CategoriesRule of the Week

Rule of the Week: Shooting on the move

Being that it’s currently 12° outside, I’ve spent a good portion of my day watching NCAA basketball. Doing so brought to mind this week’s Rule of the Week as it’s basketball’s traveling rule which defines shooting on the move in SASS.

As we all know, shooting on the move is forbidden in SASS and should it occur, is punished by a Stage Disqualification penalty. Beyond actual shooting, movement while a live round is under the hammer of any firearm is also forbidden, carrying the same penalty. But what exactly denotes movement you ask? Basketball’s traveling rule (with a caveat).

Page 11 of the Shooter’s Handbook states

Movement is defined by the basketball “traveling” rule. Whenever a shooter has a loaded round under the hammer of a firearm in hand, at least one foot must remain in place on the ground.

Shooter’s Handbook v25.1, page 11

Simple enough. Now I’ll be the nitpicker here and point out this is only a portion of the basketball traveling rule, applying only to a player whose position is already set on the court. But I digress.

The real caveat to how basketball’s traveling rule is applied is contained in that same section of the handbook:

Note: Shuffling the feet to maintain balance or adjust the shooting stance is allowed as long as the shooter does not actually change location.

Shooter’s Handbook v25.1, page 11

So if you’ve come to a stop in order to shoot, but perhaps your feet have landed on an uneven portion of the terrain, or slipped on loose gravel and became too far apart to be a comfortable shooting stance, you’re allowed to “shuffle” both feet into a safe and comfortable position while firing, provided you don’t fundamentally change the location from which you’re shooting.

CategoriesRule of the Week

Rule of the Week: Holsters

Continuing on last week’s clothing theme, today I’m going to discuss holsters in the hopes of helping new shooters avoid confusion with this all-important part of SASS equipment.

Revolver holsters seem a simple idea–their primary purpose being to safely carry a revolver throughout a normal range of motion–but there are a few things to watch out for when selecting your holsters:

  • Main match holsters must be located one each on either side of the belly button and separated by at least two fists.
  • Holsters may not depart from the vertical by more than 30° when worn. (See illustration below directly from the RO1 Handbook)Examples of legal and non-legal holsters
  • Particularly when using a crossdraw or shoulder holster, attention is required by the shooter to avoid the revolver leaving the holster and subsequently breaking the 170° rule. (Further clarification below).
  • If you’re shooting in one of the costume categories, there are some additional stipulations on design:
    • Classic Cowboy/Cowgirl: Part of the grip of the revolver, when holstered, must be above the belt on which the holster hangs.
    • B-Western/Lady B-Western: Buscadero or drop holster rigs are required. All revolvers must be carried below the top of the gun belt. Additionally, in keeping with the B-Western theme, all holsters must be embellished.

Holsters and the 170° Rule

As with all firearms, the 170° rule applies to revolvers. However, there is a specific exception for revolvers during the holstering/unholstering process. I will quote directly from the Shooter’s Handbook v25.1, page 3:

When drawing a revolver, the muzzle may be oriented into the straight down (180°) as it clears leather; but must then go immediately into the downrange 170° (and vice versa on the return). These restrictions against breaking the downrange 180° angle apply to all holsters and methods of draw/re-holster. This allowance applies to all types/styles of holsters, from canted double strong side to cross draw, to shoulder/Huckleberry rigs.

Shooter’s Handbook, version 25.1

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading and don’t forget to sign up for our match announcement list if you haven’t already, and take a look at the rest of our Bulletin Board for all our other posts.

CategoriesRule of the Week

Rule of the Week: Costuming (i.e. Clothing) Requirements

It seems there’s some confusion and concern from new shooters about what’s required as far as costuming in SASS. I know this was something that I wasn’t clear on coming in, even after reading through the Shooter’s Handbook. The Shooter’s Handbook uses some version of the word “costume” so many times in its first few pages that it’s easy for newcomers to think that every single participant must wear chaps, a ten-gallon hat, and spurs in order to compete. But unless you’re planning to shoot in one of the aptly named Costume Categories, things are actually far simpler than they may seem. This week’s post is primarily addressed towards would-be shooters trying to figure out how to get into the game.

While costuming certainly plays a significant role in the Costume Categories, the majority of categories in SASS have fairly loose clothing requirements. While the Shooter’s Handbook states “all clothing must be typical of the late 19th century, a B-Western movie, or Western television series“, in practice at SASS matches, this leaves a good amount of room for interpretation.

In Open, Age Based, and Shooting Style categories, an outfit as simple as a long-sleeve button-up or Henley shirt, a pair of jeans, and boots will suffice. Not even a hat is required. (Note: combat boots and ball caps are expressly outlawed. See the bottom of this post for a list of outlawed clothing directly from page four of the Shooter’s Handbook).

When you step into the Costume Categories…well, there’s costuming involved. Both B-Western and Classic Cowboy categories have their own requirements and prohibitions on clothing, and I’ll leave the full definitions to the Shooter’s Handbook beginning on page seven.

Please note, gun leather and shotgun belts are governed under their own set of rules according to category, and are outside the scope of this post.

So there it is. It still takes a bit of clarification if you’re on the outside looking in, but it’s actually not as difficult to wade through as one might think. Of course, if you have any questions–regarding clothing or any other SASS subject–feel free to e-mail or call one of our officers or give us a shout on Facebook on the Indian Territory SASS page.

CategoriesRule of the Week

Rule of the Week: Unsafe firearm handling and the 170° rule.

I have noticed while shooting stages such as the Mine at the Oklahoma Territorial Marshals, the Fort at Indian Territory SASS, and the Ghetto Mine at Lincoln County Cowboys, that it is quite common for shooters to return back uprange once having finished the stage in such a way as to no longer have the barrels of their long gun(s) pointed in alignment with the 170° rule.

This confused me. As written in the Shooter’s Handbook the 170° rule is always to be observed at any particular time while on the range. But again, I’ve observed seasoned cowboys and cowgirls with years of Range Officer experience under their belts return uprange on one of these stages with their barrels pointed in a safe direction, but not within the 170°. So I did what I thought would be the most sensible thing in this situation: I called Roy’s Creek Dan.

Among other skills and accomplishments, Roy’s Creek Dan is an excellent cowboy gunsmith, a SASS End of Trail World Champion, and a Range Officer Instructor. From years of SASS experience and communication with the Range Officer Committee, Roy’s Creek Dan is virtually a walking SASS Shooter’s Handbook encyclopedia.

As soon as I brought this up with Roy’s Creek Dan, and before I could even finish describing my question, he knew where I was going. And his answer certainly did simplify things. According to Roy’s Creek Dan, the 170° rule only applies from the time the buzzer goes off until the last shot of the stage is fired. At all other times, the applicable rule would be Unsafe Firearm Handling.

Unsafe Firearm Handling is a bit of a catch-all, and is not exactly defined in the Shooter’s Handbook, other than as a reason for a Stage Disqualification Penalty. The spirit of the rule is contained within the Safety & Handling Conventions — All Firearms (page 15 of version 25.1 of the Shooter’s Handbook). With regards to the handling of your firearms other than during the shooting of the stage, this largely means pointing the barrels in a safe direction at all times while carrying them. From the Shooter’s Handbook:

The muzzles of all long guns must be maintained in a safe direction at all time (generally “up” and slightly downrange)

Rather than the 170° rule, it is Unsafe Firearm Handling which covers the shooter returning uprange, and this explains why I’ve never seen anyone penalized for breaking the 170° while doing so. This seems like common sense, but I’m glad to have this clarified for myself and I hope you find value in it as well.

CategoriesRule of the Week

Rule of the Week: Malfunctioning Firearms

As defined in the Shooter’s Handbook, a malfunction is the “failure of a gun or ammunition to function as designed or fire satisfactorily.”

It’s important to point out that in regards to the rules, a firearm is considered as malfunctioning only if the shooter audibly declares it so. That is, if the shooter’s firearm malfunctions, they cannot simply lay the gun down and proceed with the stage. The shooter must declare the firearm as malfunctioning before engaging in the next string of fire. If the shooter fails to declare the firearm as malfunctioning, but grounds the firearm nonetheless, the shooter will then be subject to any penalties resulting from this action such as those for live rounds left in the chamber, magazine, or carrier.

The applicable rule from page 27 of version 25.1 of the Shooter’s Handbook:

Malfunctioning firearms still containing rounds will not warrant penalties so long as the malfunction is declared and the firearm is made safe.

Once the firearm has been declared as malfunctioning and made safe–laid on a horizontal surface, pointing in a safe direction–the shooter may continue the stage. At the conclusion of the final string of fire, the shooter should return to the malfunctioning firearm and make an effort to clear the malfunction while still on the stage before heading to the unloading table. Clearing the malfunction while still on the stage minimizes safety risks and should the firearm discharge while being cleared, will not result in a Match Disqualification as long as it is pointed in a safe direction.

If the firearm cannot be expediently cleared while still on the stage, it can then be taken to the unloading table to be cleared. A shooter may only leave the firing line with an un-cleared, malfunctioning firearm if doing so under the direct supervision of a Match Official. Failure to follow this protocol will result in a Match Disqualification.

CategoriesRule of the Week

Rule of the Week: A Revolver’s Hammer

Another rule I’ve seen surface in quite a few of my recent matches regards the physical state of the hammer on a revolver when it leaves the shooter’s hand.

Page 22 of the Shooter’s Handbook states that “returning a revolver to leather with the hammer not fully down on a spent round or empty chamber” or “[a] cocked revolver leaving the shooter’s hand” are both Stage Disqualification Penalties.

Basically, if the hammer is anything but fully down on an empty chamber or spent round–half-cock is the same as full-cock in regards to this rule–and the revolver leaves your hand, it’s a Stage DQ. This also seems like a good moment to remind everyone that de-cocking any firearm without positive direction/approval to do so from the Chief Range Officer/Timer Operator is also a Stage DQ.

CategoriesRule of the Week

Rule of the Week: Discarding of Long Guns

As I’ve seen this particular rule come to the fore in a few different matches lately, I’ll be highlighting it as my first Rule of the Week post.

From pages 17-18 of version 24.2 of the SASS Shooter’s Handbook (emphasis mine):

Long guns will be emptied and discarded with their barrels pointed safely downrange. This condition may be corrected on the clock, prior to the next round being fired. If the long gun is not discarded empty prior to the next firearm being fired, only the shooter may return to open and/or clear the firearm at the end of the stage under the observation of the CRO/TO. Should an empty casing/hull be ejected or found in the action or chamber, or a live round on the carrier of an open action, a Minor Safety Violation (MSV) will be assessed. However, if the action is opened, and a live/unfired round is ejected, a Stage DQ (SDQ) will be assessed for a long gun with a “live round under a cocked hammer having left the shooter’s hands”. In this case, there is no opportunity to correct this condition before firing the next firearm, as the penalty takes effect upon leaving the shooter’s hands.

–If the long gun is the last firearm used, it must be cleared prior to it leaving the shooters hand(s) at the unloading area.

–This does not apply to firearms shot out of sequence, made safe, and then restaged.

Shooters Handbook Vers 24_2 MASTER (

A recent example: A shooter fires nine shots from their rifle and sets the firearm down, barrels pointing down range, action open, but with a live round on the carrier. In this case, the shooter may return to the rifle before the next round is fired, engage the final target, then proceed with the stage and this would be a No Call. If, however, the shooter proceeded to fire their next gun (or were to place the rifle on the reloading table prior to clearing it if it were their last firearm used), then the shooter would be assessed a Minor Safety Violation.

A quick reference to this rule can also be found on the RO Pocket Card as the first item listed. The RO Pocket Card can be found as Section 8 of the Shooter’s Handbook.