Cowboy Action Shooting originated in the United States in the 1980’s and quickly spread worldwide.

The sport involves shooting with guns of the old west, manufactured before 1900.It’s about having fun and shooting together. It is intended for the whole family, Mums and Dads, Children and Grandparents. Safety is the first consideration of course but we believe you should have fun and enjoy comradery while you do it.

Competitors shoot a course of fire with two single action revolvers, a lever action rifle (in pistol calibre), and a shot gun. Those shooting the sport must take a cowboy name and dress in cowboy clothing.

PNZ has put out our own introduction clip at

This sport is about having fun and enjoying shooting at a competitive level that suits your shooting interests. You can shoot in age group competition or in specialist categories.  Some just like to shoot to fire authentic replicas of the old guns. That’s not to say that it is not a fast paced sport. The really competitive type’s shoot very fast indeed. Have a look on You Tube under cowboy action and you will find introduction videos and clips of various competitions and individuals. Here are a few links;

The Cowboy Action Shooting Section meets every Sunday at 9.30 on Range 9 and we hold a club match on the first Sunday of each month. New shooters are always welcome. Just come around the back and make yourself known. Don’t be shy. You won’t have guns but don’t let that worry you. We have Club guns that you can use for free. You will need to buy some Club Ammo to use them and we can help you sort that out quickly.

There are regular Cowboy Action Shooting Matches at the other clubs around the country which we encourage you to participate in. They are great fun and you will learn a lot. There are usually four shoots in the South Island each year and many more in the North Island. The main competitions each year are the South Island Championships, the North Island Championships, and the National Championships.

Cowboy Action Shooing (CAS) is governed by the rules set out by Pistol New Zealand, and they have adopted the rules of CAS’s governing body, the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) which is based in the United States. The PNZ website has more information and links. See;

https://www.pistolnz.org.nz/cowboy-action.html

You can also join SASS if you wish. The National Championships held each year are SASS sanctioned matches and SASS has its own classes and awards. It has a monthly online newsletter. A lot of NZ cowboys travel to the U.S. to compete in the ‘End of Trails ‘competition held each June. These are effectively the cowboy action world championships.

The SASS website is;

https://www.sassnet.com/

Have a look around this website. You can download the rule hand book from there (see link below).

The Cowboys and Cowgirls elect a Marshall who is our head of section. The senior Cowboys are those members who hold RO2 qualification.

To shoot cowboy action you will need to have completed the basic 14 week training course and bring your new members card around with you. You are very welcome to come around the back and try some shooting before that time but completion of the basic course is essential to become a full member of the section. The basic course teaches safety and basic shooting skills essential to any of the shooting disciplines.

CAS runs our own induction course which goes over, among other things;

  1. The rules of the Single Action Shooting Society.
  2. Our unique safety requirements for range use.
  3. The different classes of competition available.
  4. Registering a cowboy name or alias.
  5. The revolvers, lever action rifles and shotguns that we use, their correct use, care and maintenance.

You will need to register a cowboy name or alias with the CAS section of PNZ. You do this by downloading the PNZ form from their website at

https://www.pistolnz.org.nz/files/cas_registration_form_2015.pdf

You will need to give three alternatives in case your first choice is not available. It costs $20.00 to register. You will receive back the CAS badge and your cowboy number.

Next you will need to obtain a holster qualification so that you can draw from a holster.

  1. Applicants for the holster course should have attended at club days on at least six occasions when competition stages have been shot before being eligible to enter the course.
  2. The applicant must be approved as ready to sit the course by the Marshal in consultation with the senior cowboys.

The Holster Course handbook can be downloaded from the PNZ website at

https://www.pistolnz.org.nz/pnz-holster-course.html

There is a $30.00 fee to get the qualification. There is a written and practical test.

See the Marshal about doing the course.

The final step is to become a Club Range Officer (RO1) for CAS. We have rules specific to CAS that are quite different to those of the other shooting sections. A Range Officer must know all the rules so as to ensure safe practice at all times while in charge of shooting on the range. You don’t have to become an RO1 to regularly shoot CAS but if you don’t then on club days you will need to be supervised by a RO1 and you will not be able to shoot on the back ranges outside of club days unless you are.

The section runs a Range Officer Training Program as required from time to time either for individuals or for a group.

To obtain a Range Officer 1 Qualification an Applicant must have the following to enter the Program:

  1. The applicant must have a holster qualification.
  2. The applicant must be an active current shooter who has;
    a) In the six months since obtaining their holster qualification attended and shot at club days on at least six occasions when competition stages have been shot, .
    b) The approval of the Marshal in consultation with the Senior Cowboys (who are RO2 qualified) that the applicant is ready, and a safe and appropriate person to be a range officer.

The Applicant shall then;

  1. Undergo an RO1 training course.
  2. Serve an “apprenticeship” as an RO under the supervision of an experienced range officer on six occasions when competitive stages are shot.
  3. At the completion of the above, obtain the approval of the Marshal in consultation with Senior Cowboys, that the applicant has shown appropriate skill, judgement and confidence, and is ready to sit the exam for RO1.
  4. Once the Marshals consent is given the Applicant may sit the exam as proscribed by Pistol New Zealand.

Cowboy Action does not have levels of competition as does IPSC. A Range Officer 2 (RO2) qualification is necessary to officiate at national competitions. These courses are run by the PNZ from time to time. Training is given by qualified trainers, regionally. You do not have to get this qualification unless you want to.

  1. Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) and CPC rules apply to this range at all times.
  2. All shooting must be done under the supervision of a range officer (RO). Anyone shooting by themselves must be a qualified RO
  3. Drawing a loaded pistol from a holster may only be done by someone who is either holster qualified or under the direct supervision of a holster trainer.
  4. Watch muzzle direction and do not break the 170′ rule as pointing a firearm at anyone will result in instant match disqualification.
  5. Always stay forward of the 25m firing line (red pegs) when discharging firearms
  6. The RO must check all targets before shooting commences
  7. Only use lead projectiles, do not fire jacketed or copper washed ammunition. Shotguns use lead shot only, size 5 or smaller
  8. Loading and unloading must be done at the designated areas. All firearms taken to the line must be checked regardless of whether they were used or not
  9. The safety zone is for unbagging, repair and cleaning only. Do not handle ammunition or use it as a loading table
  10. Do not leave ammo boxes, gun bags or dry fire at the loading table
  11. No one is allowed forward of a shooter unless the RO has declared the range safe
  12. Movement with a cocked firearm is not permitted under CAS rules
  13. Do not unbox pistols in the carpark. All firearms carried off range must be either holstered, bagged or boxed
  14. Load up to a maximum of 10 rounds for rifle, 5 for a revolver and 7 for any semi-auto
  15. “Port arms” is the butt under your arm, and the muzzle at or below the horizontal
  16. Wear appropriate cowboy clothing and footwear, eye and ear protection is compulsory
  17. Cars are parked at this range at their owner’s risk.

Guns and equipment can be expensive. Do not buy anything until you have shot for a while and know what sort of shooting you want to do. Classic Cowboy requires guns of over 40 calibre. Most speed shooters in age groups shoot the less expensive and less recoil .38 specials. Other categories have different requirements again. There are different holster types depending on the category that you shoot as well. Buscadero rigs for “B” Western and mexican loop rigs for Classic Cowboy. There are also different types of guns, for example there are several manufacturers of single action army clones. There are advantages and disadvantages to the different types so again, ask around and try other club members’ guns before you buy.

You can only use side by side shotguns, or the 1897 Winchester pump action or the 1895 Winchester lever action shotgun. Do not leap into buying any old pump action or an over and under.

The sort of lever action rifle you used is also determined by the category you intend to shoot so don’t just go out and buy one. The Henry rifle is a modern version and can only be shot in some categories so seek advice before you buy that model in particular.
The rules for the different categories are set out in the SASS hand book which you should definitely download from the SASS website. It will explain a lot of the queries that you will have.

https://www.sassnet.com/Shooters-Handbook-001A.php

Inevitably once you start shooting, you will want to start reloading ammunition yourself. It is cheaper and you can load cartridges with the weight of powder, and projectile that best suits the shooting competition that you want to do. Ask other experienced shooters before you buy anything. There are lots of different opinions on the best types of equipment and you need to find what will suit you best. Seek several opinions.

You don’t need to get too dressed up as a cowboy to start. A cowboy hat and bandana, jeans and some boots will do. As you get into CAS you will probably want to get more in to character and acquire more clothing and props. You can buy these off the internet, opp shops and western riding shops.
The other CAS members will be only too pleased to help you get started so don’t be afraid to ask.

Wild Bunch

There is a category of shooting that comes under the heading of CAS, called the Wild Bunch. It is loosely based on the Movie of the same name. It involves firing a 1911 colt semi-automatic pistol, an 1897 slide action or model 12 shotgun and a pistol calibre rifle (above 40 calibre).

Wild Bunch has its own rules and safety proceedures.The process to learn to shoot wild bunch is the same as set out above for CAS but varied as necessary for wild bunch rules. Talk to other members who shoot wild bunch for further information. Currently not many at our club shoot wild bunch.
 

Get Started

There is a lot to learn about CAS and it cannot all be set out here so come along to Range 9 and meet the posse. We’ll help you from there.

Cowboy Action Shooting is about having fun with your shooting. Come and try it.