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Cowboy Action guys, a random thought...

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by swingset, Nov 29, 2004.

  1. swingset

    swingset Well-Known Member

    I was at my local show this weekend and saw a booth of SASS shooters all duded up in their cowboy suits, handing out literature. Up till now I never gave them much thought, but something struck me about their group and gun owner's reactions to them.

    For whatever reason, people filed by or talked to them as if they were just normal old guys. That's great, it looks like fun what they do, but I wonder what would happen if there was a CQB shooters organization where people dressed in high-speed, low drag gear and called each other "snake" and "deathdealer" instead of Dave and Rick? Gun show guys would laugh, snicker, make fun of them - call them mall ninjas, you get the idea.

    Just made me wonder why the SASS guys get a pass? Is it because of the style of their dress, or because the old west is so removed from modern hi-tech that their "pretend" is clearly obvious whereas the tactical crowd might seem sincere if they dressed up for the day?

    In thinking about it, I'm going to start up a VSS, or "Viking Shooting Society". Everyone has to wear Viking costumes and carry a big shield, horned helmets and don a name like "Sven" or "Lars". How cool would that look at the funshows? I guess all the Viking shooters would have to use Valmets?

    Anyway, there's my useless thought for the day. Just call me "Sven Deathdealer" from now on...Tactical Viking Warrior! Badge #1, if you please.
  2. K-Man

    K-Man Well-Known Member

    The Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), aka Cowboy Action Shooting, does play on our infatuation with the old west. It's the fastest growing shooting sport in the nation right now. I know it's garnered some 10,000+ new members just in the last 18 months. I've seen shooters range in age from about 12 to over 80. Most of the shooting stages have you shooting with two pistols, a lever action rifle, and a shotgun. I think the overall concept of SASS gives folks the opportunity to not only shoot competitively, but there's a big social part of the sport as well. Most of the "shoots" I've been to generally run 5 or 6 stages of competition and you're generally there five to six hours. So it gives you plenty of opportunity to "socialize." :)
  3. Jim March

    Jim March Well-Known Member

    SASS/CAS has, in my opinion, been VERY good for the shooting sports and the RKBA in general.

    OK, lookit: people getting involved in "all things gunnie" go through a progression. I should know, I did so myself and not that long ago - between about 1995 and 1998, really.

    On that scale, accepting a home defense gun is the easiest, accepting CCW a bit harder but with some study into how it's working in other states it works, and ownership/shooting of "evil assault rifles" (with it's underlying assumption of a check against gov't power) coming last. At least in my case.

    IPSC and similar "high speed tactical competition" isn't common enough to impinge on the public conciousness too often. Once in a while, yeah, but for the most part shooting games featuring "high-cap" (as the public sees it, no need to preach to me on the subject of standard cap mags please!) autoloader handguns is "under the radar".

    Well CAS/SASS is getting big enough that it IS hitting radar. Not quite to where classic shotgun clays and such are, but close.

    The thing is, once people start hanging around at the smaller regional events and come across glimpses of IPSC/IPSA/etc, they realize it's basically the same thing except for modern guns and less costuming. (Only slightly less in some cases, granted...)

    In other words, I think that in addition to being fun in it's own right, SASS/CAS has a role as a "mild place on the spectrum" that people converting away from sheepledom can easily wrap their heads around.

    I don't see it doing any harm at all.


    Oh, another thing: SASS/CAS has a "cousin" - organized historical recreations. Sacramento recently had an "old west days" weekend down at the part of town with old west architecture remaining. A group of working reenactors with excellent costuming and functional SASS/CAS type guns shot it out with blanks several times a day :). This was in full view of a predominantly non-gunnie audience. Surprisingly, on talking to these guys they did NOT do CAS/SASS competition, though they knew of it of course. Most had shot their guns (largely Italian stuff with a few period pieces) with blanks only. One guy in really good overall gear with a pair of stainless Beretta Stampedes didn't understand how his transfer bar worked; I took a couple minutes to explain :).

    Figure these guys into the whole "scene and public mindset issue".
  4. swingset

    swingset Well-Known Member

    I wasn't questioning the legitimacy or value of SASS, it's probably fun as can be...just making an observation about people's reactions.

    I'd be into the cowboy action shooting big time if the dress/persona wasn't required. I know that probably sounds sacreligious to SASS people, but that's just my thing. I love the guns and the style of shooting, but don't like the pretend. I attended my tactical carbine class wearing a tool belt to hold my mags, for much the same reason. For some reason, anything requiring dress up makes me want to not, if that makes sense?

    BTW, my tool belt was awesome. My knee pads were my wife's gardening knee pads, purple too. Everyone had a good laugh at my expense, but I outshot half the class. ;)
  5. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy Well-Known Member

    So throw on some Wranglers, some lace up Justin boots, a cheap straw cowboy hat and a buttondown shirt.

    Basic SASS "Costuming" requirement so they don't have Hawaiian-shirt wearers in the Cowboy shooting sport.

    Yeah. Some costume.
  6. iamkris

    iamkris Well-Known Member


    I, too, was put off by the "costuming" part of SASS. Not my thing but it is for some people. The good thing is most places don't push it in your face...there are those costume nazi's out there that will look down on anyone not authentic but most people just blow those uptight morons off.

    I just throw on some khaki's, suspenders, blue shirt and call myself a SpanAm War soldier. I'm more comfortable in that than true cowboy stuff...plus you can stop by the mini-mart afterwards and not feel everyone is staring at you. I find cowboy shooting a total hoot and am amazed at how fast some people can be with "obsolete" firearms.

    One good part is that when you are at a shoot, the embarrassment of the costume quickly fades since everyone else is wearing them also...have to experience it to know what I mean.

    I think why CAS gets a dressup pass is that there is a fondness for Saturday matinee westerns firmly planted in most people's minds. Only the most liberal NJ professor would dare disparage the good guy in the white hat riding off into the sunset.
  7. MarkDido

    MarkDido Well-Known Member

    It's all a matter of the viewer's perspective.

    "Rasputin had a BEARD"

    "Monty Wooly had WHISKERS!"

    G. Carlin
  8. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    I was thinking of joining your club if you will call me the shadow ninja of death and let me shoot my cowboy guns. If I have to buy an AR and carbon fiber underware I'll stick to SASS. :D
  9. Kaylee

    Kaylee Moderator

    I think it's kinda cool, actually. As far as a "free pass" as opposed to tacticool stuff, I think it's 'cause it's more obviously all in fun. And -- it seems to me -- less macho posturing. Now, if say a 3-gun type team also dressed up all Rambo-sih but very obviously kept it tongue in cheek, I bet they'd get the same pass. :)
  10. CAS700850

    CAS700850 Well-Known Member

    I've met some of the CAS/SASS guys, and what has struck me about them is how they are so friendly and non-"in your face" about the whole thing. I'm sure there are the costume-nazis out there, but the one's I've met have been quite the opposite. I went to a shoot at the invitation of an acquaintance to see what it was all about. Everyone was having a blast (no pun intended). But, what struck me the most about the entire thing was the lack of egos floating around. A couple of tactical matches I've been to had too many of the "do it this way or you will die" types for my liking. It's one thing to offer friendly criticism to help someone improve. It's another thing to berate a competitor trying to get into the game because his reloading technique wasn't done in the manner prescribed by Captain Death-dealer, the local armchair "ex-Delta-Force" commando that runs the league.

    Another plus I have for teh CAS/SASS guys is that they are so public friendly, they do nothing but good for the rest of us trying to preserve our gun rights. This is a sport that cannot be attacked for the typical gun issues, and always come of as a positive gun experience. For that, we should all be greatful.
  11. theCZ

    theCZ Well-Known Member

    Hmm, I've got a whole new take on the CAS/SASS stuff now that I've found I can wear my ranch work clothes. I'm in! Now I just need the appropriate pistol, lever action, and shotgun. :)
  12. Dave Sample

    Dave Sample member

    I am Captain Eagle, SASS # 10144. I am a Single Action Tune Up Specialist and I write a column for SHOOT! magazine called "Cowboy Smithin'". I have thousands of dollars tied up in guns, gun leather, and period cowboy clothing. It is the best money I have ever spent and a great hobby for me. I know the Judge SASS #1, and most of the guys that started this game. The only time I smoke now is when the Judge and I have a cigar together at Winter Range down at the Ben Avery Range here in AZ.
    This is the fastest growing shooting sport we have ever seen and there are some good reasons for that. People do not like the times we are in now and wqant to go back to a time when you didn't need two law firms to make a deal. They like the idea of being decent human beings again and the trusting nature of things back then. We have the "Spirit of the Game" and just have fun with the friendships created with like minded people. I do not shoot to win. I shoot to have fun. There are no money prizes for the top guns, just bragging rights for a day of shooting that was just right. These "Top Guns" are also "Endorsers" for various things connected with our sport. I do not buy anything that is "Endorsed" because I feel it is not in keeping with my reasons to be a Cowboy Shooter. We do not ask anyone to join and we do not want people who are not suited for this time 100 years ago. It is the most fun you can have with your clothes on!
  13. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    Just realized I didn't really address the question at all in my first post. It may be kind of subliminal, but I'll guess the reason most folks don't fret over armed cowboys is the intent of the sports. The cowboys are obviously being nostalgic, looking back. The whole world knows that we will never back up to such technology, so people percieve no threat at all from somebody "playing cowboy". The "tactical" guys on the other hand, actually scare some folks. We may call them sheep, but a lot of regular people are worried about somebody who looks as if they are playing war. The fact that the two sports are only superficially different makes little difference. It's the appearance that people see. If you doubt it, look at posts on THR about which guns are more acceptable in court.

    PS, 46184 here. You probably have already guessed part of my alias.
  14. JustsayMo

    JustsayMo Well-Known Member

    I think the whole cowboy action shootin is great for shooting sports in general. Folks I know that don't hunt or even own a gun think it would be Fun including some NON-American friends from England and the Phillipenes.

    I would bet that most of us played cowboys by the time we could stand up and take a leak by ourselves. Even the anti-gun types probably had some experience which I think goes a long way to making it a non-threatening sport in the public's perception. Movies generally portray Cowboys, even the bad guys as underdog heros.

    As for public perception I think a "cops and robbers" themed sport has a better chance than the rambo/tactical competitions.

    Lastly, what better reason can you think of to buy FOUR more guns? :)
  15. Evil_Ed

    Evil_Ed Well-Known Member

    I have to say that generally speaking the Cowboys I have met have been some of the nicest gunnies I have ever met. They were very kind to me when I started showing up to take pictures of their matches at the local clubs and I lost track of how many people offered me a chance to compete or try out their toys on the steel. I finally shot my first match on Saturday and they were awesome for a new competitor, very understanding and helpful. I second the comment that it seems the egos are left behind when these guys and gals come to the SASS matches. The public acceptance of them I think is mostly due to their openness and politeness when dealing with newcomers and the public. It doesn't hurt that almost anyone that grew up in the US has gone through a phase in their childhood where they wanted to be a cowboy, how could they hold it against someone who actually gets a chance to live that dream out even if its only on weekends.

    BTW, amazingly enough my SASS nick is "Evil Ed" SASS# 50918.
  16. MuzzleBlast

    MuzzleBlast Well-Known Member

    <sweeping generalizations>
    The difference between CASS and IDPA guys is that the CASS guys are not intimidating in any way. They make no pretense about being tactically correct or even historically correct. They are just there to hang out in their Gene Autry outfits with their buds, burn some gunpowder and have fun. Like SCA with firearms. IDPA'ers tend to look on their game as a martial art, and therefore more serious.
    </sweeping generalizations>

    Bjorn Shadowstalker, VSS#2
  17. CAS700850

    CAS700850 Well-Known Member

    Griz has an excellent point. A guy dressed up like Roy Rogers does not scare the average person, even with a pair of Colt .45's on his hips. However, take the same guy, dress him in black with a different Colt .45 in a tactial thigh rig, and he will scare the h*** out of most people. Why? Images from movies and television have made most cowboys out to be "good guys." The man in black has been portraid as a psycho on the edge of going "postal", or a militia type wanting to verthrow the government, or a survivalist nut-job.

    Now, maybe if you could just convince them that cowboys carried 1911's in thigh rigs... :)
  18. Evil_Ed

    Evil_Ed Well-Known Member

    Wasn't there a late period cowboy movie where one of the leads had a 1911 in a low slung leather holster hanging off a cartridge belt? Set in like 1918 or something.
  19. griz

    griz Well-Known Member

    I think that's the Wild Bunch. Some places have wild bunch matches where you use a 1911. Besides the fun factor, it's another excuse to buy a gun. You still have to have a leather holster though, no nylon in this game.
  20. Gunsnrovers

    Gunsnrovers Well-Known Member

    I shot SASS back in the early 1990's (SASS #4556). Nice folks. VERY well marketed organization. They play the Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Lone Ranger cowboys and indians card very well and have created a friendly family orientated image. SASS has the same politics as other shooting hobbies; full boat costumes versus jeans and flannel shirts, full historic loads versus "gamer" loads, competitors versus "for the fun of it", etc. Head over to the SASS wire and it can get heated and ugly there too at times.

    I stopped shooting SASS and have been into military reenacting since 1993. Mostly WWI and WWII. We can go in full uniforms with weapons almost anywhere we want with positive reactions (though the German reeactors often get a negative response). Real rifles, sidearms, etc. No problem. The fact that my Enfield or Garand is as effective now as it was in 1918 or 1944 is irrelevent. The hobby is in a "historical" context and we strongly work that image. Even with "zero tolerence" here in California, we still get weapons into the class rooms at times for history classes, etc.

    You can bring your family to watch a regional/national SASS shoot or a military reeneactment weekend and it's like going to a faire. Pagentry, parades, hotdogs, and gun fire. Even if the viewers aren't gun owners, they are watching a play, not a training exercise.

    Take the same non-shooting family to Thunder Ranch, Gunsight, or a 3 Gun Event and more then likely you will not get as positive a reaction.

    Perception is more important the reality. The cowboy with a six shooter on his hip and a sxs in his hand is just as deadly as the guy in jeans with the Glock and a Benelli, but you'll have a hard time convincing most folks of that. :)

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