Photography courtesy Picacho Posse and the Single Action Shooting Society
The sport of cowboy action shooting is alive and well thanks to the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), which is based in Edgewood, New Mexico, but has branches stretched out across the entire globe. Here in Las Cruces, the Picacho Posse is keeping the authentic Old West spirit alive. They follow all three of SASS’s rules about preserving the “spirit of the game” when competing in competitions.
First, all shooters must select an alias “representative of a character or profession from the Old West or the western film genre.” For example, Las Crucen Mark Aguirre, who has been competing for 13 years, goes by Fast Hammer. His grandson, Nicholas, is Little Fast Hammer. Local physician Dr. Bill Baker goes by the name many people around town know him by: Doc Baker. Posse member Craig Tharp is Lefty Too Slim.
Second, all participants are required to wear an appropriate costume. The SASS website notes that, “Many event participants gain more enjoyment from the costuming aspect of our sport than from the shooting competition itself.” Apparel such as modern shooting gloves, designer jeans, ball caps, and all types of athletic shoes or combat boots are strictly forbidden.
And last, but certainly not least, contestants must compete “with firearms typical of those used in the taming of the Old West: single action revolvers, pistol caliber lever action rifles, and old time shotguns.”
Cowboy action shooting competitions consist of staged and timed scenarios, often times based on famous real life incidents or movie scenes “in which the shooters must test their mettle against steel targets.”
The Picacho Posse gathers once a month for a shootout at the Butterfield Range just west of town, but they also travel to compete in SASS sanctioned events, including the “End of Trail” World Championship, held annually in Edgewood.
“This is such a good way to have fun and meet people,” Fast Hammer Mark Aguirre says. “Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve met people from all over the world; people I never would have come in contact with before. Over 600 shooters come to the World Championships in Edgewood. A lot of people from England, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic…I’ve met some interesting people and made some really good friends.”
Hit the Range!
Stryker’s Shooting World
415 S. Valley Dr.
Butterfield Shooting Range
Exit 127 (Corralitos Rd.) on I-10
Other Local Shooting Clubs and Resources:
6210 W. Picacho Ave.
Innovative Defense Strategies
Las Cruces International Defense Pistol Association
Mesilla Valley Shotgun Sports
New Mexico Shooting Sports Association
Picacho Gun Club
Southwest Firearms Academy
575-639-0162 for upcoming classes
Single Action Shooting Society (SASS)