Cowboy Action

What Is Cowboy Shooting?

Cowboy shooting is a gathering of people who want to have fun shooting the old-style firearms used by the cowboys both real and film heroes. We shoot lead bullets at metal targets using shotgun, rifle, and pistol.

Are There Age Restrictions?

In New York we are governed by the laws of the state.  Fortunately, those rules have changed lately to allow youth shooters age 12 and up to participate with parental permission. We frequently have shooters into their 80’s competing.  Again, safety is paramount and all must obey safe gun handling procedures.  If you have a physical disability we can find a way to accommodate your needs.

What type of firearms do you use?

Generally anything from the period pre-1900.  Lever guns need to have exposed hammers, shotguns are either side by side without ejectors, or a pump Winchester model ’97.  Pistols are single action clones. Usually rifles and pistols are in the same caliber.

What Calibers Do You Use?

A variety of calibers can be found at any shoot, but all are limited to pistol calibers.  Pistol ammunition is limited to under 1000 fps and rifle to under 1500 fps.  This means no magnum loads.  Common calibers are .38 special (.357 loaded to 38 data), 44 and 45 long colt.  Sometimes you will find a .32 or the original black powder loads.

Youth shooters can use 22 rim fire on the pistol and rifle targets as well as .410 shotguns.  Bullets are all lead, of the Round Nose, Flat Point (RNFP) or (RNTC) variety.

Is Period Clothing Required?

Wouldn’t be cowboy shooting if we all came in ball caps, shorts and sneakers.  However, we realize the cost of outfitting can be prohibitive and will allow you to begin shooting without all the trappings.  Jeans and a long sleeve shirt would be a good start.  Many of us have found banded collar shirts and vests at local Salvation Army store, Walmart or Kmart.  Eventually hats, boots, scarves, spurs, chaps can all be added.  Some categories require a certain level of dress.  Classic Cowboy requires a combination of spurs, chaps etc., whereas B Western require the flowered fancy accouterments usually found in the old cowboy movies.

Do I Need Everything to Start Shooting Cowboy?

It is best if you come to a shoot BEFORE you go out and buy equipment.  There are so many styles and choices to be made it is an advantage to come and try a few before spending a lot of money.  You can start out using either long gun (rifle or shotgun) or one or two pistols.

Is Cowboy Shooting a Competitive Sport?

Basically yes, however we have several categories both by age and style of shooting that allows shooters to compete against people in similar situations.  The emphasis, however, is on fun.  It is a family sport that makes shooting enjoyable for everyone.

Is Cowboy Shooting Safe with All Those Guns Around?

Safety is our main concern.  Because we are a family-oriented sport every one of us has stake in making these events as safe as possible.  All firearms are unloaded with actions open.  At the loading table someone at the table insures all firearms are loaded correctly and safe gun handling procedures are maintained.  A RO calls the shooter to the line and is responsible for starting the string of fire, watching for safe muzzle direction and safe handling.  At the end of the string the RO sends the shooter to the unload table where someone watches and checks to ensure all firearms on the line are properly and safely unloaded. Only then is the competitor allowed to return to their gun cart.

How Are Shoots Scored?

A RO accompanies every shooter through the stage.  He starts the stage with a timer that keeps track of the total time it takes you to go through the stage.  Misses add 5 seconds to that time and procedurals add 10 seconds. The lowest time in your category is the winner.  We have shooters who for 10 rifle, 10 pistol and 4 shotgun will take 20 seconds and we have shooters who take 120 seconds.  The goal is to have fun.

Can I Retrieve My Brass?

Of course.  Most of us reload in order to cut the cost of shooting down.  We each take turns picking brass after the shooter has left the line and removed his firearms.

I’ve Never Shot Before Can I Learn?

Absolutely!  We frequently bring brand new shooters into the sport.  This is the perfect venue for new shooters to learn gun handling procedures and safety.  We have many trained individuals who can walk you through a scenario and explain shooting techniques to new shooters.  If you feel particularly bashful or would like one on one training, we encourage new shooters to come to one of our set up days where there are only a few people around and we can take the time to walk you through each step.  Even at you first couple of shoots we assign a Mentor to accompany you through the day.

Is Membership Required? What are the Fees?

Of course, we recommend you become a member of Pathfinders and you can get a discount by signing up for the year for $45 if you are a member.  Otherwise shoots cost $10 per person, youth shooters 17 and younger are free.  Membership in the National organization is highly recommended.  SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) maintains a record of shooters Alias’, sponsors regional and state matches, provides a digital newsletter and sets training and shoot standards for the sport.  Participation in State events requires a SASS membership.

Do I Need an Alias?

Yes, everyone shoots under a Cowboy style alias.  Part of the fun is the level playing field created by not knowing a lot about who you are shooting with.  Their performance and sportsmanship on the range are what matters.  Plus, it’s just fun.  We can assign you a name to start and you can change it when you find one that fits you.  As mentioned elsewhere SASS maintains a list of registered Alias’ so there won’t be a hundred Lone Rangers etc.  A favorite city, river, street, someone in the family, from history, the possibilities are endless.  It also gives you the foundation to build a character around that name.  You can be a dance hall girl, riverboat captain, scout, trail boss, and even pass on to your family surnames, Dunn and Ida Shotwell, for example.

Are There Other Cowboy Clubs in the Area?

Currently there are about 20 clubs in New York.  Depending on how far you want to drive you can attend a shoot just about every weekend day during the month.  Frequently shooters from the Sackets Harbor Vigilantes, the Oxford Regulators, the Tioga Cowboys and the Bar 20 attend our matches as we do theirs.


When Do You Shoot

We are scheduled to shoot the first Sunday of the month from April to November (weather permitting).  On the preceding Saturday we set up the stages and invite new shooters to come and try out a stage or two without the pressures of an actual competition.  Just stop by, or, contact one of our members and we will walk you through and teach you everything you need to know.

Contact information :

Ron Goyer ( Dunn Shotwell)

Robin Warren (Black Jack Belle)

Mark Schmitt (Gunsmoke Gus)

Article written by Ron Goyer

Pathfinder Fish & Game Club