Pawnee Station Holds Monthly Cowboy Action Shooting Match | TheFencePost.com

Pawnee Station Holds Monthly Cowboy Action Shooting Match

Story & Photos by Tony Bruguiere | Fort Collins, Colo.

Remember how much fun it was to dress up and play "cowboy" when you were a kid? You had your 10 gallon hat, holster, and cap pistol and you made the neighborhood safe by taking on Black Bart and his gang. Well, those days are not gone — except that the game is all grown up and now a family event, with real guns instead of cap pistols.

The game of your youth has grown into the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) or Cowboy Action Shooting. Cowboy Action Shooting was started in California in 1981 by Harper Creigh, better known as Judge Roy Bean, SASS No. 1. After watching a couple of old westerns on TV on a rainy Saturday afternoon, he had a brain storm to hold a shooting match using western guns and wearing western clothing.

From that rather modest beginning, SAAS is now the worldwide governing organization of Cowboy Action Shooting. It has grown to over 97,000 members in 700 Cowboy Action Clubs located in 50 states and 18 foreign countries. Cowboy Action Shooting is the fastest growing outdoor shooting sport in the country. Cowboy Action Shooting is not only a sport that tests the shooters accuracy, but it also brings back the days of the Old West in a celebration of the cowboy lifestyle.

With the emphasis in Cowboy Action Shooting on western guns and history of the 1800s, it is not surprising that Colorado is well represented with 20 clubs and Wyoming has 10. One of Colorado clubs on the Front Range is the Pawnee Station club which holds its monthly matches on the third Saturday at Great Guns Shooting in Nunn, Colo.

Dave Bishop, alias Red River Wrangler is the Territorial Governor of the Pawnee Station club. His alias of Red River Wrangler is registered by SASS and unique to him. Every SASS member is required to select a shooting alias representative of the Old West. SASS has the final authority on whether a shooters chosen alias is unique and can be used.

"Pawnee Station is probably one of the oldest clubs in Colorado, definitely one of the oldest on the Front Range. I've been involved since 2003. We have a long history, we have a lot of shooters that come out and play," said Bishop. "We encourage folks that are interested in this sport to at least come out and see what it is all about. See the dress and see everybody having fun. This is probably the most enjoyable shooting sport. It's a group activity, everybody getting into it and everybody having fun. It's meant to be enjoyable. We all like to pretend we are 10-years-old and playing cowboy."

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The guns used in Cowboy Action Shooting are replicas of guns used in the Old West during the 1800s. A shooter needs two single action pistols, a lever action rifle in the pistol caliber, and a shotgun, either a model 97 Winchester with exposed hammer, or a side-by-side shotgun. There are companies like Uberti and Cimarron that specialize in replica guns. The Vaquero models from Ruger are very popular.

One of the unique aspects of Cowboy Action Shooting is the costuming. Period dress and accessories from the 1800s are required, but Bishop was quick to point out that a shooters character was developed over time. To start out, "long-sleeved shirts for men, blue jeans are fine, cowboy boots, cowboy hat and that's pretty much it," said Bishop.

Some people enjoy the costuming part better than the shooting. Jinglebob Gerri, who has a SASS number below 3,000 out of the 97,000 current members, enjoys making all of her own dresses and hats. And if you think that it would be hard to locate period clothing, a quick Google search for Cowboy Action Shooting clothing returned 2.4 million results.

Everything about Cowboy Action Shooting is designed to be fun, especially the shooting. Hash Knife Jake said, "In a lot of other shooting disciplines, if you don't hit 99 percent, you are kind of frowned upon and people kind of snub you. But in this one everybody is welcome. It doesn't matter how good or how bad you are everybody is welcome and that really makes this sport."

Hash Knife Jake went on to recommend the sport for a new shooter because, "You're not intimidated. There's not a lot of intimidation. Once you get over the intimidation of just the guns themselves, you're in good shape for shooting this sport."

Shooter Juan added, "Nobody wins, anything. Bragging rights and that's it. They try and make it more for fun instead of being so competitive that it takes the fun out of it. There's no money involved, even in the big shoots, like nationals. It's bragging rights only, they may get a buckle."

Most of the people at Pawnee Shooting Club use only their alias and some have been members for years and no one knows their real names. There is one Pawnee Station member that everyone knows, and that is Michael Bane or Wolf Bane. If you have spent any time at all on the Outdoor Channel, you have seen Michael Bane. He is the star of the hit series "Shooting Gallery" which is now in its 13th year.

"These are the guns that won the West. They are still marvelous, marvelous guns to shoot and one of the reason that I'm out here is that I love to shoot the guns. Another reason people love this sport is, and I guess this may be an odd word to use with a firearm, but the guns themselves are not threatening. They are the historic guns of the Old West. Besides, every so often you just get tired of plastic you go directly to steel and walnut," said Bane.

Michael Bane went on to say that another reason the sport is so appealing "is that the sport of cowboy action shooting is set so that anybody can hit those targets. Now if you want to hit all those targets in 20 seconds, things have to happen very specifically. But if you come out with a spouse or with a teenager and they shoot, then they are going to be able to hit those targets."

Anyone that you ask why they participate in Cowboy Action Shooting, somewhere in their response they will talk about how much fun it is. If you want to join in the fun, Red River Wrangler says, "We invite and encourage folks to come out and enjoy the sport. Pretty much, if you've got a gun close to a cowboy gun and you're interested in finding out what it is all about, come on out and bring it with you and we can get you going. You do not have to be a member of SASS, or even a member of this club, Pawnee Station, to shoot out here. All you have to do is have the desire, and come out on the third Saturday and we will get you started." ❖