Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cowboy Action Shooting - CAS

After I mentioned that I am working on a new dress for a BBQ that a fellow CAS shooter puts on every year, I realized that I never really explained what that CAS is. Cowboy Action Shooting, which should probably be called Cowboy/Cowgirl because it is the fastest growing shooting sport amount both men & women was started back in the 1980’s. You can read all about the particulars here.

Basically it is a cross between re-enactment & a competitive shooting sport. Participants are required to dress appropriately for the years 1864-1900 & shoot original or reproduction firearms from that period that include 2 pistols, a rifle & shotgun. You don’t have to but most people join the international organization of SASS(Single Action Shooters Society).You pay a yearly due, get a monthly magazine & pick & register your alias. No two people can have the same alias & when you go to a shoot that is the name that you go by. For example my alias is “Lily Orleans Mason” & hubby is “Johnny Bayou”. I took forever to come up with my alias. John’s dad’s family is all from the New Orleans are so that was where his came from. I wanted this great meaning full name so I used my great aunt Lillian’s name. My mom says that I would have really liked her & that we are similar. Then my great great grandmother’s maiden name was Mason. I added the Orleans to go along with John’s, LA connection. Besides I like the whole southern belle idea. I grew up in South Florida which is a far cry from really being in the “south” but I liked the notion anyway.

So when you shoot you have to select the category you shoot in & each has different requirements. I am actually getting pretty good at mine. I shoot Ladies Duelist, which means that I have to shoot my pistols with only one hand. There are not as many women that shoot in this category locally so I usually place first at the local clubs, often because I am either the only one shooting it or one of two. Shhh don’t tell, hubby says I should tell that I was the only one shooting it. It sounds so nice that I came in first, even if it was out of a group of one!

So now on to the part that really attracted me to the sport. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the shooting part, but I am really passionate about the costuming part. I am really like for my costumes to be period correct, meaning that I want them to look like some thing that a lady from the mid to late 1800’s would have really worn. That means no zippers or Velcro. I have a pretty good collection of books on dress & jewelry from the era. I have also gotten a couple original fashion magazines from the time off Ebay. It is amazing to hold a magazine that someone from over 120 years ago actually used to design her own dress. Pretty cool huh? There are a lot of people that are not that into the costuming & that is fine too. That is one of the great things about the sport is that there is a little bit of something for everyone. Most of my costumes are appropriate for the years from 1870-1900. For shooting I mostly wear a split riding skirt outfit. In the late 1890’s women on the western frontier started wearing these skirts that were really like our modern gaucho pants with a front panel that buttoned on & made them look like a skirt. Up till this point most ladies rode sidesaddle that can be very dangerous. It was absolutely scandalous for women to wear pants & ride astride. This was a compromise, but still a little daring, but much safer. I love the embellishment possibilities that I have with the split skirt out fit. I have at least 4-5 more ideas that I would like to make from this pattern.

I do have a few dresses as well but that adds a little bit more difficulty when shooting. I have to make sure that I don’t trip over my hems. Then because I am so into making my costumes PC (period correct) I wear several petticoats & that can get heavy. It would have been not unheard of back in the 1800’s for a lady to have on a chemise, bloomers/drawers, corset & from 5-7 petticoats. Everyday! Then depending on the period, also a hoop petticoat or a bustle. I have several designs for dresses that I would also like to make, but at our local shoots there isn’t an opportunity to wear them. At the state & regional shoots there is always a banquet to wear your fancy dresses to, but this year we weren’t able to go to any of those. So when one of the guys that we shoot with sent us an invitation to the BBQ that he has every year I decided that I “needed” a new dress. Charlie Ringo, who has the BBQ dresses up cowboy but not everyone that is invited is a CAS shooter but most of the ones that are dress up. So for me it’s a good chance to wear a great dress that I can’t wear to local shoots.

So I hope that explains a little what I am talking about when I talk about SASS, CAS or costuming. Some people are involved in Civil War, Renaissance Wars, Renn Faires, Victorian Teas, etc, this is a little like those only there is the competition of shooting thrown in, which some people take more seriously than others. The thing that we really enjoy about being involved in CAS is the people. When we when to our first shoot in Indian Town, Fl only as spectators in our sneakers, T-shirt & shorts we were overwhelmed by how friendly everyone was. Then after the match we had people handing us $1000’s of dollars of their own guns to try. If you have never been to another shooting sport you wouldn’t know but this never happens. People at most, but not all, shooting sports are very serious & not very friendly. This was unbelievable to be greeted like that. Just incase you are interested I would completely recommend checking out the pictures at The Carolina Belles & Truly Victorian sites. There are some gorgeous examples of costuming on both. Also if you ever get a chance to check out a shoot I say go. It’s not for everyone but if only to see a bunch of adults dressed up like it’s 1800 something, it’s a hoot. I would also add make sure that you take eye & ear protection because the most important rule for a CAS shoot is saftly. This is not a irresponsible gun toting hillbilly sport we all take safety very very seriously & it is priority number one with everyone. Priority number two? Having fun!


beki said...

Wow, that's really interesting! I would so love to dress up like that. I used to love dressing up in my simple antebellum dresses when I was a tour guide back in high school, but that was no where near authentic. I wore cut offs and nikes under my hoop skirt!

Angela said...

HOly moly! That's sound really neat. I'd love wearing those costumes. It sounds like one awesome hobby! You must post some more photos of this stuff for nosey people like me to see. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hey chicky!! I didn't know you shot Lady Duelist!! So do I!! How totally cool!! Now we have one more thing in common!!