CAS, SASS & WSSA - The Chairman remembers...

To begin at the beginning, back in the early 1980's a group of disenchanted IPSC shooters decided to do an IPSC shoot with single action revolvers. It would appear that many shooters had one of these lying at the back of the safe. For many years just a few people participated from one club in Southern California. Gradually, by word of mouth, a few other clubs got interested and in the mid 1980's Guns and Ammo did a feature story with great pictures of the props. It still grew fairly slowly, but by 2000, the year I joined, there were over 32,000 SASS members. Today the figure approaches 100,000 SASS members. Many of those members are from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand and over the last 10 years the European countries now have a European annual match, with France recently receiving approval as for CAS as a shooting discipline. Now is the time to put South Africa on the map for CAS as well.

Until 5 years ago all the End of Trail shoots had been held in California, then the "Wild Bunch" decided to buy a ranch in New Mexico, just east of Albuquerque. Over the years ranges were built and permanent structures constructed to house the Saloon and administrative offices as well places for the sutlers to show their wares.

I had been an avid IPSC shooter for many years but had become disenchanted over the years by the equipment race. I had also had a hankering for a single action in .45 Colt but no reason to justify it. Fortunately the Custer Sportsman's Club in Custer Washington has a Cowboy Action Shooting section so I naturally had to have a go. The only firearm suitable for CAS that I had was a Winchester model 1897. Since I already knew quite a few of the shooters as there was some overlap from IPSC I was offered the loan of guns I didn't have. I soon had a Ruger .45 in blue and by selling a nice Anschutz air rifle I could afford the Marlin rifle also in .45 Colt. Rugers were available in many configurations but Canadians were at the bottom of the list. I soon switched to the Bisley models as I found that they pointed better for me. My wife, who didn't shoot, came to keep me company and we had great camaraderie with the members of the "Custer Renegades". In 2003, after being retired for a year we decided to return to South Africa and of course brought all my "cowboy" guns along.

In 2004 I submitted an article to Magnum magazine extolling the fun to be had and that I was looking for some like minded people. Sure enough there were some cowboys out there just itching to play and since I was a member of CPPC asked to use the Range. Unfortunately only Sundays were available and this didn't suit some of our members so we switched to The False Bay Gun Club where we enjoyed some encouragement. One of our members had influence with a steel company and agreed to have some steel silhouette targets cut out. Since the sport is based to some extent on speed these were quite big, and scoring is done by taking the raw time and adding 5 seconds for each miss. Now there is a saying in CAS that"there is no target too big or too close that it can't be missed". Over a 4 year period we continued to attract like minded shooters, one of whom was attorney Damian Enslin. The committee had already broached the subject of getting accreditation as a sport shooting organization, but on further investigation it would prove difficult as there were no proper guidelines and the exercise looked daunting. Fortunately for us Damian Enslin stepped into the breach and took on the task. With a combined effort, but largely thanks to the perseverance and legal expertise of Damian we subsequently had our application approved by the Central Firearms Register and are now in the position of granting dedicated sports shooter status to our members who fulfill the requirements.

We strive to grow Cowboy Action Shooting in South Africa and hope to hold provincial and national matches in the foreseeable future. Sending a South African contingent to participate at the End of Trail - the CAS world championship - is a firm goal for the future.