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Mounted Shooting - how to start with your horse

Updated on April 10, 2015

Already Shooting at our Clinic

Mounted and already shooting.
Mounted and already shooting.

Have you ever shot a pistol? If you answered no, that is okay. Even if you have never been around firearms before, the sport of cowboy mounted shooting is still very plausible for you. I had heard of the sport but did not give it any mind. Then I was invited to a local meeting after I moved. I figured I should go just to get to know some horse folks in the area. Now I am shooting off my horse at practices and am the Secretary for a newly formed club, South Sound Mounted Shooters. You too can be shooting from your horse at one of the well run beginners' clinics.

In order to find your local club look through the three main associations involved with the sport. These are all great websites to learn more about cowboy mounted shooting too. Do not become overwhelmed with rules and regulations. Just find a club near you; then contact them. The Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association is by far the largest and most recognized association.

Practicing a Course

We learned there are many courses.
We learned there are many courses.

Once a club has enough interest in new to the sport folks they will give a beginner’s clinic (sometimes termed differently). You may want to attend some practice meetings as a spectator or business meetings but this is not usually necessary. The beginners' clinic will walk you through everything you will need to know to get started. You just need to show up with your horse and tack.

They are run slightly different from club to club but you will probably have an un-mounted portion to show you the dress code for the sport during competitions. You will see different tack and equipment used by those that are involved with the sport. I was given a set of homemade earplugs for my horse. You do not need to be prepared to ride with competition clothing at your clinic. For example, you can see I have a ballcap on and not a cowboy hat.

Then you may go see a course of balloons. The clinicians will discuss with you how the courses are set up and explain how they will be ridden. But, you are not riding yet because you are being exposed to basics first. You will walk through the course using your arm and hand as a guide. Then you will be given pistol handling instructions and do it with the blanks. All of this equipment will be supplied.

Under Clinician Supervision

Practicing at the clinic with supervision.
Practicing at the clinic with supervision.

The clinicians may do a mounted demonstration for you. Some of them may be fairly new to the sport and be able to explain where they were not too long before. Then you tack up and ride around. Then once all are settled you will be placed into a group of riders. You will be surrounded by the "experienced at shooting" riders. A person in the middle of the arena will shoot off some blanks. Usually this goes well. Your group will just keep getting closer and closer to the noise and ride through the smoke.

Then once all is well you will handle the pistol; while surrounded by riders in front, inside and behind you will shoot to the outside. You have control so this will build your confidence. You did it; you shot off your horse. Then you will be given a chance to ride through the course and shoot. It is amazing to me how much progress is made at a clinic like this. All of these pictures were taken of me and my horse during our clinic. Neither of us had been exposed to this before that day.

Most competitions will require riders to have attended a clinic like this before they can register. But once you are part of a group of people like this you can join the local club and attend practices. Those that have the equipment have been extremely helpful to the newbies. I still borrow holsters and pistols. They have been supportive enough, I attended my first "shoot" the weekend of February 1st-3rd . You can see vidoes from it below. It was hosted by the Applegate Trail Peacemakers based out of Oregon. This was the first of a series that they are putting on.

South Sound Mounted Shooters is in Washington State based around the Capitol area of Olympia. They are putting on new shooter clinics and will be hosting MSA sanctioned events.

Summing it up

Mounted shooting may look complex and intimidating. However, finding a local club and attending a beginners' clinic will introduce you to the fun sport. You will be shooting from your horse when you do. After that you will be given plenty of opportunities to practice if you join a club. Happy shooting!

Mounted Shooting: Getting Started

First Course of the Weekend at Competition

Last Course of Weekend at Competition; See Improvements!


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