Costuming & Accessories: Clothing, Boots & Hats

If you are new to Cowboy Action Shooting don't worry too much about your outfit. The point is to shoot, make friends, and have a GOOD TIME. Some shooters tend to keep things on a basic level and never really get much into costuming, and that is ok. However, clothing, boots and hats can be one of the most fun things about this sport!

Boots - When shooting weekly matches and spending long hours standing on the range your priority is to find comfortable boots to wear. Packers are comfortable and give good ankle support. Stove Pipe boots look great, but are less comfortable after long hours of wear. The good thing about Packers is that you can find them easily at your local western store. If you want Stove Pipes you will have to order them online.

Hats -
Hats of the Old West were typically made of beaver felt. Top hats were commonly worn by well-to-do town folk. Bowlers and derby's were worn by town folk as well as lawmen, bankers and outlaws, such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Cowboys and ranchers typically wore larger brimmed hats as this was sometimes their only means of shade from the sun. There are many different hats for many different looks, and the choice really is up to you which way you want to go. Being that a lot of cowboy shooting matches are held in hot weather, straw hats are commonly worn in the summertime and are acceptable at shoots.

Clothing -
A great resource for finding cool vintage clothing are your local second hand stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. You'll be amazed at how much you can find there.

SASS provides a directory of links to retailers of clothing, hats and other cool stuff. If you have the time you can easily spend hours shopping through their links.

Costuming & Accessories: Shotgun Belts

When it comes to shotgun belts, again you are going to find yourself with a lot of options. When buying a shotgun belt whether you are shooting a side by side or a 97 as well as how many shells you want to pull can be a deciding factor. Some shooters will opt to put a shotgun shell slide on their holsters instead of wearing a shotgun belt. The down side to this method is shotgun slides typically hold a fewer number of rounds, so if you have "fumble fingers" you may find yourself without enough rounds to finish the stage! Wearing a shotgun slide on your pistol belt also puts your rounds farther from reach than on a shotgun belt.
Two options for shotgun belts are:
1) Belts that hold shotgun shells in pairs
2) Belts with single loops that hold shells individually

Belts that hold shotgun shells in pairs - These belts limit you to only pulling in pairs. If you are shooting a 97, for instance, and you have six shotgun targets, many shooters will pull two sets of three shells, which is very difficult to do with this style belt.

Belts with single loops that hold shells individually - These belts are the most versatile. This configuration will allow you to set up your shotgun shells in any order or pattern that you wish.

One thing to look for in any shotgun belt is to make sure the shells sit high enough to be easily pulled. Ultimately, choosing the "right" shotgun belt is going to come down to personal preference and shooting style.

Costuming & Accessories: Holsters & Leather

 There are so many holsters out there that it may seem overwhelming. The biggest thing to keep in mind is the wear caused by holstering and drawing repeatedly over time. You'll need holsters that are going to stay open and last you a good long while. There are many things to consider when getting a holster rig, such as quality and thickness of leather, muzzle degree cant, if you want two strong side draws or a cross draw... If you are going to shoot gunfighter style you are going to have to have two strong side draws.
When it comes to leather this is an area where you could take a couple of different approaches. You can buy a less expensive rig to start out until you figure out what muzzle cant and other details will work best for you. In the meantime you may end up fighting your rig on the clock. The best approach is to do a lot of research. First, talk to seasoned shooters at your local club and talk to the makers before buying. Second, be willing to spend a little bit more for a better quality rig. When you have a good rig that suits your shooting style you'll be able to draw and re holster smoothly and naturally without any problems. Smoothness is speed in this sport.

Here you will find some of the top leather companies worn by the top shooters:

Ted Blocker Holsters - These holsters retain their shape time and time again and are very durable. On a personal note, if you've ever shot with Coho Kid and Brassy Shell (the owners of Ted Blocker Holsters), they are a lot of fun and are really nice people!

Mernickle Holsters  - Another top choice for cowboy holsters is Mernickle Holsters. They make great products for Cowboy Action Shooting, as well as Cowboy Fast Draw. Check out the Quick Cal Shooting System shotgun belt (model number QCSG1).  It allows you to set up your shells in any order of draw.

Kirkpatrick Holsters  - Kirkpatrick Leather is a third choice for cowboy leather. They offer the Long Hunter Shooting System, designed by champion cowboy shooter Long Hunter.
Gun Cart Inspiration & Design

Before long it will become clear that a gun cart of some form is absolutely necessary for hauling around your guns and equipment. There are a lot of basic designs out there, but many shooters have used the building of their gun cart to really show off some personality and creativity. A gun cart can be both functional and a true work of art!

You can buy a gun cart kit online, find gun cart building plans online, or come up with an original design completely your own. You are limited only by your imagination! Some functionality you should try to incorporate into your design if you build your own:

Storage, lots of storage - In addition to space for your guns there should be drawers, compartments or pockets to hold smaller items - ammo, spent brass, snacks, drinks (possibly a built in cup holder), rags, personal score cards, cigars (if you enjoy a good stogie at the range), car keys, extra hearing protection, etc. With a little ingenuity you'll find it's easy to fit a lot of storage into a small amount of space.

Seating - There is a whole lot of standing around at matches while waiting for your turn to shoot, and standing on dirt and gravel can really be hard on your feet. Building a seat into your gun cart is a really good idea, and the space beneath the seat can always be utilized for additional storage.

Weather protection - Some folks like to add a holder for an umbrella that can be folded out for shade in the hot summer sun. This can double as protection for your guns from the elements on a wet day.

Large wheels - Large wheels with tires will let you push or pull a lot of weight over rough and rocky terrain.

Foldable or collapsible design - for transportation to and from shoots if you drive a compact vehicle.