The Virtue Flats Vigilantes are the Cowboy Action Shooting club at Powder River Sportsman's Club Virtue Flats range. Tonight we had a night shoot, the first one. It was also my first shoot in this sport. It is fairly involved shooting and because a certain amount of moving around is involved the safety rules are extensive and rigorously enforced.
Because I don't want to get into the dress up part of the sport, wearing period clothing, and because I shoot single handed I am shooting in the Duelist or Gunfighter category. Now for those who'd enjoy period clothing Classic Cowboy requires it but neither my budget nor my comfort requirements put me in mind of doing that. My weaponry allows me to shoot in any of the classes and was acquired with that in mind. Some clothing is required or prohibited .
(2) 3 1/2 in. SAA Colt by Uberti w/Birdshead Grip .45 Colt
1873 Winchester octagonal barrel lever action by Chaparral .45 Colt
2 3/4 in. 12 Ga side by side double barrel hammered stagecoach Remington shotgun
double holster with 2 sets of 6 cartridge loops and 20 round load tail
all ammunition is low power loads to reduce target damage and chances being struck by bullet splash.
Target sets are varied as is the order of fire and order of weapons. Since I forgot my camera I'll have to give a written description of one of the sets. There were two firing stations 30 feet apart. The shooter approached the far (right) station and lays down unloaded shotgun and holds loaded rifle at port arms, at the timer's signal, cocks and fires at 5 silhouettes at 30 yards one shot left to right and again left to right (10 rounds), lays down rifle action open, picks up shot gun and moves to left station, lays down shotgun. Draw revolver, fire 5 shots at 5 silhouettes at 15 yds, holster, load shotgun, knock down 2 silhouettes (10 yds), carry shotgun to right station, lay down shotgun and draw revolver. Shoot 5 rounds at 3 silhouettes (15yds) any order hitting both at least once, holster, load shotgun and knock down 2 silhouettes (10 yds), time ends with unloaded shotgun. Scoring is by time with 5 seconds added for each miss and a "P" for any procedural errors. I managed to finish last, I wasn't doing too badly until the last stage where I lost the front sight of the revolver when my wind dried contacts blurred out completely and I missed 5 of 10 shots. I didn't mind whatever place I finished in, I was there to have fun and learn how to actually do this.
This isn't a rich man's sport but it also isn't cheap, purchased new the firearms will run around $2000 and factory loaded ammunition for .45 Colt cowboy action is about $25 for 50 rounds and this shoot involved over 120 rounds plus a box of shotgun shells. Dress will cost as will some accessories like a cart for holding long guns and ammo. Reloading is the most reasonable approach to ammo costs which will drop the 50rd cost to around $5 and used firearms are available. Now while I find this to be a lot of fun, I'd suggest anybody with interest attend a shoot and if possible borrow some equipment.
SASS is the organizational body for this shooting sport. Much more information than I've been able to provide is located there. This sport is strong on procedure and a large part of the competition involves an ability to stay focused while moving about and changing shooting order and firearms.