What’s Mounted Shooting All About?

Take a look:

Here is the beginnings of a world champion, There is a skill level for everyone to start and enjoy mounted shooting:


Mounted shooting is the fastest growing equestrian sport in North America. It is a fast paced event that combines horsemanship with safe firearms handling and shooting skills. Similar to barrel racing with poles and cowboy shooting added. Two .45 calibre single action revolvers with special blank ammunition are used to shoot balloon targets while riding your horse through over 100 competition patterns. This is a timed event with penalties assessed for missed targets and overturned barrels.

Safety is first and foremost. Our special blank ammunition is filled with gunpowder only. No bullet or projectile. The gunpowder alone will break a balloon up to a distance of about 15 feet. After that not even a balloon will pop. Safe and very fun, both for competitors and spectators.

The Manitoba Mounted Shooting Association is a member club of the Manitoba Horse Council.

Our clinics and training courses make it is easy to learn and get started. Membership is open to adults 18 years and older. If you are a shootin’ cowboy or cowgirl at heart, come join the fun!

Requirements

Canadian Firearms Act

To participate in mounted shooting you must hold a valid Restricted Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). To obtain this license you must take and pass two training courses and fill out an application for a PAL:

  • Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC)
  • Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC)
  • Application for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (Form CAFC 921)

The courses are very simple. The process is not hard. Don’t be afraid. However the processing of your application may take 3-6 months. Bottom line, start this process early. Contact us for assistance and guidance. We are here to make this painless for you.

Horses

Mounted shooting is open to all breeds of horses. Some horses take to this sport easily, others do not. It is up to your horse’s temperament and your desire to train him or her to get used to the ‘BANG’ of shooting, turning, and going fast. It is recommended that riders use earplugs for themselves and their horses.

Using herd dymanics and our progressive training methods we typically find calm horses and riders are often ready to shoot safely after just two hours of attending our beginner clinic sessions. This is totally amazing to see so the only thing to do is to come see for yourself.

Clothing requirements

It is required that you dress western. You may either dress in traditional western style or you can dress in the old time style of the late 1800’s. Traditional style includes a long sleeve western shirt, 5 pocket blue jeans covered by chinks or chaps, western boots, and a cowboy hat. If you prefer ‘rolling back the clock ‘ to the late 1800’s try to look as authentic to the period as possible, by wearing shirts without collars, and high-waisted pants with buttons, not zippers, and an old style cowboy hat, for example.

Guns and ammunition

We use two .45 caliber single action (SA) revolvers like those used in the late 1800’s. Single action revolvers must be cocked each time before firing by drawing the hammer back.

We use special blank ammunition filled with gunpowder only, no bullet. The gunpowder alone will break a balloon up to about 15 feet. Live rounds are strictly prohibited at competitions. At each event the Range Officer controls the ammunition and oversees the loading and unloading of the rider’s guns. Riders do not carry loaded guns outside of the arena or when not competing. Firearm safety is strictly enforced!

Gun leather

We carry our two SA revolvers in holsters on gun belts worn by the riders. Each revolver is loaded with 5 rounds of blank ammunition. We start inside the arena with revolvers holstered. You begin by riding across the start line, drawing one revolver, follow the pattern and shoot 5 balloon targets. You then holster that revolver, round a barrel, draw your second revolver and shot another 5 ballon targets. You finally holster your revolver and cross the finish line.

Skill Levels

There is a Men’s Division, a Women’s Division, and a Senior’s Division, with Classes 1-6 in each of those divisions. All riders start at Class 1. When a rider wins Class 1 twice, they advance to Class 2, and when they win Class 2 three times, they advance to Class 3. Four wins at Class 3 and on to Class 4, etc. There is also a prize for the best score overall where age or gender does not matter.

Kids

Initially participants in competitions will be restricted to adults 18 years of age and older.

Patterns

There are over a 100 possible patterns.

Scoring

The riders are scored on time and accuracy. There is a 5 second penalty for each missed balloon, a 5 second penalty for dropping a gun, a 10 second penalty for not running the course correctly and a 60 second penalty for falling off your horse. Speed is important, however, accuracy is usually more important than speed. A typical pattern can be run in 15-35 seconds, so penalties can really hurt.

Safety

Safety is first and foremost. Firearm safety. Horse safety. Rider safety. Spectator safety. All are strictly enforced. Our club sponsor clinics and practices to assist everyone in having a safe and enjoyable experience. During matches a Range Officer inside the arena insures safe riding and shooting is exercised. New shooters are required to demonstrate that they have achieved minimum acceptable levels of riding and shooting skills before being permitted to compete.

Read the article about us on page 34/35 of the
April 23rd issue of Horse Country magazine: