A quick history of the Western Shooters of South Africa

In 2004 our Chairman Brian Hoare wrote an article for the biggest South African firearms publication MAN Magnum magazine about Cowboy Action Shooting, asking for like minded or interested people to contact him. A few months later the first meeting and shoot happened at the CPPC range in Cape Town. Initial turn-out was encouraging and everyone quickly realized that Cowboy Action Shooting is a fun thing to do for the whole family as wives and even at times sons or daughter's participation proved. The array of firearms was quite a sight since we had to make do with what we owned at the time. Most used cap & ball revolvers since they are license free under the current firearms legislation. People who didn't own a rifle or shotgun could borrow one from another shooter - because that's just the cowboy way.

It turned out that two of the earliest members were Graeme Smith and Robert Nothhaft, both firearms collectors with an interest in Wild West period firearms. In an attempt to mutually support each others interests, we affiliated our group to the Cape Southern Africa Arms and Ammunitions Collectors Association. Having collectors on board did introduce more firearms into the game and thus the desire for cartridge revolvers to replace the front loaders was stimulated amongst all our shootists. While revolvers using loose powder and ball exude romanticism and transport one back into the times of the Civil War and before, one tends to spend all the time between shooting just with loading while the "cartridge cowboys" find time to chat. Never mind the improved reliability of fixed ammunition.

At this time our Chairman also affiliated our club as the Western Shooters of South Africa (WSSA) to the Single Action Shooting Society in the USA. SASS is the world governing body and trademark holder of Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS). Our club showed certain growth over time but it became quite clear that we would need to move towards getting accreditation as a sports shooting association to grow. This would enable us to declare our members who participate regularly with dedicated sports shooter status. Only with this status would one be able to attain the necessary firearms licenses to have a competitive set of guns for CAS. And only this status would protect the members who would want to keep shooting cap & ball revolvers once these might be licensable items yet again as laws change.

So it was decided to discontinue the affiliation with Cape SAAACA and rather submit an application to the Central Firearms Register of the South African Police Service for said accreditation as a sports shooting association. Thanks to the help of many members but mainly to the sterling work and determination of our Secretary Damian Enslin we were granted accreditation in early July 2010. This has not just led to an immediate growth in our membership numbers but also to the affiliation of the Pioneer Creek Rangers from Pretoria to WSSA. This sudden growth led us to review our structures, rename our club to Western Territory Rangers and to re-position WSSA as the South African governing body for Cowboy Action Shooting with various clubs of the same interest affiliated to it. The goal and motivation for the future is to establish and grow the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting in South Africa, to find like minded people and clubs in all provinces of our country and to eventually hold provincial and national matches as well as invite international competitors and field a national delegation to visit the World Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting, the End of Trail in New Mexico, USA.