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Cowboy action shooting?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Phantom Captain, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. Phantom Captain

    Phantom Captain Well-Known Member

    Me and the wife are becoming interested in the sport and were wondering if anyone had any tips or advice as well as info.

    I don't even know if there are any clubs in my area of Indiana or how to get involved in a club or with the sport in general. I do know it looks super fun and we both love to shoot bp so it seems like it would fun for us.

    I like that it seems more competition oriented where as reenacting the Civil War, obviously, is not. Shooting blanks certainly isn't close to competing with live rounds from the old guns.

    I guess we are just looking at how to get started or in contact with someone who can direct us along the way and maybe ease us into it all.

    Much appreciated in advance!
  2. cane

    cane Well-Known Member

  3. jamesb

    jamesb Well-Known Member

    You should hop on over to CASCITY or the Single Action Shooters Society forums and lurk a bit. The SASS page has a list of local clubs by state. I recommend you just go to a shoot, watch and ask questions. Most clubs I have been to are very welcoming and someone was always offering to let me shoot their guns. My wife and I both shoot CAS and it is a very enjoyable way to spend a Saturday. As far as competition goes you can make it as competitive as you want or treat is like dressing up cowboy and shooting steel. In one club I shoot at I shoot more competitively, smokeless loads and fast guns, the other I shoot more for style points, all black powder in cap and ball pistols, shotgun and a spencer rifle.
    Lots of people will give you advice on what guns you should have, what you should wear or what leather you should have. Seeing you do reenacting you probly have everything you need so just shoot what you got until you get few matches under your belt then you can branch out.
    The big thing is just to show up like I mentioned before.
  4. joecil

    joecil Well-Known Member

    There are a number of groups and cascity is the place to look since they pretty much cover them all. I belong to a group NCOWS (National Congress of Old West Shootists) now they are bit different than SASS though somewhat the same idea. There are a couple of these groups in Indiana with their National held there every year also. There site is http://www.ncows.org/index.htm

    All I can tell you really is you both should enjoy it as my wife and I sure do.
  5. J-Bar

    J-Bar Well-Known Member

  6. Phantom Captain

    Phantom Captain Well-Known Member

    Nice, the only website I was on was the SASS site. These all seem very helpful.

    We would really be interested in shooting BP only, cap and ball pistols, cartridge single actions and does any event or clubs accept the trapdoor? I don't have a lever gun yet but absolutely love shooting my trapdoor. Oh and what about bp muskets?
  7. loose noose

    loose noose Well-Known Member

    Phantom, I use a Trapdoor for the side shoots at SASS shoots, I've got a 1873 Winchester replica, and two 1858 Remingtons, as well as two 1860 Colts, I've got an old SXS 12 ga. with exposed hammers, that I use. Also depending on what mood I'm in I've also got two 2nd generation Colt Peacemakers, that shoot BP. I'll tell ya right now once ya get involved it is addicting, and the only one you're competing against is yourself.:D
  8. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    Yep, the trapdoor would be something that you would use in the bigger meets where they have the long range side matches.

    My club has monthly club meets where it's simply the main match guns. So you and the missus will need to get a pistol caliber lever rifle and some manner of elligable shotgun.

    Cap&Ball puts you into the Frontiersman category where the rifle and shotgun also need to be loaded with BP or BP substitute rounds that produce the required cloud of smoke.

    BP cartridge puts you into the Frontier Cartridge class.

    Both of those categories require that you shoot your handguns in the "duelist" style. Namely one hand only and only one gun out at a time. It's all in the rule book which you can get online from the SASS website.

    MOST of the folks like to get the rifle and cartridge handguns chambered the same. It just avoids confusion at the loading table. Mind you a rifle in .32-20 or .38-40 would be pretty hard to mess up if the handguns are in .45Colt. But a .45Colt and .44-40 mix can be a bit messy when you're trying to sort and load in a hurry. If you end up with such a combo or something equally easy to confuse you will want to ensure that you take efforts to keep things VERY segregated to aid in avoiding messing up.

    The cowboy group is also really good for caring about sharing. So the two of you can easily share guns back and forth. But for obvious reasons it's best if you can each have your own leather for the guns and ammo both because they'll fit each of you better and because it's a lot more hassle to switch belts back and forth.

    And you're right that it's a great amount of fun. Hearing the DING! of the steel is a captivating experience.
  9. Noz

    Noz Well-Known Member

    Some clubs will have a Plainsman category in which you can shoot your trapdoor. I have recently acquired one for just such a purpose.

    You could do worse than contact J-Bar above. He knows whereof he speaks.
  10. joecil

    joecil Well-Known Member

    NCOWS has a couple of cap and ball as well as black powder classes. Not sure of the exact names as they are kind of in the process of changing some to attract more people (less guns required). I personally shoot in the cowboy class which requires a pistol (black or smokeless) and a rifle shooting the same either black or smokeless. They have several groups divided into black powder and smokeless also as well as some requiring a shotgun in addition to pistol/rifle.
  11. Old Dragoon

    Old Dragoon Well-Known Member

    I have berlonged to both SASS and NCOEWS and will be rejoing ASAP. I love NCOWS and you will too as they are "Reenacting". the old west with live ammo and historically accurate clothing, guns, etc. Lots of fun.
    I shoot 44 Colt Heeled bullet and reload them as well. A little more involved than reloading inside lubed bullets but that is part of the fun. I shoot both BP guns and BP cartridge Conversion, maily 58 Remy's, though I have recently added a Centaur 1860 Army to the fold and am looking for another to pair it with. Will I convert the Armies? Maybe yes, Maybe no.
  12. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Well-Known Member

    You might also want to consider looking into the North-South Skirmish Association (www.n-ssa.org). Not CAS, but a lot of fun.
  13. Fingers McGee

    Fingers McGee Well-Known Member

    Check the SASS affiliated clubs list that was linked in a previous response, then attend as many matches as you can BEFORE you buy anything. Invariably, a prospective member will gets the opportunity to try a variety of guns to help suck them in to becoming a fullfledged Cowboy Action Shooter. I've been a CAS shooter since 1999 and do it almost full time now that I'm retired.
  14. vagunmonkey

    vagunmonkey Well-Known Member

    +1 to the N-SSA. Great fun and there are teams in Indiana as well...
  15. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Well-Known Member


    Been shooting CAS for a long time, SASS style. There are no NCOWS matches anywhere near where I live.

    Side matches where you can use the Trap door will pretty much be limited to big matches. Most matches do not have extra events such as long range competition where single shots will be used. These events usually only happen at large matches like regionals or state championships. Pretty much most of the time you will just be using two pistols, a rifle and a shotgun. Most stages do call for all four guns, but sometimes a stage is encountered that only uses two or three. But most of the time plan that you will be using both pistols, rifle and shot gun.
  16. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    I assume you've been to the big Friendship rendezvous? It's obviously more muzzleloading oriented but that's the granddaddy of all the rest.
  17. Phantom Captain

    Phantom Captain Well-Known Member

    Good info, thanks again. I think I will shoot J-Bar a message one of these days.

    Not really interested in the N-SSA as I'm looking for something away from Civil War which I've been reenacting for years. Also, I don't like that they don't shoot traditional battlefield loads but that's probably the case with all competitive action shooting I would imagine, thus cowboy and gallery loads etc.

    I've always shot traditional balls, minies and loads in my muzzleloaders when we shoot.


    I haven't been to Friendship since I was a kid but should make the trek back down there. Dad used to drag us along there in the summers where I grew up in a teepee with the smell of black powder always around me. Probably where the addiction began. :D
  18. loose noose

    loose noose Well-Known Member

    I disagree with Driftwood, in stating the side shoots are mostly for the larger shoots like Regionals, and End of the Trail shoots. Where I shot, we had on a good day 25-30 shooters, and after the shoot was over we allways had a long range shoot, anywhere from 200 yards to 300 yards at a big gong. Most of the shoots were for just bragging rights, others you could win a gun rug, or rifle case etc. We shot 10 rounds at those distances at any one of the 2 different ranges, if there was a tie, and it was just for bragging rights, so it stood. However it was for a prize, a shootout would be in line, first shooter to miss lost.;) One other thing not everyone participated in the long range shoots, but at least 50% of the shooters did.
  19. BCRider

    BCRider Well-Known Member

    Obviously the clubs themselves will vary on how often folks shoot the single shots. But it's the main match stuff which is the core of CAS.

    My own group has so far only shot the main match pistol caliber and shotgun stuff so far. I'm hoping to get a few to bring out their single shot long range stuff for a few post day giggles come the longer days of summer.

    Lots of folks are pretty tired by the end of the day so likely it'll be an hour or so thing at most.
  20. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Well-Known Member

    Howdy Again

    As I said earlier, side matches such as Single Shot Long Range are USUALLY restricted to the larger State and Regional championships. At least that's the way it is in these parts. I regularly attend matches held by at least 5 clubs, have been doing so for 10 years or so, and NONE of them have any long range events at their regular monthly matches.

    There are several reasons for this. Matches are put on by volunteers, nobody is paid to do it. Set up is usually the day before, with volunteers setting out all the steel. Then after the match, well into the afternoon, everything has to be dismantled. A six stage match will usually take about five or six hours to complete, an eight stage match will take longer. Yes, that is how long it takes when you have three posses of around 20 shooters each. Everybody is tired at the end of the day, and the sponsors want to go home too, not wait until a separate long range match is taken down too.

    On the other hand, at the State and Regional level, side matches are usually conducted on a separate day. State and Regional matches usually go on for two or three days. Side matches, including Speed Rifle, Speed Pistol, Pocket Pistols, Cowboy Trap, Team events, and Long Range events with single shots or lever guns all usually happen on a separate day. The Main Match will be conducted separately and it may stretch over two days, depending on how many stages there are.

    But at the regular monthly matches, once the Main Match is over, everybody either packs up and goes home, or waits for the scores to be tallied.

    We did have one regular match in these parts where single shots were used. This was the annual Black Powder match at one club. All shooting was done with Black Powder, and for a few years we all brought our single shot rifles too. I always brought my Sharps. There were several stages that used the single shot rifles, sometimes alone, sometimes in conjunction with the other guns. At one stage we would fire our single shots at a really big target about 100 yards away after shooting our main match guns. It was pretty hard to miss that target, it was so big. Another stage we were seated in a wagon and had ten shots with our single shot rifles at close targets. That was always fun because some of us took a long time to complete it.

    Eventually this club stopped including the single shot rifles at the annual Black Powder match. Dunno if it was because of popular demand or not, but nobody brings their single shots to that match anymore.

    Other than that, long range, precision shooting events NEVER happen at the local match level in these parts.

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