Once in a while, especially in a bigger match, you may come across a stage where you have to shoot your pistols and do a one shot reload. Depending on if you have practiced this, this will either be a disaster on the clock, or just something else that you need to do on a stage. When you see shooters doing this on a stage, it is not hard to tell apart those that practice the skill, and those that are in a panic.
With practice, this is not a hard skill to master. Continue to practice this technique until it becomes second nature, and then those types of stages will not scare you any more. The following video will show you the skills and how to master them. This can even be practiced in your home without ammo. We are trying to create muscle memory.
Many shooters assume that crossdraw holsters are less safe, but in a skilled shooter, they can be just as safe as a standard strong side holster. You may have heard of something called the “crossdraw dance.” While this is not a holster setup that I would recommend for a new shooter, once you have been shooting for a while, you may want to try the setup to mix up your game.
Bear in mind that you need to be extra mindful of the 170 rule when drawing the crossdraw pistol in order to ensure that you are always pointed downrange with the muzzles. This setup does increase the risk of breaking that safety rule if you are not mindful of where you are. I would recommend practicing these skills a lot before attempting them in a match.
The following video will give you some good tips for how to use this effectively, and how to make sure that you are safe in the process. Once again, this is not a good holster setup for a new shooter.
Most of the time, we will shoot our pistols from the holster, but occasionally you may see a stage where they mix it up and have you stage the pistols on a rest and then holster them after shooting. This is not something that many of us are familiar with, so when you are having a practice session, it might be a good idea to practice this as well. We are trying to create habits and muscle memory, so the more things we can learn, the better our match results will be.
The video will give you some good practice tips for this scenario, and may help you learn the keys to making this skill give you the edge in a stage using this starting position.
As many of us know, pistols are often where most shooters have misses and lose or win a stage. It takes a lot of practice to be successful and gain the skills necessary to effectively shoot single action revolvers under time in a stage. Spend a lot of time drawing and testing your grip. This is often where you can gain or lose a lot of time. Bear in mind that every miss that you avoid will save you five seconds on a stage.
One of the things that is very hard to remember when on the clock is that you are far better off taking an extra two seconds to line up your shot than it is to rush a shot and miss the target. Keep practicing the skills until they become second nature.
The following video will help you to learn the basic pistol gun handling skills you will need to master this part of the sport.
One of the habits that we all need to break is using our waist to move us across a bank of targets. Instinct tends to make us want to turn at the waist, but this will give us inconsistent results as this causes our grip to change on our guns. This will change your sight picture, and will give you inconsistent results.
With a proper stance, center yourself on the targets and pivot at the knees. This will make you faster and will improve your ability to get on targets and hit the targets consistently. This also keeps your rifle and shotgun from walking off your shoulder as you move through the target array. Like all skills we are discussing, this takes practice as you develop good habits and break the ones that are instinct.
This following video will demonstrate the concepts we are referring to.
One of the starting positions that seems to confuse some newer shooters is the concept of “cowboy port arms.” This video is a good overview of the starting position, as well as some techniques for transitioning that starting position into an effective way to attack the rifle targets on the stage.
One thing to keep in mind is that although this video shows the proper way to start at this position, you may find a club or two with lower berms that will vary this starting position with a lower muzzle.
I hope this video clears up any confusion that may be out there over what constitutes this starting position.
A lot of times, we go to the range to practice and blow through a couple of hundred rounds, thinking we had a good practice session. Maybe we did, and maybe we didn’t. You can have just as effective (or maybe more effective) of a practice session with a single box of ammunition. Once again, we want to practice technique, so we create the good habits in a match that will allow us to continue to improve.
Practice is all about learning better techniques for transitions, loading, and making the skills second nature. We are not shooting bulls-eye targets at 200 yards. Most of us can easily line up and hit the targets in a typical match, so we need to eliminate the wasted times and efforts that hurt our scores.
This is an excellent video with some good training tips. Follow these techniques and you can have effective training sessions without breaking the bank on your ammo budget.
Quite a few shooters, especially those that are new to the sport, will choose to begin with a side by side coach gun. These are very well made guns that rarely have issues, but they do take practice to become skilled at using them at match speed. Some people will say that a 97 will always beat a coach gun, but I have seem some incredible speeds attained by coach guns in matches. The key is to practice regularly and learn all that you can about the shotgun.
Be sure to spend some range time outside of matches to practice these skills and pay attention to what you are doing. Most of us shooting them have had stages where we were all thumbs. That is a message that we need to practice and pay attention to our actions, even if we have to slow down a little bit. What is better? To take an extra second to perform the skill properly, or be forced to go back to your belt for extra shells because you rushed and dropped the shells?
A few years back, Deuce Stevens, one of the top coach gun shooters in the sport, put together a video showing some good techniques to follow. I hope this helps with your practice sessions.
Many of you who have been around cowboy action shooting for some amount of time are familiar with Jim “Long Hunter” Finch. He is a former World Champion who runs an outstanding gunsmith shop in Texas. Over the years, he has taught a large number of people the basics about this sport, and has helped them to reach their potential. For a great introduction to the sport, check out this video, and you will get a good idea of what this sport is all about.
We hope this gives you the incentive to join us, or at least to come out and see what we are about.
Although you can have fun no matter how fast or slow you run your guns during a match, some people have remarked to me from other sports that we are slow shooters because all of our guns are single action. However, this is not the case, and many of the top shooters in the sport are capable of outrunning modern guns when they are on a stage. Going fast is not a requirement, but slow is not the name of this game.
If you thought that our guns are slow, sit back and check out this video.