Like all other Rodeo events and activities, Cowboy Mounted Shooting has its roots embedded in old cow herding action in western US and northern Mexico and the sort of life activities that went with it. It looks back nostalgically at cowboy life thereby continuing the romanticisation of what was almost certainly a very tough life indeed. In modern times it has become a sport that tests the competitors’ horsemanship and shooting skills.
As a sport proper, it is fairly young in comparison to other sports. Thus the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (CMSA) was created in the mid 1990’s.
The events of this fast-growing equestrian sport take place naturally in a horse-riding arena. Dress codes apply though less stringently now than in the past. Thus in earlier days all competitors were required to dress in close imitation of cowboys of old times almost exactly as seen in old Western movies. Nowadays, this has relaxed a bit but a semblance of cowboy attire is still prevalent.
At a typical event, all competitors are expected to shoot ten (10) targets per course with two pistols each loaded with five (5) blanks. The horses they ride can be any breed they choose and the targets are elevated balloons of various colors usually one light and one dark in tone. Each competitor shoots five balloons with a single action, 45 caliber pistol, before changing pistols to shoot the next set of five balloons with his second pistol which is also loaded with five (5) blanks. The pistols are like ones used by cowboys in late 1800’s and early 1900’s cowboy films.
The ammunition used throughout the competitions is blanks for safety. When all competitors have done their part & all balloons have been shot at, winning points and penalties are calculated and a champion is declared. Winning points are based on speed, accuracy as well as following the course correctly while penalties include missed targets, knocked over barrels and missed course direction.
Depending on their scored, competitors are automatically promoted to higher levels so as to compete always with people of equal skills and to keep the sport fair for new-comers. We attended the Western US Championship event that was held on July 26-29, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada that was had 268 competitors. The Eastern US Championship is scheduled on September 6-9, 2017 and the World Championship on October 18-21, 2017. The results of those events are posted on cmsaevents.com. For those enamored of the combination of equestrian and shooting skills, these events promise great fun.
During the 2017 CMSA Western US Championship in Las Vegas, NV, I had the opportunity to interview Mr Mark Marley, CFO of CMSA on July 28, 2017 & I asked him the following questions:
Q : Do you recall the youngest winner of past CMSA Championships?
A : Kody Clark (2016 CMSA World Champion). He started his involvement in the sport early in life. I think he was 22 years old last year.
Q : With the steadily increasing interest in Cowboy Mounted Shooting as a sport, are there any future plans for going internationally outside the US and Canada?
A : There are interested clubs in Europe, in Germany, Belgium and France. However, the gun laws in different countries might slow the process. Currently we do not have scheduled events in Europe.
Q : Are there regulations specifying the allowed guns or ammunition in CMSA Championship events?
A : All competitors must use two single-action revolvers of .45 caliber and CMSA certified blanks which contain black powder but no projectiles of course. Each revolver is loaded with five blanks. On CMSA web-site, we list the certified blanks that are allowed in the championship and in all our competitions.
For the benefit of our readers, it is pertinent to note that, with a single-action revolver, the user pulls the hammer back with his free thumb. Only the trigger pull releases the hammer. For the history of revolvers going back to 1855, please see the reference below. In Mounted Shooting competitions, the rider controls the horse with one hand and uses the other hand for shooting. This last includes changing revolvers since two revolvers have to be used for the ten target targets (balloons).
Q : what procedure does a range master goes through to become a Certified Range Master?
A : CMSA Certified Range Masters are responsible for making sure that our events are conducted under the rules and guidelines set forth in the Current CMSA Rulebook. Therefore, any current CMSA competition cardholder, 18 years or older and in good standing, can apply to become a CMSA Certified Range Master and must pass the CMSA Range Master Test for such certification.
Q : Are there any training opportunities for future Cowboy Mounted Shooters?
A : Newcomers to mounted shooting should get in touch with their local Cowboy Mounted Shooting clubs and seek training opportunities with an experienced member. Such training would shorten the training period and enhance their skills.
Q : As a pioneer of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting sport, does CMSA get requests for help in Western movie industry from Hollywood?
A : I think Hollywood has excellent teams of Mounted Shooters stunt artists. However, two CMSA members appeared on History Channel “Top Shot” television show: Denny Chapman and Eric Anderson.
At the end of our interview, I thanked Mr Marley for his time and the valuable information that he provided to our readers.
We included several links for our readers to browse for further information: