Cowboy Shooting: the importance of shooting fast

The ability to preserve history is commendable.
Preserving history, making money is doubly commendable.

American saying

The saying at the beginning of this article is nothing more than a joke. But, like any joke, there is a fair amount of truth in it. I think that I will not be mistaken if I say that in terms of the number of historical clubs and associations associated with the history of the country and, which is important in the context of this story Cowboy Shooting importance shooting, with weapons, America is ahead of the rest. And Americans would not be Americans if they had not made a well-established business out of their history, for which they should be given credit

Perhaps someone will object to me that in other countries, including Russia, there are quite a few reenactment clubs, and here I completely agree. But in our country, these clubs are supported by enthusiasts who do everything with their own money and most often go “in the red” Cowboy Shooting importance shooting … The Americans, on the other hand, were able to organize associations that live well on annual membership fees. They attracted numerous sponsors, built an entire industry supplying participants with “props”, that is, they created a full-fledged business on history.Cowboy Shooting importance shooting However, some associations today are international. In other words, the Americans also manage to export their history to other countries.


A small remark should be made here. Today we will not talk about “Historical Reconstruction” with a capital letter, where the smallest details are important: the authenticity of events, characters, costumes, equipment and other things, and weapons are only an element of props, although they sometimes shoot. Our conversation is about a more entertaining direction, where weapons just play a key role. In general, welcome to shooting with a historical bias! ..

One of the most popular and romanticized episodes of American history was the conquest of the Wild West, which is largely the merit of the cinematograph, which created stable types of cowboys, gunfighters, sheriffs and bank robbers Cowboy Shooting importance shooting.

It is with this era that a number of types of shooting are associated, which will be discussed in this article. All of them can be united by one name – “Cowboy Shooting”.

The main thing that unites these species is the requirements for the costumes of the participants, which can be both historically accurate “re-enactment” and are a free interpretation in the spirit of “spaghetti westerns”, plus the specifics of the weapons used – single action models (single action), typical for period 1860-1890. Shooting is done on time – the fastest shooter wins.

CAS – Cowboy Action Shooting – 3-GUN, i.e. Western-style shooting, which requires the use of three types of weapons at once: a rifle, two revolvers and a gun, is considered the most massive variety of cowboy shooting . The main, but not the only association is SASS – Single Action Shooting Society.

Today SASS is an association with over 110,000 members worldwide. Countless cowboy shooting clubs can be found in almost any country where the law does not prohibit the possession of weapons: except for the United States – in almost all European countries, in Australia and even in New Zealand. Almost all countries host national championships. Finally, the annual championships of Europe – “Day of Truth” and the world – “End of Trail” are held. By the way, the World Championship, within the framework of which competitions are held in several disciplines of cowboy shooting at once, gathers more than 10 thousand participants, which at least one type of sports shooting can hardly boast of …

Without what it is difficult to imagine a cowboy? – of course, without a horse. Therefore, the next association CMSA – Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (organizationally part of SASS), develops mounted cowboy shooting. Here the main weapons are revolvers, but rifles and shotguns are also sometimes used. This type of shooting is popular mainly in the USA.

Anyone who has seen at least one western knows that cowboys shoot from the hip and not aim! .. Of course, this is a popular Hollywood cliché. But it is on this specific technique of using a revolver that the next type of cowboy shooting is based – Fast Draw – literally “high-speed snatching”. Here the shooters use only one revolver. Their task is to draw the weapon as quickly as possible at the timer signal, and then hit the target with a shot from the hip. This type of cowboy shooting is the fastest. Several competing associations are “responsible” for the development of this direction, the largest of which are the WFDA – World Fast Draw Association and CFDA – Cowboy Fast Draw Association. Aside from directly drawing a revolver from a holster and shooting from the hip, this type of cowboy shooting is most closely associated with such a characteristic plot element of any western as a duel between two shooters – the main bad and the main good characters. Naturally, shooters shoot at the target, not at each other. However, the fastest one still wins. As the best film on the topic of duels between gunfighters, I can recommend watching The Quick & The Dead (“The Quick and the Dead”) with the beautiful Sharon Stone in the title role Cowboy Shooting importance shooting. 

Frame from the movie The Quick and the Dead
Shot from the movie “The Quick and the Dead”

There are two more varieties of cowboy shooting that are interesting in that they are associated with films of the Western genre – Wild Bunch and Quigley Shooting. But unlike Fast Draw, which exploits the Hollywood myth of hip-shooting that is common to all cowboy films, these two types are associated with specific films – Wild Bunch (“Wild Bunch”) and Quigley Down Under (“Quigley in Australia”) . They are built on their plot and the weapons used by the main characters. By the way, both films are highly recommended for viewing!

Wild Bunch , like  Cowboy Mounted Shooting , is part of SASS. The main difference from traditional cowboy shooting is the use of one Colt 1911 pistol instead of two revolvers. The action in the film takes place at the beginning of the 20th century, and the main characters, members of the Wild Gang, dressed in soldier’s uniform, flaunt with these newly adopted pistols by the American army. Shooting Wild Bunch as CAS is popular all over the world Cowboy Shooting importance shooting.

Quigley Shooting is long-range shooting (350 to 1,000 yards) with single-shot Sharps-type rifles at bison-shaped targets. The birthplace of these competitions is Australia, where the main Quigley Shot championship is held. But in America and Europe there are also admirers of this type of shooting.

And finally, another cowboy discipline, though without shooting, is Gun-spinning – spinning a revolver on your finger and juggling one or a pair of revolvers. This is also one of the myths generated by Hollywood, when the shooter, having hit all the villains with well-aimed shots from the hip, famously twists the revolver on his finger before putting the weapon in a holster. Here the main criterion is the complexity and entertainment of the elements performed by the participant. As a rule, gun spinning competitions are held as part of the Fast Draw championships.

One curious case is connected with these competitions. Howard Darby, a multiple world champion in gun spinning, said that the only injury he received over the many years of practicing various types of shooting was a broken toe on which he dropped a revolver weighing more than a kilogram during gun spinning training. !..


Of all the listed varieties of cowboy shooting, the most “catchy” are Cowboy Action Shooting and  Wild Bunch.Unlike any type of sports shooting – bullet shooting, sporting, sniping – where what is happening is interesting only to participants and rare experts in this discipline, CAS is an exceptionally spectacular type of shooting. Imagine that you are “inside a western”. You are surrounded by dozens and hundreds of residents of the Wild West: cowboys, sheriffs, Mexicans, Indians. All in historical costumes, belted with belts and bandoliers with cartridges. Among men’s vests, wide-brimmed Stetson and bowler hats, dresses, puffy skirts, corsets and flirty ladies’ hats flash. All are armed with real revolvers, rifles and shotguns that you have only seen in movies. Half of the shooters use black powder cartridges, so at times the shooting range is literally buried in clouds of gray smoke Cowboy Shooting importance shooting. And above all this splendor floats the melodic ringing of steel targets and cowboy spurs.

… The first movie about cowboys that I saw in my Soviet childhood was The Magnificent Seven with Yul Brynner in the title role. It was this film that settled in my heart a pipe dream about cowboys. And later, in the mid-90s, when I first saw a cowboy shooting story on TV, I suddenly felt that while remaining 99% unrealizable, this dream took on a new form. Since then, the idea of how to get into cowboy shooting competitions, and ideally organize it in Russia, has not left me.

The starting point that changed everything was an article about fast draw and multiple world champion Howard Darby, published in 2013 in Popular Mechanics magazine. By that time, I had been engaged in practical shooting for more than 10 years, but I did not forget about the cowboy childhood dream. Thanks to social networks, through mutual acquaintances, I met Mike Avetikyan, our former “Soviet” compatriot living in Canada. It suddenly turned out that Mike not only does fast draw, but also shoots in the same club as Howard! These guys told me a lot about this shooting discipline and inspired me to join the World Fast Draw Association. So I became the first Russian gunfighter. But as there is a shoemaker without boots, so I turned out to be a “gunfighter without gun” …

Becoming a member of the association was the easiest. This can be done by anyone by going to the site and paying a “credit card” annual membership fee. Fast draw requires revolvers and a special timer, but neither of these was available in Russia. The issue with the timer was solved simply – it could be ordered in America. But we, and several shooting enthusiasts have already joined me, decided to take a more thorny path, that is, to develop and release a special timer in Russia. We found electronic engineers – and things went well. But with revolvers, everything turned out to be much more complicated. As you know, in our country, citizens do not have the right to own short-barreled weapons, but they are available for rent in shooting ranges. Naturally, there were no exotic cowboy single-action revolvers in any shooting gallery.

What to do?!

Here we found that in England and Japan, where there is a ban on the possession of any firearms, however, fast draw is actively developing. Local shooters use airsoft or noise replicas of cowboy revolvers. The first were immediately available in airsoft gun stores, and noise (signal) cowboy revolvers appeared in our gun stores a little later. In order not to waste time waiting for real revolvers, we followed in the footsteps of Japanese gunfighters – we created the Russian Fast Draw Club and started training with “toy guns”, while simultaneously besieging Moscow arms importers with requests to import at least a pair of real revolvers…

Abroad, the popularity of fast draw is due to the great democracy and accessibility of this type of shooting. Of the requirements for the costume – only a cowboy hat and holster. Of the weapons you need one revolver, the cost of which starts at a modest $400 for an Italian replica. Anyone who shoots will tell you that the main cost part is not weapons and equipment, but ammo. And here fast draw has a huge advantage over any kind of shooting from firearms. Due to the fact that the shot takes place in close proximity to the shooter’s hip, fast draws do not use real lead bullet cartridges Cowboy Shooting importance shooting. The revolver is charged either with wax bullets that fly out of the barrel only due to the energy of the gun primer, which is enough to confidently hit a steel target at a distance of up to 10 meters,

The cost of a primer and a wax bullet is several times less than the price of a full-fledged cartridge, which makes the shot quite cheap, and the cartridge case, which is the most expensive component of the cartridge, has an almost unlimited resource due to the lack of load when fired! It turns out that the cost of a shot in a fast draw is actually close to the cost of firing an air gun.

Another advantage of such shooting is the fact that real cartridges are not used. And since there are no cartridges, then it is not necessary to shoot at the shooting range or at the shooting range – at least a sports hall, at least any open area, will do. I put up plywood shields, which are more than enough to stop a wax bullet – and forward. This way, you can find a place with little or no rent without having to spend money on renting a gallery at a shooting range or shooting range. Unfortunately, things are not so rosy in our country. In the Russian Federation, any manipulation of weapons is possible only in “specially designated places”, so it was possible to reduce rental costs only as long as we followed the “Japanese” path, using airsoft revolvers and training in an airsoft club Cowboy Shooting importance shooting. 

people with guns
From the personal archive of the author

By the time the first real revolvers did arrive in Russia, which happened in 2018, I managed to break all my “toy” revolvers (their trigger was made of a fairly soft alloy), cool down to fast draw shooting and completely switch to shooting Cowboy Action shooting, which has always been my main goal…

Cowboy shooting is a fast-paced and exciting sport that requires you to be able to shoot quickly and accurately. The key to success in this sport is the ability to shoot fast, while maintaining accuracy.

In cowboy shooting, you must be able to quickly and accurately draw your weapon and hit your target in the shortest amount of time possible. This requires you to have a good understanding of how your firearm works, as well as good hand-eye coordination and the ability to react quickly.

Speed is key when it comes to cowboy shooting. You have to be able to draw your weapon and hit your target in a fraction of a second. If you are too slow, you will be unable to hit the target. Additionally, you need to be able to hit your target accurately. If you miss, you will be out of the competition.

Accuracy is also important in cowboy shooting. You must be able to shoot accurately in order to hit your target. Accuracy is also important for safety reasons. If you are inaccurate, you may unintentionally shoot someone or something other than your target.

Finally, it is important to practice regularly. Cowboy shooting is a skill that must be practiced and honed in order to become successful. Regular practice

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