But, “my gosh,” where did this year go? It seems like just yesterday I was at END of TRAIL, and now the SASS Convention has come and gone. I guess the old adage is right—“Time flies when you’re having fun,” and going to SASS Championships is all about having fun.
The SASS International Shooting Program is made possible by you, the shooters. SASS just recently welcomed its 90,000th member, and with over 600 clubs worldwide, this makes for a very stable base upon which to build our International Shooting program. This shooting program starts with a foundation of some 200 annual club matches. Any SASS Club can put on an annual match, and SASS supports these annual matches through prize donations, advertising in The Cowboy Chronicle and the SASS Web Site, and a post match article in The Cowboy Chronicle, if submitted.
The next step in the program is the SASS State Championships. Clubs can apply for State Championships beginning in January for the following year (i.e., in January 2011 one can apply for the 2012 state match). Any club meeting the requirements may apply for a SASS State Championship. Contrary to popular belief there are very few requirements for putting on a State Match. Clubs have the option of running their state match under total time or rank points, and although a match is required to offer all SASS categories, they only have to actually provide those categories where there are five or more in the category. Also, state matches and above may offer any category they deem appropriate and for which they have sufficient shooters to fill the category. So, Senior Gunfighter or Senior Blackpowder Duelist, along with others, are acceptable additions.
After State Championships come the Regional and National Championships. One cannot apply for Regional Championships or the National Championship. The Wild Bunch awards them. Once they are awarded, they don’t move very often. The Wild Bunch, when choosing a host for a Regional match, looks for a club with a great track record of putting on successful matches and looks for a club with good, strong leadership. These matches are the jewels in the program, and they will be some of the largest and best run matches around.
Last, but not least, is the World Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting™, END of TRAIL. Here you are likely to see winners not only from the US National Championship, but from all over the world. Unlike other shooting competitions, anyone may shoot END of TRAIL or any of our other Championship matches. You do not have to earn any number of points or win any number of matches. All you need is to be a SASS member in good standing, have a good attitude, and be comfortable with the game.
So, who can win a state, Regional, or National match you ask? Well, SASS recognizes the highest placing male and female residents of the state, Region, or country as the SASS Champions. These people receive the SASS buckle and entry to the next match in the chain. The overall match winners are just that—“The Overall Match Winners,” and they should be recognized for winning the match along with all the glory that goes with it. As for category winners, there is no set SASS policy, but many matches are recognizing the overall category winners as well as the resident category winners. Multiple winners can result in many trophies, although often certificates work just as well. We are not giving away an expensive new Cadillac, and it is good public relations to recognize as many folks as you can. Everyone likes his or her 15 seconds of fame, and if they walk away with a smile on their face, they will most likely come back. I expect there to be considerable discussion regarding this at the TG Summit this year!
In past years we have referred to national championship matches outside the US as Regionals. Beginning in 2011 they will be referred to as National Matches. The winners of these matches have to be from the country or Region where the match is held. An example is the European Championship—Days of Truth, the SASS Champions must reside in Europe. By making this change, we clear up several recent issues.
As SASS continues to grow, so will our International Shooting Program, and 2011 is shaping up to be another great year of shooting. I hope ya’ll have a great holiday season and a blessed New Year!