Dedicated to the Sport of Cowboy Action Shooting

Cowboy Action Shooting


A guide for the new shooter getting started in Cowboy Action Shooting

Compiled by Long Jim Hancock SASS #47369  3-20-07
Updated by PaleWolf Brunelle SASS #2495  2-14-08
Stolen by Nellie Belle SASS #24695   7-2010
Formatted and made to look pretty by Tramp #8586  3-2011
Reformatted for the website by Doc Faraday #5749 3-2011 


Cowboy Action Shooting is a multifaceted amateur shooting sport in which contestants compete with firearms typical of those used in the taming of the Old West: single action revolvers; lever action rifles; and side by side double barreled, pre-1899 pump, or lever action shotguns. The shooting competition is staged in a unique, characterized, Old West style. Contestants shoot in several one-to-four gun stages (courses of fire) in which they engage steel and/or cardboard targets. Scoring is based on accuracy and speed.
The truly unique aspect of Cowboy Action Shooting™ is the requirement placed on authentic period or western screen dress. Each participant is required to adopt a shooting alias appropriate to a character or profession of the late 19th century, or a Hollywood western star, and develop a costume accordingly.
Your SASS shooting alias is exclusively yours. In the tradition of the Old West cattle brand registries, SASS prohibits one shooter duplicating another’s alias. There is only one Abacus, one Tom Sunday, and one Miss Aggie Goodrich.
Smokey Point Desperados is a SASS affiliated club, and respects the sanctity of SASS members’ aliases and shooter numbers.
American history buffs and serious shooters alike agree the use of vintage firearms; authentic costuming, unique targets, and fast action make Cowboy Action Shooting one of the most interesting of all shooting sports for both spectator and contestant.


Every SASS member is required to select a shooting alias representative of a character or profession from the Old West or the western film genre. Your alias may not in any way duplicate or easily be confused with any other member’s alias. SASS headquarters is the final arbiter of whether an alias is acceptable or not.
These rules are enforced in accepting a new alias for SASS registry:
• It must be “printable” before a wide audience.
• No duplications are permitted.
• If it SOUNDS the same, it is the same.
• Adding “too,” “II,” etc. is not acceptable.
• “Ranger” could become “Texas Ranger” but not “The Ranger.” “John Henry Chisum” could be modified to “Jack Chisum” but not “John H. Chisum” or “Jon Henry Chisum.”
• Historical names may not be modified to make them different. “Wyatt Earp” and “Marshal Wyatt Earp” are considered the same.


We realize that it takes time for the new shooter to acquire all of the clothing and fire arms necessary for this game. Having this in mind, the new shooter MAY be allowed to shoot a first match or two without fully complying with the clothing requirements.ALL clothing and equipment MUST be worn appropriately, how it was intended and how it would have been worn in the OLD WEST or as seen on B-Western movies and television.

Hats: Any cowboy-style straw, felt or leather hat, or sombrero, is allowed, but NO ball caps or Shady Brady feathered modern style hats.

Pants: Jeans of modern or repro design are o.k., but NO designer style jeans. Bib over-alls are allowed but not common.

Boots: Modern or old style cowboy boots of LEATHER construction are allowed, but NO combat or athletic-type shoes regardless of construction are allowed. Soles must be of leather or synthetic NON lug grip type.

NOTE: IF there is a valid MEDICAL reason a shooter must wear a type of shoe NOT normally allowed, he may obtain permission from the Match Director PRIOR to the match starting.

Gear & Gloves: are allowed if they are of NON modern grip enhancing Shooting-type, either leather or cloth. NO Velcro, plastic, or modern holsters, or other shooting gear are allowed ON the person. Any gun case or item in the shooters cart or equipment bag is ok.

Shirts: will be of long sleeve only. Women are the only ones that can wear short sleeves.


Rifles: Any pistol caliber cartridge lever action, tube-fed original or reproduction, of a Henry, 1866, 1873, 1892, or 1894 Winchester-type, or “Lightning”-style slide-action rifles. Marlin, Rossi and Henry Big Boy are also allowed. Caliber must be center fire, .32 to .45 Colt, or any caliber in-between that was COMMONLY used during the old west time frame, 32.20, 32 H&R, .357, .38, 38-40, 44-40, 44 special or magnum etc. (.22 rim fire may be used in the Buckaroo, 13 or younger, class only.) Micrometer type receiver sights are not allowed – old style tang sights are OK.

Pistols: (TWO required per, or shared by competitors) Any single action Ruger, or Colt-type cartridge or percussion revolvers, whether original or replica. Fixed or adjustable sights of calibers as noted above of between .32 to .45 caliber (.22 rim fire for Buckaroos).

Shotgun:Any side by side or single shot shotgun typical of the era without automatic ejectors, with or without external hammers, with single or double triggers. Lever action, tubular fee, exposed hammer shotguns of the period are allowed (e.g., Winchester Model 1887). Must be at least 20 gauge and no larger than 10 gauge.
The ONLY slide action shotgun allowed is the Model 1897 Winchester, whether original or replica, in at least 16 and no larger than 12 gauge. 
Side-by-side, single shot and lever action center-fire shotguns in .410 are allowed within the Buckaroo Category only.

Ammo: Revolver ammo must have a velocity LESS than 1000 fps, and rifle ammo LESS than 1400 fps. Bullets must be ALL LEAD, and not jacketed, copper washed or hollow point, and round nosed soft point is the norm. Ten-X, Winchester, and several other firms offer “Cowboy Loads” in the box.
Shotgun shot size must be number 4 lead birdshot or smaller. The most common shot size used is #7 ½ or #8 TARGET type.


Marysville Rifle Club IS A “COLD” RANGE! All firearms will remain UNLOADED except while you are under the direct observation of a Range Officer.All loading and unloading will be conducted ONLY in the designated areas.Long guns will have their actions open immediately at the conclusion of each shooting string and while being carried on the range, unless enclosed in a case or scabbard.Handguns are to be kept holstered except when on the firing line, at the loading/unloading tables, in a safety area, or at the shooter’s vehicle.ALL competitors & spectators are required to wear eye protection. Hearing protection is highly recommended. 

The following acts are considered UNSAFE GUN HANDLING and are subject to DQ penalties:
1. A dropped gun on the firing line (from the loading table until guns are cleared at the unloading table). The shooter will NOT pick up a dropped gun. A Range Officer will recover it, examine it, clear it and return it to the shooter

2. Any discharge striking anything within 10 feet of the shooter; any discharge at the loading or unloading areas; or any other discharge that is deemed unsafe. (Exception for expendable props, if specified)

3. Violation of the 170º safety rule / failure to manage appropriate muzzle control.
(Please practice safe muzzle control at all times, especially with cross draw holsters at the loading table)
4. Returning a revolver to leather with the hammer not fully down on a spent round or empty chamber.

5. A cocked revolver leaving the shooter’s hand

6. An unfired round left in the chamber of a long gun.

7. Changing location with a live round under a cocked hammer or a gun with the hammer down on a live round.

8. Failure to comply with loading and unloading procedures.

9. Use of an illegal or illegally modified firearm. Any use of illegal items.

10. Holstering or staging a revolver with the hammer down on a live round.

11. SWEEPING anyone AT ANY TIME with the muzzle of any firearm.

12. Dry firing at the loading table. (Dry firing is allowed at designated safe areas.)

13. De-cocking a revolver, rifle or hammered shotgun with a live round under the hammer.

14. Any other unsafe gun handling such as fanning.

15. Dropped or ejected ammo is considered dead and will not be recovered until the shooter completes the course of fire. Staged ammo dropped back to where it was staged or ammo safely placed on a prop by the shooter is NOT considered dead.

 The use of Drugs or Alcohol will not be tolerated on this range.

Interpersonal conflicts, belligerent behavior and/or unsportsmanlike conduct are grounds for MATCH DISQUALIFICATION and possible ejection from the range.



Each unfired round.Each missed target.A miss is defined as the failure to hit the appropriate target type using the appropriate type firearm.Each target hit with an incorrect firearm, either intentionally or by mistake. 


Procedural Penalties

Any unintentional procedural errors caused by brain fade, confusion, ignorance, or mistakes (not to exceed one for any given stage).Failure to attempt to fire a firearm.Shooting targets in an order other than as required by stage description.Engaging the stage (firearms, targets, or maneuvers) in an order other than as required by stage description.Failure to adhere to the guidelines of the category in which you are competing.Firing any firearm from a position other than as required by stage description. 

Minor Safety Penalties

Not leaving a long gun action openLeaving empty or live rounds in magazine or carrier of the long gun in which it was loaded.Loading more than the correct number of rounds in a firearm.Not returning revolvers to leather unless otherwise specified.Carefully placed open, empty long guns that slip and fall (do not break 170° safety rule or sweep anyone).Retrieving a dropped “dead” round.Accommodations are always allowed for those unable to comply with specific stage procedures due to physical limitations with no procedural penalties assessed. 


Any dropped unloaded gun on the firing line (between the loading table and the unloading table).Carelessly placed long guns that slip and fall (whether or not they break the 170° safety rule.)A discharge striking anything five to ten feet from the shooter. Violation of the 170° safety rule/ Failure to manage appropriate muzzle control.Returning a revolver to leather with hammer not fully down on spent round or empty cylinder.A cocked revolver leaving the shooter’s hand.A live round left in the chamber of a long gun.Changing location with a live round under a cocked hammer or a gun with the hammer down on a live round.Unsafe firearm handling, such as fanning.Loading at other than the designated loading position or firing line.Use of an illegal or illegally modified firearm.Use of illegal items.Holstering or staging a revolver with the hammer down on a live round.Sweeping anyone with an unloaded firearm.Failure to adhere to loading and unloading procedures.Dry firing at the loading table.De-cocking a revolver, rifle or hammered shotgun with a live round under the hammer. 


Two accumulated Stage Disqualifications or Two Spirit of the Game assessments.Belligerent attitude / Unsportsman-like conduct.Shooting under the influence of alcohol, prescription, or other medication that may impair the shooter’s physical or mental abilities.Shooting illegal ammunition. This includes ammunition that exceeds the maximum velocity and shotgun shells that have been bottle-neck resized or ringed. This does not include ammunition that does not meet the power factor.Dropping a loaded firearm.Any discharge that hits the ground or stage prop less than five feet from the shooter, any discharge at the loading or unloading areas, or discharge that is deemed unsafe.  

30-Second PenaltyWillfully or intentionally disregarding the stage instructions in order to obtain a competitive advantage. Failure to complete any non-shooting procedure written within the stage instructions such as a prop or stage maneuver in order to obtain a competitive advantageShooting ammunition that does not meet the power factor or minimum velocity. The penalty is applied for each stage a competitor is checked and their ammunition is found not to meet the power factor or minimum velocity. Note: Two Spirit of the Game penalties will result in a Match Disqualification.

The use or presence of any outlawed item is a Stage Disqualification.Modern shooting gloves.Short sleeve shirts (Male competitors only)Short sleeve tee shirts, long sleeve tee shirts, and tank tops for all competitors. Long sleeved Henley type shirts with buttons are acceptable.Modern feathered cowboy hats (Shady Bradys). Straw hats of traditional design (e.g.,Stetson, Bailey, sombreros,) are acceptable.Designer jeansBall capsAll types of athletic shoes or combat boots no matter the material from which they are constructed.Nylon, plastic, or Velcro accouterments.The displaying of manufacturer’s, sponsor’s or team logos on apparel. Manufacturer’s labels on such apparel or equipment are acceptable.


Show up and unload Gear: Every match starts out with shooters arriving and signing up at the lower range house, typically from 8:30 - 9:30. After sign up you may drive your vehicle to the upper shooting bays. There will be mandatory Safety Meeting attended by ALL SHOOTERS at 9:45am. If you miss the meeting you may NOT shoot the match. Sign in and Register:During the sign up process you will register and indicate which category you will be shooting in. Posse up: You can also pick which posse you want to shoot on. Each shooting match requires that the number of shooters be broken down into a POSSE of equal numbers, and a Posse Marshal will have a clip board for you to sign up on. This Posse will be the one you shoot with the entire match. Your Mentor will answer any questions you have and make sure you have all the guns you need that day.
A shooter will need two revolvers, a rifle and a shotgun, plus 60 rounds of pistol and 60 of rifle ammo, and 25+ rounds of shotgun shells. (This is the minimum amount. Always bring more just in case you might need them.)Saddle up: The Mandatory Safety Meeting will be held in the upper shooting bays where the Pledge of Allegiance will be recited, posse starting bays determined, any announcements read, and final questions asked. Your Posse will then proceed to the appropriate bay where the stage description read, and shooting will begin!Back to Top MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION Parking:Parking is up the road to the right of the lower range house near the upper shooting bays.Mentors:An experienced and friendly shooter will be assigned to assist you during your day to ensure a SAFE & HAPPY shoot if you haven’t already got one.Awards Ceremony:Immediately following the match we have an awards ceremony in the lower range house. Shooters Handbook:We would also recommend you to read the SASS Shooters Handbook. You can download a copy of the handbook from the SASS website We recommend you visit the SASS homepage at www.sassnet.comfor further information regarding Cowboy Action Shooting.If you have ANY questions or problems feel free to ask a Smokey Point Desperados’ club member.

We were ALL new shooters at one time, and we believe in treating you the same way we were treated, in a warm and friendly manner. That’s The Cowboy Way!Most of all, be safe and have FUN !!

Copyright 2018 Smokey Point Desperados