Hello! We are members of the Single Action Shooting Society, or SASS. SASS is the organizing body for the fast growing sport of cowboy action shooting, or CAS. They have a website: http://www.sassnet.com/ They also have a forum there called the SASS Wire. If there is ever any question needing answered, not just CAS, but anything, there will be someone there to help you. It can get a little unruly, as everyone has their own opinion, but it isnt too bad to sort through. Another good CAS site is http://www.cascity.com/. There are many wonderful areas there appealing to more specific interests, like leather working, long range shooting, or just shooting the bull.
In CAS, shooters compete for time using firearms representing those which were in use before 1900. Replicas are allowable, but many original firearms are in use. Shooters are required to use 2 single action revolvers in pistol calibers, a lever or hammered slide-action rifle, in a pistol caliber. No 30-30s, 444 Marlin, 45-70s, etc are allowed as main match guns. Shotguns required are either single or double barrel break open shotguns, or a hammered pump as the Winchester 1897. There are Model 98 Marlin slide-action shotguns too. Currently they are NOT legal for SASS sanctioned events due to safety reasons posted by Marlin. Some ranges may allow them, so it is best to ask your range officer before using the Marlin shotgun. The legal calibers for shotguns are 10ga, 12ga, 16 ga, and 20 ga. For the Winchester 97s only 12 and 16ga is legal.
In SASS, members choose an alias by which they go by at competitions. It adds to the fun and atmosphere when you have names like, Billy the kid, Wyatt Earp, and other famous characters of the Wild West. Well, there were only so many famous names to choose from, and no one can have the same name. People had to get creative, so there are names like: Howdy Doody, Badlands Bud, Evil Roy, Holy Terror, Slow Loadin' Katie, Dusty Balz, Deer Creek Drifter, Cheyenne Kate, and numerous others. The only limit to a name is imagination, and if the SASS HQ will allow it. If it sounds like someone else's name, then it wont be allowed. Also, keep them in good taste. It is a family game. My alias is Dalton Masterson, and my wife is Freeda Bee Mee.
Shooting events are shot while wearing Wild West era clothes too! Guys can be seen wearing anything from a full 1880's era tux, to a guy wearing red longjohns. Women may wear bustles, and fancy dresses, and some may be dressed as soiled doves. The nice thing is there is no requirement other than boots, and a button up long sleeved shirt. You don't have to dress the part, but it sure adds to the fun. It all depends on YOUR mood and what you want to be. Just keep it old west.
There is also a "B" Western category where people dress as their favorite star of the silver screen. This is where you see the John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Hoppalong Cassidy themed outfits.
How do these shooting matches work? First of all, you are assigned to a posse. The posse moves along stage to stage, much like a golf group moves hole to hole. Only difference is we have a LOT more fun. There are also chores to do while you are there. There will be a Posse leader, who is in charge of reading the stages and making sure everyone understands the course of fire. There are always 3 counters, to count misses. There is always someone at the loading table, to make sure that everyone loads the correct number of rounds in their gun and to maintain safety. In CAS, revolvers are always loaded with an empty chamber under the hammer. Once the guns are loaded, they either stay on the loading table if you leave, or you stand there with them in your holsters. They are never to sweep anyone at any time. Safety is the biggest thing here. Guns on the line cannot break the 170degree plane. Meaning the guns are always pointing downrange, even at the loading and unloading tables. They cannot be pointing at 180, which would be pointing at the next posse. Everyone is a safety officer. If you see something unsafe, say something. CAS has a very good safety record, and we want to keep that record, and you around. Safety glasses are a must! There are pieces of lead, called splatter, that occasionally bounce back and hit spectators. It usually doesnt hurt, but on occasion, it can draw blood. Another reason for long sleeve shirts! Hearing protection is not required, but HIGHLY suggested.
Then its your turn to shoot. You stand there, with the timer in your ear, waiting for the buzz, thinking do I shoot the left targets first, or the right. Buzz. You draw, shoot your 5, reholster, draw your second pistol, shoot 5, reholster, move to the rifle, which is usually staged ahead of time. Pick it up, lever it, and shoot 10. Sometimes, there will be a reload on the clock, sometimes not. Depends on how the stage was written. After your last rifle shot, you set it down with the action OPEN, and move to your shotgun. Shotguns are not staged loaded and are open. You must load them off your body on the clock. You grab your shotgun, grab a shell or 2, load, shoot, unload, load, shoot, unload, and the stage is done. The timer will quit after the last shot. Now, how did you do? If you missed a target, you get 5 seconds added to your time for each target missed. Speed is not the name of the game, accuracy is. Speed will come later. If you shoot them out of order, you get 10 sec. added, but only once. That is called a procedural. Did you forget to say the line they told you to say at the beginning? That is also a procedural. It all adds to the fun.
When you are done shooting, you move to the unloading table, keeping in mind to keep your guns pointing downrange. At the unloading table, you will....unload your guns. There will be someone manning the table to check your firearms to make sure they are empty. Lever your rifle a few times, and spin your cylinders so the guy can see. Dont forget to check that shotgun for an empty too! We want NO loaded firearms behind the shooting line. The only loaded guns are the ones at the loading table, and the ones shooting.
When you are done at the unloading table, move your firearms to your gun cart, which is what we use to move all our guns and accessories around with, and grab a job as a brass shagger, a counter, man a table, or just watch, and be ready to grab a job when needed. When everyone has shot the stage that you just finished, you move to the next one, and start all over again.
We shoot at Hill City, KS with the Millbrook Wranglers. http://millbrook.ruraltel.net/index.html They have a wonderful little town set up and good props. They are always helpful and usually have about 20 shooters at each match. They have their annual Millbrook Massacre, which is a 4 day match, with about 100 shooters. It is a shoot well worth attending. The Wranglers shoot on the 2nd Sunday of the month.
We also shoot at Grand Island Nebraska's two SASS clubs, the Flatwater Shootists, and the Platte Valley Gunslingers. You can contact the Platte Valley Gunslingers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.