Well–I did it. Or, I should say, we did it. My husband and I joined The Single Action Shooting Society, or SASS. It is an organization full of folks who love the Old West and want to relive just a little of it while making and enjoying new friends.
Last Saturday was our first “shoot.” We’ve been gathering old west-style weapons–two revolvers, a rifle and a shotgun. There are guidelines about which weapons are eligible to be used in SASS. Here’s a picture of me, “Ozark Belle,” with my (reproduction) .38 caliber lever-action Winchester 1873 rifle, “saving the railroad.” I’ll get into the guns in later blogs, but… notice anything unusual?
Cowboy Action Shooting isn’t just about the shooting. Participants must wear “cowboy” or old west style clothing–in my case, there are drawstring bloomers, a petticoat and a bustle under that skirt! And a chemise under the blouse. (At least I stayed warm when the rains started—mostly.) The boots are reproduction and the hat is a good old American cowboy hat. I can now attest to why the cowboys preferred that style. When the rain started, my face and shoulders stayed dry. It wasn’t until near the end of the day that I tipped my head forward and water poured out of the brim that I realized how much it had kept off of me. That’s rain, not frost, on my hat while I’m standing at the loading table waiting my turn to shoot.
Safety is always the first priority at any SASS event. The hat is recommended — and a really good idea when hot brass is flying around. The ear and eye protection is required. And we start every shoot with a safety briefing, then at each “stage” the timer and all shooters remind each other of the rules of the range.
The day was spent moving from stage to stage where the range officer chose varying patterns for us to shoot. That my DH in the background working with our shotgun with the timer in the foreground reminding him of the pattern. We don’t really worry about the time, but it’s an event and they keep scores. Me? I’m there for the fun and exercise. <grin> Standing on my feet for three+ hours with short bursts of walking and pulling triggers is my idea of a great workout! Here’s me (on the right) with the shotgun blasting away at a rather good likeness of an ornery bull.
Beyond the shooting, there is a real sense of friendships and family among this group of like-minded enthusiasts. We hoot and holler for every shooter and offer tips and advice when a stage doesn’t go as well as we’d hoped. And sometimes, when it’s cold and wet, we offer ourselves to our friends as a wind block. <big grin>
Check out www.sassnet.com and look for a club in your area. You don’t have to shoot – just take your ear plugs and some eye protection and go watch. Walk the stages with the shooters. Ask questions. There’ll be someone who will show you their weapons and probably let you hold them. And I’m guessing, after you watch for a while, your fingers will start to itch for a chance to shoot those weapons.
For those of us who love all things Old West, it’s an experience you don’t want to miss.