Gun safety alert: cowboy action shooting uses live guns! Read that again: cowboy action shooting (CAS) is a hobby-sport that uses real guns with live ammo! This is the big difference that sets it apart from the cowboys ‘n’ indians shooting games of your childhood.
Each CAS member requires 2 single-action revolvers, a shotgun and a rifle. This isn’t a very strict rule, however, so don’t let the 4-firearm requirement scare you away from the sport. You can go to the event armed with only a revolver, a rifle or a shotgun. You don’t need to buy all guns at the same time.
Before you go and spend some money on firearms for competition, why don’t you show up at the events and observe how the matches are played? Get the feel of the sport. Make friends with the participants to get a better understanding of the game rules. From there you can decide if you really want to participate in the shooting competitions.
If budget is your concern, you can ask friends and fellow CAS members where you can get good firearms at a discount. Some dealers have their own websites so you can browse online conveniently. Because of strict federal firearms regulations, it would be best to look for a dealer in your locality.
Aren’t Live Guns and Ammo Dangerous for this Sport?
Truthfully, they can be if you are real careless and throw safety precautions to the wind. Fortunately, CAS members are conscious about and in precise accordance with gun safety.
Actual shooting events are all held on a tightly supervised gun range with all the safety measures in place. In fact, SASS expects every participant in a match to be a safety officer. One rule of the sport is that all firearms should stay unloaded except in the firing line and under the supervision of a Range Officer.
One of the SASS rules regarding gun safety states:
“As any firearm related sport can be inherently dangerous, SASS does not recommend or suggest the modification of any firearm or the removal of any safety device. Participants in this sport accept responsibility for the use and/or modifications of their firearms and do not depend upon SASS or any of its affiliated clubs or members to make that judgment for them.”
The SASS has a cowboy action shooting Shooters Handbook that enumerates the safety practices of the sport. You can download the PDF version of the handbook by clicking on this link.
Gun Safety Rules for Shooters
Cowboy action shooting gives extra importance to the safety of all members and spectators of the sport. Special emphasis is placed on shooters since only they can have their firearms loaded for competition.
At a typical CAS gun range, every member is expected to keep their firearms unloaded at all time. Loaded guns are only allowed when shooters prepare them at the loading table and during the actual shooting competitions. After that, they should head to the unloading table to empty the firearms of their ammunition and see to it that all firearms are empty.
Revolvers and rifles are always loaded with the required number of rounds, leaving one chamber empty under the hammer. Shotguns should always remain empty and only loaded during competition.
Even when wearing their Old West attire, competitors are required to wear safety glasses at all time while in the firing line during the shooting matches.
To ensure that game regulations and safety rules are followed, Range Officers have their eyes more on the shooters and their guns rather than on the targets. To strictly enforce safety rules, the Range Officer can and will stop a shooter if their gun or ammo is viewed as unsafe in any way.
CAS Gun Owners’ Responsibilities
To show that they are responsible gun owners, members of CAS have several rules that they strictly observe. Among them are:
Follow the standard gun safety practices prescribed by SASS for all gun ranges and competitions.
Only registered CAS shooters are allowed to carry firearms at competitions.
If pistols are carried, they should be empty, holstered with hammers lowered fully down.
Firearms that are not being used should either be in their case or sit with their action opened.
Members are discouraged from pointing their guns at any form of live target.
The shooter’s angle of safety is 170-degrees. Members make sure they don’t violate the 170-degree safety rule and, thus, never draw across the 180-degree shooting line. Instead, they twist their body when drawing to avoid breaking the 170-degree safety rule.
Alcohol and drugs are a no-no during competition. They can alter the participant’s judgment, reaction and motor function. Bottom line is if you drink, then stay away from the gun range.
Is Cowboy Action Shooting Safe for Women and Children?
CAS isn’t just a hobby-sport for men, but for the entire family as well. In fact, many women and children participate in events, winning over the male participants at times. While entire families participate in cowboy action shooting, they closely observe laws pertaining to the supervision of minors, as followed by other law-abiding shooting clubs anywhere.
Ladies and children have their own categories in CAS, subdivided by gender and age. As a rule, competitors under 21 years old require parental consent and supervision. For children, the recommended divisions are:
Young Guns (for kids aged 14 to 16)
Buckaroos (for kids aged 13 and under)
Women’s category can be subdivided to fit the participant’s shooting style, such as Lady Gunfighter and Lady Duelist.
If you want to know how to handle a gun safely and be a responsible gun user and owner, join cowboy action shooting. You’ll have a lot of fun not only in shooting matches, but in meeting nice people who share your interest in reliving the Cowboy Way of the Old West.