Cowboy shooting, what a great sport for someone who wants to shoot guns, have a great time, create some bragging rights and make great friends. Today, it might be a challenge to find a place to shoot and make new friends. I shoot SASS, not the only type of “cowboy” shootin’ but the type I started with years ago. Saturday, July 21st was my dad’s birthday and I wanted to do something special with him and yes, it was spending the day shooting and having fun with friends.
At a small place off the beaten path, Pine Ridge Regulators is just north of Brazil, Indiana. When you turn off the gravel road and drive another mile of driveway, around the lake and “through” the woods you come into a beautiful, manicured area where a lot of people have put in a lot of hours. The area includes six stages with buildings and props to include targets that will move as you shoot them. Now, I’ve never been ‘into’ the big shoots as I don’t have any real interest in the competition, but I have many friends who travel the United States shooting at those big events. They have a lot of fun. And, sometimes win.
But, let’s get back to the Regulators’ shoot and how much fun it can be for anyone, whether a man, woman or child. The Pine Ridge Regulars is a small, home town club that puts the focus on fun. At any given time, you can find someone who is willing to help out, give advice and share a story.
I remember the first time I shot, and you need to remember I’ve been shooting for fifty years. I was a little nervous the first time I went to the line and one of the guys, who later became a great friend, called me a “sissy shooter”. Now, you might say to yourself that wasn’t a nice thing to say but for me, it was the right thing to say. I wanted to prove I could shoot with the guys that day and my nerves were gone. I hit every target and in pretty good time.
A cowboy shoot normally starts with a sign-in period followed by a meeting just prior to the event. The pledge of allegiance is said by all with a prayer said by none other than my father, alias Preacher. Names are called for the posses, and the groups move off to the stage they’re starting on for the day. The buzzers sound and you can hear lead going down range. The “ding” is heard by everyone as the lead hits steal. The posses move from stage to stage, slinging lead and having a great time. At the end of the day, the scores are tallied, winners congratulated until next month when they start over again.
So, what’s involved with cowboy shooting? Well, most of the time you need a couple of revolvers, a long gun (rifle) and shotgun. The firearms are considered period, something that could have been around in the late 1900s, in general. Me, I use a couple Ruger handguns, a Winchester 1911 shotgun with a Rossi rifle.
This month I’d like to share with you about the handguns. There are many points which determines what handgun you can use in a match. Money is one of the biggest factors. How much money do you want to spend? How much do you know about the handgun? Could you fix it or know someone who could if something went wrong? Is it a brand name? Each person must figure that out at the time they start shooting. When I started, I had one gun that I could use, a Ruger 44 mag, 3-screw. Now, I had to shoot in the modern class, but I could still use it. I needed one more and as luck would have it – for me, I was able to use my father’s handgun, as he shot with me.
This brings us to another point, the caliber. What caliber should you use? As you can see, the caliber I use is not really a caliber that most cowboy shooters would use. I bet you’re laughing about right now, but at the time that’s all I had and that was the caliber. I know I laugh about it myself from time to time. Most people want to shoot to compete and it’s great, but I shoot for the fellowship of the game. But, that’s a discussion for another time. Most shooters I know want to use a handgun that would allow for easy transition from target to target safely. They also want to shoot fast. I’ve seen people use a .32 to a .45 Lone Colt. If you’re a seasoned shooter, you know what you might want to use. However, if you’re new, not only to the sport but to firearms in general, you want to do your research first before you buy your guns. What I suggest you look at is the following…
- Does the gun feel good in your hand when you pick it up?
- When you shoot it, how does it feel?
- Can you control the gun?
- Are you safe with it?
- How heavy is the gun, as you’re going to wear two of these on your hips for hours?
- What can you afford? You don’t want to take money away from family, bills or the household. Be responsible there….
- Do you know what the cost is for a box of ammunition? That is also something to consider.
- What about your leather for the handguns? How much will it cost?
- Does it feel right on you?
- Is it difficult to bring the gun out of the holster?
These are just a few questions that you need to ask yourself when you make the “jump” into cowboy shooting and the purchase of handguns for the sport. I would also encourage you to visit the website of both, the Pine Ridge Regulators and SASS to see what fun it can be and look at the rules that you’d need to follow. Next month we’ll explore shotguns that might work for you, if you’d like to try a great sport.