Cowboy Action Shooting is the fastest growing shooting sport in the country. It's world wide. It also exists in places where getting firearms is difficult and expensive such as Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand. The Single Action Shooting Society is approaching 40,000 members, and over 50,000 people participate in the US every year. Over 10,000 people are starting at it every year in the US alone (judging by the new SASS member numbers). The simple fact is it's fun.

Major events take place all over the country involving hundreds, sometimes thousands of people. This is a scene of part of vendor's row at Winter Range 2001, the U.S. National Championship, where the shooting field is limited to 500 shooters, but conventioneers and vendors add a few hundred more. You could go to a match like that with a pocket of cash or a credit card and get almost everything you need to shoot the sport from guns to clothes to hearing protection to guncarts, etc. If you need a set of 1876 pattern U.S. Cavalry boots or a red paisley wild rag, it's probably here.

Cowboy Action Shooting is the only shooting sport with a dress code. You should be dressed in costume. The efforts put into the costumes are remarkable. Contestants can be:

  1. Real 19th century figures
  2. Fictional 19th century figures, from novels, TV, or movies [all of the Sacketts are portrayed. There's a Hoppy and a Paladin (and a Wire Paladin and a Texas Paladin, etc.), and every Clint Eastwood or John Wayne character, etc.]
  3. A made up 19th century character. Aliases range from Judge Roy Bean and U.S. Grant to Three-Eyed Willy to Meadow Muffin to Dirty Dances With Wolves to Trudy Grit. (The one which caused me to roll on the floor was Squatztachute). Each shooter is required to pick a unique alias, and since there are 35,000+ members in SASS, this is difficult. Each alias must be different, or, no doubt, we'd have 250 Paladins and 200 Rowdy Yates, etc.

To get started, check the reference guide and find a club near you. The websites will tell where they shoot and when. Go and watch a match. Talk to the shooters (while they're not shooting or loading). I've never talked to a CAS shooter who wouldn't tell you all of his secrets. I've heard World Champions give load data to people they didn't know, and shooting hints are freely given. Everyone there wants more shooters. Most shooters will even loan their firearms and leather gear to help you get started.

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