Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) is a competitive shooting sport that originated in California in the early 1980s, and has since spread all around the globe. Today a well-to-do cowboy can shoot a match in Texas one Saturday, Germany the next, and Australia the one after that.
CAS requires competitors to use firearms typical of the mid- to late 19th century: two single action revolvers, a lever action rifle chambered in a pistol caliber, and a period shotgun such as a side-by-side double-barrel (with or without external hammers), a Winchester 1887 lever-action, or 1897 pump. Both original and reproduction guns may be used so long as they are safe and of the appropriate type. All handguns must be “single-action”, meaning that the hammer must be manually cocked before each shot can be fired, and double-barreled shotguns may not have automatic ejectors. At a typical Caballeros match, you’ll see most every major type of pistol, rifle, and shotgun from the period, according to the personal preference of the individual cowboy/cowgirl.
Competitors are required to wear an Old West costume of some sort. Clothing may be historically accurate for the mid- to late 1800s or may just be suggestive of the Old West. Some even dress like a character from a western B-movie, such as Hopalong Cassidy, or a television series like Gunsmoke. Hats are required for both men and women but style and material are flexible so long as they look reasonably western. At the Caballeros, we gladly make allowances for new shooters who are in the process of putting together a costume but please don’t show up in shorts and a baseball cap. Additionally, modern high-impact safety glasses (with or without vision correction) and hearing protection must be worn while any shooting is in progress.
A typical Caballeros CAS match involves 6-8 separate shooting scenarios known as “stages.” Stages are always different, each typically requiring ten pistol rounds (from two pistols) , ten rifle rounds, and two to eight shotgun rounds. Our rifle and pistol targets are steel plates in various sizes and shapes set up at ranges from 5 to 50 yards that ring/clang/ding when hit by a bullet. For shotgun targets we have both spring actuated (automatically reset) and knockdown (manually reset by means of a pull cord) targets.
Stages are shot using a shot timer to time the shooter with each miss adding a 5-second time penalty. The shooter with the fastest time (actual time plus misses/penalties) is ranked as 1st on the stage. This is known as “rank scoring”. The person with the lowest number of accumulated “rank points” is the winner of the match. (It’s sort of like keeping score in golf, the lower your score, the better.) We also like to recognize shooters who shoot a “clean” match, that is no misses on any stage, regardless of time. Some of us are competitive on a national level, some of us just come out to have fun and enjoy the cameraderie.