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Grandpa Willie's Cowboy Camp

How does a Cowboy Action Shooting Match Work?


    Every Cowboy Action Shooting Match will start with REGISTRATION. This is most often from 8:30 to 9:30 AM but check for specifics for the match you are going to.

    All shooters are required to register at the office before the match and pay the range fees. Range fees for a five-stage monthly match are typically ten to twenty dollars. Lunch might be included or it might be an extra five bucks or so.

    Plan to register at least 30 minutes before the shooters' meeting so you have time to get your gear ready.


    Shooters will be REQUIRED to attend the SHOOTERS' Meeting. This will be held at the end of the registration period and before the shooting begins.

    Everyone who is going to shoot must attend the shooters' meeting.

    At the shooters' meeting the Range Officer will give the SAFETY BRIEFING and put out any other information the shooters will need.

  3. EYE and EAR protection MANDATORY

    All shooters and spectators at a SASS match are required to wear EYE and EAR protection from the time the shooting begins and until it ends. Wrap-around eye protection is strongly encouraged although not required by SASS.


    Shooters at a SASS match are expected to appear in Cowboy Costumes. Requirements are not strict. Shooters should have cowboy hats and boots, jeans and long-sleeve shirts. Tennies, ball caps, t-shirts and shorts are a no-go.


    Shooters are divided into groups called possies. The possies may be formed during registration or during the shooters' meeting.

    Every shooter must be aware that he or she will be assigned to a posse and must make an effort to find out which posse he or she has been assigned to,- and which stage to start on.


    Every posse will have a Posse Leader.

    The posse leaders will be assigned by the Range Officer and must be experienced SASS shooters. While not required it is suggested that Posse Leaders should take the SASS Range Officers' (RO I) Course.

    Each posse leader is responsible for directing all of the shooters on his posse safely through the match.

    The posse leader will operate the timer.

    Also the posse leader is responsible for recruiting members of his posse to perform the various necessary tasks that each posse must perform:

    • One posse member must be assigned to watch the loading table.
    • One posse member must be assigned to watch the unloading table.
    • One posse member must be assigned to hold the clip board. The clip-board has the score sheets on it for all the shooters on the posse. The shooter holding the clip-board must call out the names of the shooter who is to shoot, the name of the shooter who is to be at the loading table and the names of the shooter who will be comming up next: "ON deck", "in the hole", and "thinking about it". The shooter holding the clip board is responsible for recording scores.
    • Two or three posse members must be assigned to help count misses and watch the shooter.
    • Other posse members must be assigned to pick up spent brass and reset targets.
    • The posse Leader must assign an alternate posse Leader while he is loading and shooting.

  7. The Stages and Course of Fire

    The Cowboy Action Shooting Match consists of a series of "Stages". Normally there are five stages at a one-day monthly match.

    The Stage Scenarios are written and copied before the match by the match Director or his assistants

    Each stage consists of a story and a course of fire.

    For example, the shooter might be required to break his buddies out of jail.

    The Stage Scenario will specify where the shooter is to start, and what he is to do to complete the stage.

    The Posse Leader will read the stage to his posse before shooting for the stage begins and resolve any questions or safety issues. Special dispensation is given to any shooters having physical limitations

    The Scenario will start by specifying the amount of ammunition to be loaded in each gun and the sequence in which the 4 guns are to be fired.

    Rifles and Pistols are loaded at the loading table. Pistols are loaded with only five rounds and the hammer must be down on the empty chamber.

    The shooter watching the loading table must check this as well as the rest of the loading process.

    Pistols are holstered after being loaded.

    The shooter may not leave the loading table with a loaded gun. He must proceed to shoot the stage and in the process: empty all the rounds from his guns.

    Rifles are loaded but the chamber is left empty. The rifle must be levered then before it will fire. Rifles are then staged loaded but not chambered.

    Shotguns are always staged empty with their actions open.

    Example JAIL BREAK Stage:


    Ammo: 10 Rifle 10 Pistol 4 Shotgun
    Sequence: Pistol, pistol, rifle, shotgun.

    Shotgun and rifle staged at the left side of the jail.

    Shooter starts at the hay bale in front of the jail. At the buzzer, shooter enters the jail and flings open the cell door. Shooter hollers "You guys get out of here" and then draws his first pistol. Fast draw is not allowed in SASS competition. Shooter must remove the pistol from the holster and get it down range and then cock it. Shooter engages five pistol targets one shot each, left to right out the back window of the jail cell. Returns first pistol to leather. Shooter then moves to the sheriff's office. Draws second pistol and engages the five pistol targets a second time, one shot each, left to right out the back window of the Sheriff's office. Shooter returns second pistol to leather and follows his buddies out the front door of the jail. Shooter moves to the left side of the jail and picks up rifle. Engage ten rifle targets, one shot each, left to right. Open the rifle and set it back down. Get shotgun. Knock down 4 poppers, any order but must shoot until all the poppers are down.

    Procedurals: 10 sec. for not hollering "You guys get out of here!".


    The posse Leader is responsible for briefing his group on the Stage Scenario and Course of Fire before the first shooter is sent to the loading table.

    Only one shooter shoots on any one stage at any one time.

    As each shooter comes to the starting point for his turn to shoot, the posse Leader will ask: "Does the shooter understand the course of fire". If not, the shooter will be re-briefed until he is ready. In addition the posse Leader will coach the shooter along the way if need be. When the shooter has finished firing he will proceed to the un-loading table. At the un-loading table shooter will empty his guns while another shooter checks this. Other posse members will pickup brass and bring it to the un-loading table. When the shooter has unloaded his guns and the guns have been checked the shooter will take his guns off-line making sure the actions remain open and that his pistols remain holstered. Most shooters keep their guns, ammo and other necessities on a small cart.

  9. Next Stage

    Normally posse 1 starts on Stage 1 and proceeds to Stage 2 when all shooters have completed Stage 1. The posse on Stage 5 will then move to Stage 1. The posse Leader is responsible to see to this and make sure that his posse does not move to shoot any stage out of sequence.


    An electronic timer is used that picks up the reports from the shooter's guns. Each time a shot is fired the timer will display the elapsed time, taken since the shooter started (at the buzzer). When the last shot is fired the posse Leader will read and show the shooter's time to the score-keeper who is the shooter with the clip-board.

    Scores are tabulated in the office during the after the match and the match ends with an awards ceremony and drawing for door-prizes.


    A SASS match in conducted using steel targets. Bullets must be ALL LEAD and this requirement is inspected at the loading table for each stage. PISTOL ammunition is limited to 1,000 fps. Rifles to 1,400 fps. Shotguns should check for local restrictions: while SASS allows No.4 shot your local club may specify No.6 or No.7 1/2

    Targets are usually of steel and are socred "Hit or Miss". SASS is an ACTION game and so targets of generous size are used at moderate distances. Pistol targets are generally placed from 7 to 10 yards, rifle targets at 15 to 50 yards and shotgun targets at 8 to 15 yards distance. There will be some "splatter" from the targets but your Cowboy Outfit will protect you from this.

  12. Old West Style guns

    To shoot in a Cowboy Action match requires four guns: 2 single action pistols with a gun belt and holsters, a lever action rifle chambered for pistol cartriges, and a Side by Side (SxS) shotgun (Winchester 97s are also allowed). Shotguns may not have auto-ejectors but extractors are OK, i.e. when you break your shotgun open if the empties are spring loaded and jump out by themselves that is a no-go.


Shooters will want to read the SHOOTERS HANDBOOK, available from SASS

Safety Briefing

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� 12th Oct., 1999 Gramp. Willie. All Rights Reserved. Rev.20AUG2002 Permission is granted to any SASS Member to reproduce and redistribute this message provided that the original text and copyright are retained intact.

This page was updated on 5/3/2007 2