  22. Hi Catslady,
    Where do you live? I live back east in Maryland and we have 6 clubs right here in this state. Cowboy action shooting can be found all over the U.S. The SASS website lists all the events that take place year round. Check it out. You might find a competition close to where you live.

  23. Stacey,
    I loved your article. SASS sounds like a fun time for all involved. I had not heard of SASS. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Thanks for sharing a very interesting past time. It never hurts to have an understanding of what you are writing about. Now I know what SASS is.

  25. Great post. Never heard of SASS but sounds like lots of fun. I am sure that southerns will enjoy SASS since they love to hunt. Thanks for stopping by to chat and share with us. Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.

  26. Hi Stacey–Very interesting article. Would love to see one of these competitions some time. Sounds like a lot of fun! It’s always good to hear about your latest book–keep up the good work.

  27. Thanks os much for sharing! I love anything to do with cowboys pretty much! I think it all stems from watching all those westerns when I was little with my parents. I’ve just always had a fascination with the old west. So thanks for the info. 🙂

  28. Hi Amber,
    I definitely trace my love for cowboys back to the westerns I grew up with. Back then, westerns were prime time TV and we only had 3 channels to choose from on television. They were the good ol’ days.

  29. Hi Stacey,

    I’ve never heard of anything like this! I guess it really brings the historical past crashing (or shooting) 😉 right into reality!

  30. Thanks for an interesting post. I checked the SASS site and found several chapters within 2 hours of us. My son-in-law has the guns required and to my surprise, he and my daughter knew about SASS. They do not participate, they don’t really have the time at the moment. She does know several people in our area that are members of the closest chapter. If their meets are open to the public, it would be fun to go and watch.

    I am glad you have found something you really enjoy. Best of luck with the release of you two new books coming out this year. I hope A HAUNTED TWIST OF FATE is doing well.

  31. Interesting post! We lived in Arizona for 6 years and I always wanted to visit Tombstone but we never got a chance! I have always been intrigued by the Old West and love to read books that deal with that time period. It was interesting to read your post. I had no idea they do that kind of thing! Thanks for enlightening me! Your book sounds interesting too!

  32. Hi Stacey, sorry to be so late getting here to say howdy to my wonderful Bandera friend. Hi to your handsome hubby, too. This is a terrific post and something I’d like to see. Gotta have the costumes! The only shooting I’ve ever done was in Bandera at the gun range. I was pretty good with the Peacemaker!

    Love the book cover and can’t wait to read your latest. Best wishes always!

  33. Stacey,

    What a great post! I enjoyed learning about the Cowboy Shooting Society, and I partiuclarly enjoyed the image of the lady in a long dress with a pistol slapped on her waist. What fun!

    Maggie from Five Star

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