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Cowboy Mounted Shooting

Cowboy Mounted Shooting is a competitive equestrian sport regulated by several national organizations such as CMSA[1], SASS[2], MSA[3], etc that requires the riding of a horse to negotiate a shooting pattern where targets are engaged with theatrical-stage-blank ammunition that is certified to break a target balloon within twenty feet and not beyond twenty feet. (No bullets are used.)



In the spirit of the soldier and cowboy, a group called the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association was created in the 1990s so that horse people and cowboy action shooters may enjoy the competitive nature of shooting sports while riding horseback.[4]


M.S. requires competitors to use single action revolvers, lever action rifles chambered in pistol calibers, and side-by-side double barrel shotguns. Single Action Semiautomatic firearms, also known as self-cocking firearms, are also allowed in special military cavalry and Wild Bunch events (So named after the 19-teens western movie of the same name that used more modern firearms). In general firearms, and their modern manufactured replicas, used in the sport are of the pre-1900 American West and Military eras.


Competitors are encouraged to wear costumes or clothing of the American west or Classic B-Western Movies or military cavalry uniforms of any time period or country.


Mounted Shooting requires skill in both horsemanship and shooting that is measured in the form of competitive events.[1][5][6]

The typical event requires two single action revolvers loaded with five blank-cartridges. Ten targets are arranged in a horseback riding arena. When the competitor is given a go-signal, indicating the arena is clear of people and hazards, the rider guides his horse across a timer-line and engages the ten targets. When all ten targets are engaged, the rider returns across the timer line and his score is determined and recorded. The raw time of the rider is computed and penalties are added for missed targets or failure to follow the specified course or procedure or knocking over barrels or target stands.

Mounted Shooting also includes events such as Mounted Rifle, Mounted Shotgun, Extreme Cowboy, Team, and Cart Shooting.


Shooters enter the arena one at a time. Total Score Times are determined by taking the Raw Time for the stage (or course) plus penalties and/or bonuses.


All events, whether for old-west living history, or shooting competitions, etc, are lead under the direction of a certified mounted range officer. Mounted Range Officers must take classes and be knowledgeable of firearm safety, event organization, as well as good horsemanship. The direction of a mounted range officer helps to ensure the safety of the competitor, spectators, and volunteers at all events.


For the interest of fair play and to level the field between riders and shooters of varying skill levels, mounted shooting has classes (classifications) and levels. There are Open and Ladies. (Women may compete in Open or Ladies). The classes are further divided by age with their own rules for safety applied. These classes are: 11 and under (may choose to shoot if qualified), 12 to 16 Junior boy or girl, 16 plus Open or Ladies, 55 plus Senior Open or Ladies

A new rider begins at Level 1 and advances up to Level 6 by accumulating winning placements. Like rodeo, Dressage, and many other equine sports as well as car sports, Mounted Shooters are automatically moved into levels of higher and greater competition to maintain equitable and fair events against people of similar proven skills.

In addition to Classes there are combined divisions for greater competition and payout of jackpots, etc. Different governing bodies combine classes to form these divisions.

CMSA Divisions: Limited (Levels 1 and 2), Express (Levels 3 and 4), and Master (Levels 5 and 6). Placement is determined by Level as shown.

MSA lists only: Non-Professional, Semi-Professional, and Professional. A competitors placement in these divisions are based on the Class level as determined by SASS or CMSA. (See the CMSA example given above).

Blank Ammunition and Targets

No bullets are used in the sport. This raises the questions of how targets are struck and includes interest in the safety of the sport. Firearms in general expel a lead bullet from the muzzle of a firearm under pressure from the expanding gasses in the cartridge located in the chamber or cylinder. Mounted shooting uses black powder theatrical blanks with no bullet. These blanks were originally used in movie production and on the theatrical stage so that flame and smoke can be seen from the muzzle of the firearm. This burning powder will break a balloon out to approximately twenty feet.

See also

  • Historical reenactment
  • American Old West
  • Cowboy Action Shooting
  • Wild West Shows
  • Cavalry
  • Western wear
  • Handgun effectiveness.


External links


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