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Old November 11, 2011, 05:31 PM   #1
NickW
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What Gives with Cowboy Action Shooting?

This is an honest inquiry; I’m not trying to start any arguments, so here goes. I was watching some Cowboy action shooting on the tube and noticed that when the Cow - Boys/Girls compete there’s no smoke or recoil in some but not all of the weapons. What gives? Everybody’s decked out in old west garb and talking like Festus on Gunsmoke; yet, the weapons seem to be firing split peas… If the idea is to keep the tradition alive why the extreme short cut on the ammo? If your shooting against the clock it doesn’t seem fair, .45 Colt vs. .split pea. I can understand if someone has physical limitations but they all seemed healthy; what gives?
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Old November 11, 2011, 05:43 PM   #2
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Well you've got your gamers with mouse phart loads who just wanna win at all costs and then you have your warthogs that just wanna have fun and don't care about winning.
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Old November 11, 2011, 07:33 PM   #3
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The 'idea' isn't to keep the tradition alive. The idea is speed, speed and more speed. The dress up is not important, despite the lengths some go to.
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Old November 11, 2011, 07:33 PM   #4
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What Hawg said.
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Old November 11, 2011, 07:52 PM   #5
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There are those of us who try, as much as we can, to dress the part and shoot the type of guns and ammo that you'd have seen in the Old West. CASS is a business and the faster is better gang rules the game. I just try my best to have fun.
BTW, you could check into NCOWS, they try to shoot and dress 'the old West'.
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Old November 11, 2011, 07:54 PM   #6
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NCOWS clubs are few and far between.
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Old November 11, 2011, 08:04 PM   #7
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I should clarify something I wrote above. CAS rules are written to emphasize speed, not clothing correctness. Those who enjoy the clothing and other accoutrements do so to celebrate tradition but get no 'credit' within the CAS scoring scheme for doing so. There are no 'threadcount police' in CAS as I understand it. I meant no disrespect for the traditionalists within CAS ranks, but it's a fact that speed, not tradition, scores points in CAS.
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Old November 11, 2011, 08:05 PM   #8
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What Fingers McGee said.
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Old November 11, 2011, 08:12 PM   #9
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No there's no thread count. A minimum of period type clothing is required except in B western where it's a little more and flashy. Jeans, collarless long sleeve shirt and boots without lugs on the soles is all you really have to have.
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Old November 11, 2011, 10:11 PM   #10
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Sure, those that shoot light loads don't have much recoil to deal with. But just like in the other shooting sports good shooters who are shooting ammo with more oomph are good at controlling the recoil to quickly get back on target. Watch IDPA or USPSA videos and you'll see the guns don't appear to be recoiling much either.
If you go to a match you may run into a shooter who acts like an old west or movie character, but no, everyone isn't walking around talking like Festus or anything like that.
It also isn't a matter of shooting higher powered ammo and doing lousy either. Many shooters who shoot the heavier ammo get a kick out of how many of the lighter loading shooters they can beat.
The top shooters aren't generally shooting hotter ammo but if they switched guns and ammo with everyone else, they'd still beat 99% of the shooters out there. Mark
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Old November 11, 2011, 11:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
but if they switched guns and ammo with everyone else, they'd still beat 99% of the shooters out there.
But we'll never know. The Gamers will never give up .32s, short strokes, lowered hammers and tennis soled boots. I have to admit it's funny to see a .32 slowly arc down range only to hit a steel target and slowly fall to the ground intact.
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Old November 11, 2011, 11:10 PM   #12
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By far most of the top shooters shoot 38's, not 32's. Medium loads, not the ultra light loads. The ultra light loads are mostly shot by those that "think" they are an advantage, not the top shooters. Mark
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Old November 12, 2011, 01:29 AM   #13
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I have studied discussions on the topics of speed-vs-tradition-vs authenticity. I have witnessed many,many arguments that have broken out over the nearly 2 years Ihave been intrested in CAS! Some were pretty vio;entley supported and some got to plain stupid!
The answers are right in thr Rules and if you follow them you won't have a problem, however the Rules leave just enough of a grey area (especally about high/low velocity loads that either cub could swear it is totally supported by the "open" wording.
Those out there that are intrested in stacking up championships and trophys are supported bythe simple "Knockover" requirement. The fact that a .36caliber ball powered by 15gr of a patched ball load which will indeed knock over the steel, the ft/lbs of energy CAN be translated into SSmokless powder loads Yes it is possible to topple the target if hit squarely by a "light" .38 load which also has very reduced recoil and can cause recover the sight ppicutre qicklly! An unfair edge...
I think the loads should be defined as to a top ft/lbs for each caliber
If you tewst faqctory CAS loads to see the differences between the velocitys and ft/lbs of varoius batches of factory charges! In .45 Colt, thr factory olads can be seen over a chroy.
The other issues of "dress" and sporit of the game should also be furtheraddressed and better resolved.
It'd sure bring the community closer
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Old November 12, 2011, 08:33 AM   #14
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It is funny watching some of these videos on you-tube. My experience at an actual CAS shoot was totally different than what I saw on the tube.

For the most part, the folks shooting where members of a social club. A couple of the guys I met were really serious competitors. The others were enjoying themselves.

I wanted to get in to the CAS shooting but because of physical disabilities, I can not.

There is a gun club in Higginsville Missouri that does the CAS thing. Wonderful people, great time and helpful. I met a guy who let me ride with him between the shoots. (I kept falling down and was having trouble keeping up with them when they moved to different props.)
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Old November 12, 2011, 12:24 PM   #15
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On the SASS internet forum one of the things you hear said a lot is, "The SASS wire is not SASS". On the forum people discuss all kinds of issues having to do with cowboy shooting and argue back and forth, but when you go to the actual matches you rarely hear the complaints. Prospective new SASS shooters who haven't gone to matches and are basing their opinions about cowboy shooting only on the internet forums they come across don't get an accurate feel for what cowboy action shooting really is. Mark
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Old November 12, 2011, 01:29 PM   #16
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Cowboy Action?

“What gives?”, you asked. Well, here is a letter I sent to SASS a couple of years ago.

Dear Wild Bunch,

I was just going to let my membership lapse quietly but since you asked why, I'll tell you why. Although I didn't join SASS until recently, I have been shooting Cowboy matches with my kids since 1997. I do not like what SASS has turned into and I do not see it ever changing back. Possibly another organization will start up like IDPA did when USPSA kept ignoring calls for change.

The final match I attended was the last straw. The pistol targets were 5 paces away and the size of a big screen TV. The rifle targets were at 7 to 10 paces and the same size. They were either all in a row or some boring sequence like 1-2-1-2-1-2. Every stage was the same with some slight variation in the target engagement . It would be one thing if it were only one club but every Cowboy Match I have attended in the last year is the same old song. The Cowboy Chronicle even crows about various matches where “targets were real close and big so shooters could blaze away”. Big targets, up close, no movement except possibly 5 to 7 paces laterally, no test of shooting ability and boring, boring, boring. Cowboy Action? I don't think so.

When I see a 280 lb guy shooting a .38 Special with two hands and shooting pitty-pat loads to boot, I just cringe. I think back to some of the first years of Cowboy shooting. Most everyone shot .45 Colts, most shot one handed unless they had arthritis or some other ailment (or were women or children), and loads were pretty standard, 225 or 250 grain bullets at least 700 to 800 fps. Loads were predicated on the old axiom “it needs to take down a hostile or his horse at 100 yards” or if a cowboy is on foot will it take down a charging longhorn? We actually had some courses set up like USPSA where we changed positions with guns drawn and sometimes engaged targets “on the move” (Oh my God!). Rifle targets were small and at distances of 35 to 75 yards. You actually had to slow down and take careful aim and sometimes even kneel (just like you would in real life). These were fun, challenging courses and they improved your shooting and thinking skills.

Those type matches are a distant memory. A year or so ago, I went to back to basics, shooting Classic Cowboy, double dualist, .45 Colt, full charge black powder loads. Something, anything to capture some of the original enjoyment. Well, you can never go home again. The modern SASS courses of fire have killed any chance of that. SASS has become a costumed, social gathering with shooting involved.

I might shoot a Cowboy match every once in a while, just to see if anything has changed. But for regular monthly shooting, my sons and I have gone to IDPA. They've got good scenarios, challenging skill and speed standards, shooting on the move, scoot, reload and shoot some more. We might even do some three gun matches to keep rifle and shotgun skills sharp. So, thanks for the memories and I wish you well, but for me, it's “Adios, amigos”.

Never received an answer, of course. Bill
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Old November 12, 2011, 02:40 PM   #17
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"I agree with much of that letter"

Target distance (or lack-there-of) is what spoils the matches. My daddy would have slapped me down (still would) if he caught me shooting a steel plate as close as the ones they shoot at the matches. First time I saw that stunt, I started yelling at the guy.."What are you doing!!!"..Are you stupid?!!...DON"T shoot that plate right in front of us!, You are going to KILL US"!!

Since the the range was set up on our property, my brother and I used to go there and shoot when there was no match going on. I had been practicing the whole time on the rifle targets and was doing pretty good and haveing a great time, I thought "this is easy","Let's go to a match"...Had no idea that they were the rifle targets we had been shooing with our 45s..

The gamers may still win, but they would earn it a lot more if the distance of some of the pistol shots was moved out and if reactive/topple targets were used the matches would be much more realistic and fun. If heavy targets were required to be toppled to count as a hit then the mouse phart loads would disappear. And if "some" of the pistol shots were out at 50 yards or more things would surely add a challenge element and remove the bordom.

I do enjoy the dress-up and atmosphere at the matches...just a lot of fun and the kids love it
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Old November 12, 2011, 03:14 PM   #18
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While I still defend SASS from a lot of people who have a lot of misconceptions about it, I agree completely about the target sizes and distances. It is primarily a speed game and when you try to shoot those close targets as fast as possible, you will have an occasional miss. A lot of people in SASS figure you can't complain that the targets are too big and close because you don't shoot every match clean. It is set up so that very inexperienced shooters can hit the targets, but I don't see why people can't accept a few misses during a match.
I've shot SASS for over 10 years. Someone mentioned a splinter group from SASS, similar to IDPA forming after IPSC/USPSA changed. There is a small orginization called Western 3 Gun. They use steel plates with a center knockout or overlay and if you hit those (knockdown the knockout) you get a -1 second bonus for each one hit. Also the they use a lot of walls and building facades to divide up the targets, 2 revolver targets here, 2 over there, you're shooting on the move, not standing in one place and shooting all the revolver or rifle targets. There aren't a lot of clubs because it's quite an extra expense to buy enough of those targets.
I only shoot a couple of SASS matches a year now and primarily shoot ICORE, IDPA, USPSA and we just started a Ruger Rimfire match at our club. Mark
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Old November 12, 2011, 03:32 PM   #19
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I view it like golf; a game I simply don't care to play.

I'm also smart enough to realize that CAS has brought literally thousands of shooters into the fold- and that those shooters vote.

Sooo... Yeee-haw! Ride 'em cowboys! Wear chartreuse bandannas and purple fuzzy chaps if you want... just keep bringing them into the fold.
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Old November 12, 2011, 04:25 PM   #20
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I wanted to get in to the CAS shooting but because of physical disabilities, I can not.
I've shot with folks using Walkers and a couple of guys in wheelchairs. We don't turn anyone away that can safely discharge a gun down range. I used to shoot once a month with a kid who had MS, he shoot as much as he could then watch. He had a great time.
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Old November 12, 2011, 05:22 PM   #21
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Shotgun, I have days when I seem fine and then all of a sudden I fall down.

The club in Higginsville, MO, I am sure, would work with me, but personal and personnel safety would be questionable. (I usually sit to shoot.) I would still highly recommend to anyone to go see a match and meet the folks.

I also have to agree, the CAS has gotten a lot of folks in to shooting.
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Old November 13, 2011, 12:35 AM   #22
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There was a time when IPSC used real guns with real recoil,then along the way the scores became 'the thing' instead of the shooting,and here came the race guns,mandated power factors,etc.

Cowboy shooting has followed that same path,good or bad.Tuned guns,light loads,etc have sure changed the game.But only for some.

but not for me,I still uses stock guns firing ammo that rings the steel nicely,and I still after every match no matter how I shot. I'll never catch the fast guys,and could care less.We all have a LOT of fun at every match, Funy Clothing not with standing. LOL

The only downside to cowboy shooting is . .. not enough shooting. Actual time shooting in a 6-stage match is less than 4 minutes,but the fun lasts all day !!
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Old November 13, 2011, 10:02 AM   #23
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By the time my I exited the Marine Corps, the novelty of machine guns & semi-autos had worn off & I'd found out about SASS, to my delight. I grew up on western films & the history of the American Frontier. I'm still reading Louis L'Amour novels. I was given a copy of Guns of the Old West magazine & soon discovered the now-defunct (sniffle) Shoot!.

Nonetheless, it took a while for me to make it to a SASS match & while everybody seemed enthused about the game & the prospect of a new member, I, too, was taken aback by the closeness of the targets & the light loads. I was also struck by how enthused the group was to get the match over with. I've since been to a just a couple more matches in different areas & they're all the same. It's all over with so fast that I wonder if there is an unspoken urgency to shoot a match in less time than the vaunted OK Corral fight took.

Why the hurry?

I drool over the cartridge conversions & asked why everybody has the Peacemaker. It was explained that the construction of the 1873 is much sturdier than the open-topped Colts & therefore is much more tolerant of heavier chamber pressures.

What heavier chamber pressures!? You could ring those targets with wax bullets at the distance the matches are set up at, not worry at all about pieces of lead coming back at you & leave the earplugs home!

I borrowed a rifle at a match & quickly put every round into the same spot on the target. Someone marveled at my accuracy & I was tempted to turn & spit on the steel...not as an insult but rather to indicate that, particularly with a rifle, accuracy at that distance should cost no effort at all.

It is my intention to attend more matches, if for nothing else than to be around my kinda nerd. It is fun, albeit very, very quickly. To show up & dump your ammo ASAP is just boring, though. Speed is nice & it certainly counts for something, but I read somewhere that Hickock advised to take your time. Certainly every bit of training I ever received as a Marine grunt emphasized accuracy over speed & while we definitely found targets much closer to us than anybody in a "real situation" should desire, accuracy ALWAYS trumps speed. Ask Dave Tutt...um, or not.
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Old November 13, 2011, 10:51 AM   #24
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Anyone a round San Antonio Texas who'd like to start an NCOWS Club, contact me. Or we could even doing something of our own, who knows. BTW, I have a range to use, 'A Place To Shoot' has SASS and Wild Bunch already.
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Old November 13, 2011, 12:21 PM   #25
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<--- NOT a gamer.

The way it was meant to be, with a 7 1/2" .45 in each hand loaded to the hilt with black powder and 250 grain cast bullets.

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