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Relive Old West Gunplay and Period Dress, with Your Own Cowboy Alias

Cowboy Action Shooting Basics – A CAS Primer

Cowboy Action Shooting Basics – A Short Primer on the Sport


cowboy action shooting basics


Barely thirty years in existence, Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) has become the fastest growing shooting sport not only in the United States, but even in countries where procuring and owning firearms can be difficult and costly, like the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria and New Zealand. This activity involves target shooting in locations (or stages in CAS lingo) that resemble a typical Old West town. All the guns and costumes used are what you would expect to find during the mid to late 1800’s.

Cowboy Action Shooting Members

Cow­boy Action Shoot­ing Dual PistolsMen are primarily attracted to this shooting sport, but you can also find a lot of women as well as children who participate in matches. It is not a rare sight to see a whole family at a CAS event, all of them garbed like theywere auditioning for a role in The High Chaparral or Wagon Train.

Women can compete against men, but there are various age divisions so participants can enter a match against people who’s nearer their age.

Apart from the prescribed costume, you must register an alias by which you will be known at the shooting event. It’s fun and you can’t get into a fight by addressing someone as Dead-Eye Dick. Your alias should be unique and reflect a lot about your disposition or profession. You can also take off from or paraphrase the name of a Wild West personality.

 Cowboy Action Shooting Guns

The firearms used in Cowboy Action Shooting are the types which would have been found in the days of the Old West, whether they are faithful reproductions or genuine period pieces. The rifles are lever-action, and the shotguns can be the double-barreled type or the 1897 external hammer pump model. The pistols used are single-action, meaning they need to be cocked every time before firing.

Safety is of utmost importance in CAS matches. No firearm should be loaded with ammo unless it is a participant’s turn to compete. Unloaded rifles must have their lever left open, and shotguns must rest in the “broken open” position.

 Cowboy Action Shooting Clothes and Gears

You need to be dressed for the part if you want to participate in the competition. Some CAS groups require costumes to be historically correct, down to the last detail like horn buttons. Other organizations allow Western-style cowboy outfits such as those found in classic western television shows like Rawhide and Bonanza.

 Cowboy Action Shooting Matches

Most events are held in a simulated western town, complete with a livery stable, a bank, or a saloon. Participants take turns in shooting at a set of targets and are timed from start to finish. More time is added to their score every time they miss a target.

The rules may require a participant to use a pistol (or a pair, depending on the rules) to shoot targets through a saloon window, then replace it with a rifle to shoot at another series of targets. Then they switch to a shotgun, run over to the stable and shoot at four different targets.

If you are interested in this type of activity, be sure to watch out for events near your area and drop by to meet people who are involved in the sport. You just might discover a new Cowboy Action Shooting hobby or sport to get involved in.


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