Women’s Outdoor News welcomes competition shooter Randi Rogers to its ranks of columnists. Randi writes “The Rogers Report,” sponsored by Smith & Wesson. We know you’ll enjoy Randi’s shooting knowledge and her tales of adventure, especially as she embarks on her inaugural year as a Smith & Wesson-sponsored competition shooter.
Every little girl dreams of what she will be when she grows up. When I was growing up I had the amazing opportunity to be a real life cowgirl.
When I was 11-years old, through a twist of fate, I started participating in Cowboy Action Shooting. Cowboy Action Shooting is a competitive shooting sport where participants use firearms made, or replicas of firearms made, before 1900 to engage steel targets, in Western-themed courses of fire, all while wearing period clothing. With the help of my grandparents, Evil Roy and Wicked Felina, I chose the alias of “Holy Terror” and became a real life cowgirl — hat, boots and all!
Throughout the years I have had a lot of individuals ask me about the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting; how do you get into cowboy action shooting, what kind of equipment do you use and do you really like to dress up?
The first and best place to find information on the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting is from the main organizing body — the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS). A group of shooters who wanted to compete with their single-action firearms started SASS 1981. They loved history, they loved shooting and they loved competing, so they started a shooting sport that involved all 3.
No matter what sport or hobby you get into, you must have the tools-of-the-trade. Cowboy Action Shooting requires 7 pieces of equipment: 2 single-action pistols, a pistol-caliber, lever-action rifle, a pump or double-barrel shotgun, a leather belt and holsters and a period costume.
If you have never had the opportunity to shoot a single-action pistol, you are truly missing out on one of life’s greatest joys. To me, shooting a single-action pistol is a perfect skill to have — like driving a stick shift, writing a letter with pen and paper or mixing cookies with a wooden spoon. Sure, they make snazzier, faster, more technologically advanced ways to do all of these things, but when you go back to the basics, it gives you a certain sense of pride to do it the old fashioned way.
Pistol-caliber, lever-action rifles
The first time that I shot a lever-action rifle I was so small that I had to balance it on the back of a folding chair. It was love at first shot. Lever-action rifles offer the same single-action fun of the pistols but with a longer barrel making it easier to shoot. When you get the rhythm of working the lever, pulling the trigger, working the lever, pulling the trigger, it is a perfect harmony and so much fun!
Pump-action or double-barrel shotguns
Shooting a pump-style shotgun is extra fun because you get to pump it and make that “chunk, chunk” sound that is so famous in movies. Shooting a double barrel reminds me a lot of shooting a revolver, in that it is all about the loading. In Cowboy Action your shotgun always starts complete empty and double-barrel firearms are not allowed to have automatic ejectors. Shooting shotgun is a process of loading, shooting, emptying and reloading. Seeing an expert in motion is poetry.
Leather belt and holsters
I think the leather might be my favorite part of shooting Cowboy Action. As a gangly teenage girl – all arms and legs – strapping on a set of 6 guns boosted my self-esteem greatly. Suddenly, it didn’t matter so much that I looked like a fencepost, I became an old cowpoke headed to the OK Corral.
“Costume” can be a misleading word. The clothing of Cowboy Action Shooting may not be the norm for most of us. I usually don’t wear my cowboy hat in regular life. A lot of spectators can be put off by the idea of having the “dress up,” but the costuming part can be as important as you choose to make it. Some SASS competitors love the history involved in the costume and want to dress exactly as Wild Bill Hickok did, down to the style of his buttons. However if a competitor prefers to wear jeans, boots and a button-down shirt, that is OK, too. The clothing in Cowboy Action is another way to enjoy the historical references of the sport. The cowboy hat keeps the sun off your face and neck, suspenders hold your pants up and boots keep you from stubbing your toe.
Growing up in the sport of Cowboy Action was an amazing experience. With all the demands of adult life, I don’t get to shoot SASS as much as I would like, but when I do get to go back, it is like stepping back in time. Suddenly it is 1900 and my posse and I have to head down to the sheriff’s office, because word is there are some cattle rustlers in town and my grandparents need help protecting their stock.
For more information on SASS or Cowboy Action Shooting please visit www.sassnet.com.