Cowboy Action Shooting

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“Cowboy Action Shooting” (CAS) is a multi-faceted shooting sport where contestants compete with

firearms that are typical of those used in the taming of the Old West. It’s a multi-gun shooting

competition that utilizes a combination of single-action revolvers, pistol caliber lever action rifles,

and old-time shotguns staged in a unique, characterized Old West Style. CAS tries to recreate the

old west as it might have been, or how it should have been according to the books, movies, and TV

shows of the Old West.

The major thing that characterizes this shooting sport is that CAS shooters wear period costumes

from the Old West Era (late 19th century) and also adopt aliases associated with real or fictional

persons from that era. It is a timed sport in which shooters compete for prestige on a course of

different shooting stages.


A Brief History of CAS


In the 1970s, a group of California shooters was inspired by the then classic western film “The Wild

Bunch”. Then, they started to engage in regular cowboy-style shooting competitions. A couple of

years later, the idea of a cowboy-style competitive shooting sport spreads and hence, the creation

of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) in 1987 to preserve and promote this sport.

Today, the SASS is the highest governing body of CAS with over 75,000 members in more than 20

countries. Ever since its creation in 1987, SASS has been serving as the governing and sanctioning

body of Cowboy Action Shooting by publicizing the rules to ensure safety and consistency in the

sport worldwide.


Stages and Targets


CAS competition involves a series of separate shooting scenarios known as “stages” or “courses of

fire”. These stages are always different and each scenario features an array of situations and

shooting sequences in which your mettle as a shooter is being tested against steel targets or

sometimes reactive targets like steel knockdown plates and clay targets.

Typically, a stage will require ten revolver rounds (for the two single-action revolvers required),

nine or ten rifle rounds, and two to eight shotgun rounds. An example of a stage might have five

steel targets set for the first revolver, after which the shooter will move to the left where the rifle

shooting is staged. Then, the shooter will retrieve his/her rifle to engage ten rifle targets and run to

the right where four shotgun targets are staged to engage. Lastly, the shooter will engage the other

five targets set for the second revolver.

There are stages where you’ll get to act as the marshal, a driver, a banker, a bartender, or even a

rancher out on a prairie. Whichever one you are, you must defend yourself or your family from the

bad guys trying to separate you from your life or property. The bottom line is, the stages and

targets are set for you to have a fun-filled adventure competitively.




Matches of CAS are scored using Total Time Scoring – a score based on elapsed shooting time, plus

penalty points (seconds) for missed targets, procedural errors, and other rules infractions. The

maximum time allowed for each stage is to be calculated prior to you starting the stage. This

maximum time is the total of all available targets-miss penalties plus 30 seconds. Like in the above

stage example; 5seconds each for all available targets (10 rifles’, 10 pistol’s, 4 shotgun’s = 24 targets

x 5 seconds = 120 seconds) plus 30 seconds making a maximum of 150 seconds for that stage.


➢ Each target miss will add 5 seconds

➢ A procedural penalty will add 10 seconds

➢ Minor safety violation add 10 seconds

➢ Any score above the maximum time will be regarded as “Stage Disqualification Score” (SDQ)

➢ Not finishing a stage (DNF) will attract a stage disqualification penalty

➢ Two SDQ/DNFs (or one of each) in the same game match will result in a match disqualification

Each stage is scored separately, and the total combined raw time score plus any incurred penalty

points for all stages is used to determine the place of finish.


Clothing and Alias


Amidst all shooting sports, CAS is the only one that has a dress code. You will be required to dress

for the part you are adopting. All shooters must be in costume because it’s what adds uniqueness to

the game and also helps to create a festive, informal atmosphere that supports the friendly,

fraternal feeling encouraged in the competition. You are permitted to choose the style of costume

you wish to wear.


❖ All clothing must be typical of the late 19th century – a B-Western movie or Western television


❖ All clothing and equipment must be worn appropriately and how it was intended, or how it

would have been in the Old West, or as seen on B-Western movies and TV

❖ Though there are specific costume requirements, it ONLY lies within the costuming shooting


You can base your character and costumes on a real Old West figure from the 1800s; or a fictional

1800s figure from your favorite cowboy novel, film, or TV show; or a 1800s made-up character.

Aside from choosing a costume, you’re required to pick an alias that closely represents a character

or profession from the Old West or Western film genre. Your alias can be based generally on the

character you choose, just make it original.


❖ The alias must be printable before a wide audience – family-friendly

❖ Duplication of alias aren’t allowed – if it sounds the same, it is the same

❖ Adding “II”, “2”, or “Too” isn’t allowed

❖ Historical names shouldn’t be modified to make them different

❖ Confirm the availability of your alias before adopting it


Accepted Equipment and Ammunition


★ Revolvers: Only original single-action revolvers manufactured prior to 1899, their approved

replicas, and the SASS approved single action adjustable sight revolvers are approved

○ All revolver ammunition must be loaded to a muzzle velocity of less than 1000fps with

lead bullets

○ Must be center fire calibers of at least .32 caliber and no more than .45 caliber or

percussion of at least .36 caliber and no larger than .45 caliber

★ Shotguns: Any side-by-side or single shotgun typical of the period from approximately 1860

until 1899 with or without external hammers, having single or double triggers is allowed.

○ Shotgun barrels must maintain a length of at least 18 inches

○ The only side action shotgun allowed is the Model 1897 Winchester Shotgun – original

or replica

○ Military configurations aren’t allowed (i.e., trench guns)

○ Side-by-side, single shot, and lever-action shotguns must be center fire of at least 20

gauge and no larger than 10 gauge

★ Rifles: Rifles must be original or replicas of lever or side-action rifles manufactured around

1800 to 1899, incorporating a tubular magazine and exposed hammer

○ Rifles with box magazines may not be used

○ Must be center fire of at least .32 caliber and not larger than .45 caliber

○ No rifle calibers such as .30-30 or .38-55 are allowed

○ Rifle barrels must maintain a length of at least 16 inches

★ A safe holster capable of retaining the firearms throughout the stages

★ A cartridge belt, or a bandoleer, or a pouch to safely carry the required ammunition for

loading/reloading during the courses of fire


Shooting Catergories


SASS recognizes CAS shooting categories based upon age, gender, costuming, equipment, shooting

style, and propellant. There are no basically only men’s categories. However, the categories may be

subdivided by gender to establish categories for ladies only. Each category has a set of standard

regulations you must follow to qualify and stay in such a category. Below are the representatives of

the main types of categories you can find in a CAS matches:

Open Age Categories

● Cowboy: any age

● Cowgirls: any age

Age-Based Categories

● Buckaroo/Buckarette: 13years and under

● Junior Boy/Girl: 16years and under

● Wrangler/Lady Wrangler: Age 36 and up

● Forty-Niner/Lady Forty-Niner: Age 49 and up

● Senior/Lady Senior: Age 60 and up

● Silver Senior/Lady Silver Senior: Age 65 and up

● Elder Statesman/Grand Dame: Age 70 and up

● Cattle Baron/Cattle Baroness: Age 75 and up

● El Patron/La Patrona: Age 80 and up

Shooting Style Categories

● Duelist: Shooter uses only one hand to fire revolvers

● Gunfighter: Shooter uses two revolvers at once when the stage allows. Otherwise, he shoots

the right-side revolver with the right hand only and the left-side revolver with the left hand


Costume Categories

● Classic Cowboy/Classic Cowgirl: Required specific clothing and firearms

● B-Western/Lady B-Western: Shooters wear clothing inspired by the B-Western films of the

1930s and 1940s

Blackpowder Shooting Categories

● Frontier Cartridge: Shooter uses black powder rather than smokeless powder in all their


● Frontiersman Category: Shooter uses cap and ball revolvers, shot duelist style, and

side-by-side double-barrel or lever-action shotguns


Safety Rules


In CAS, there are basically seven magnificent rules that should be followed. However, this is an

exclusive write-up about the safety rules of handling firearms.

The seven magnificent rules:

★ Always treat every firearm as if it is loaded

★ Never let the muzzle of a firearm break the 1700 rule i.e the muzzle of a firearm must always be

straight downrange +/-850

in any direction

★ Be sure of your target and what is beyond

★ Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire

★ Firearms must remain unloaded outside of the normal course of fire

★ Treat all firearms with respect

★ Speak up


The Bottom Line


At a Cowboy Action Shooting match, you will meet the finest group of people. People that are

always ready to help a new shooter in all ways they can – even loaning you firearms and

ammunition. So, If you have ever wished to be on the screen with your favorite Western hero, or

you just want to ride the range with the lawmen and outlaws of the old west; perhaps, it’s the spirit

of adventure that is still flowing in you, Cowboy Action Shooting is something you should give a try.

Check out a SASS affiliated club near you and enjoy the unlimited benefits of shooting CAS

Once again, Thanks for reading. If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns….Please feel free to leave them below.



Have a Great Day!



1 thought on “Cowboy Action Shooting”

  1. Hi
    This sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll check out if there are any events in our area – when the social distancing restrictions are gone of course.
    Thanks and best regards


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