Cowboy Mounted Shooting

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Mounted Shooting

Cowboy Mounted Shooting is a competitive equestrian sport regulated by several national organizations such as CMSA,[1] CSA,[2] SASS,[3] MSA,[4] that requires the riding of a horse to negotiate a shooting pattern where targets are engaged with 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.[5] In an article published in the November 2009 issue of Western Shooting Horse Magazine,[6] writer Mark Boardman,[7] details the history and growth of the organization.


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 (named after the 1969 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.[8]


In the early years, mounted shooting competitors were required to wear costumes, clothing of the American west, Classic B-Western Movies, or military cavalry uniforms of any time period or country. Today, all that is required is modern cowboy clothing with chinks or chaps, long-sleeved shirt and a cowboy hat.[8]


Cowboy Mounted Shooting is one of the fastest growing equestrian sports in the nation. The object of the sport is to shoot ten balloon targets while riding through a variety of challenging courses using specially loaded blank cartridges fired from Old West-style single-action revolvers. It’s a high-speed, timed spectator sport in which the competitor who rides the fastest with the least amount of missed targets wins. 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.[9]

Mounted Shooting requires skill in both horsemanship and shooting that is measured in the form of competitive events.[1][3][4]

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. Penalties include missed targets, knocked over barrels and missed course direction.


All events, whether for old-west living history, or shooting competitions, etc., are led 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 different levels. Classes are as followed Senior Mens, Mens, Senior Ladies and 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 Mens, Ladies or Senior Mens, Senior Ladies 55 plus Mens, Ladies or Senior Mens, Senior 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[edit]

Mounted shooting uses black powder theatrical blanks with no bullet.[10] Companies such as Buffalo Blanks,[11] Circle E Blanks, Lonesome Pine, and Whitehouse Blanks, manufacture certified ammunition for competition. 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 target out to approximately twenty feet.[8]

Media Coverage[edit]

Western Shooting Horse Magazine [6] is a national newsstand publication devoted entirely to the sport and covers the organizations, people, horses, competition, training, guns and equipment. The magazine is located in Cave Creek, Arizona, and is published seven-times a year.

Mounted shooting events have been featured on ESPN, TNN, Fox Sports and the Outdoor Life Network.[12]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]