The Cowboy Way Of SASS

by Colonel Dan


The Cowboy Chronicle

December  2002


“My heroes have always been cowboys”

Recently, I wrote of the importance for having and living the courage of our convictions—that patriotic duty and moral strength to live and stand up to the face of deceit and hypocrisy in defense of traditional American ideals, values and principles.  I think we all look for and admire people in our lives that have such strength of character—people who love the ideals this country was founded upon and unafraid to openly defend those values regardless of what is politically correct at the time.  Finding this quality in individuals is encouraging.  Finding it in groups is inspiring.

I know of such a group.  They call their way of life the Cowboy Way and they do live the values based on what I refer to as colonial traditionalism and are not bashful in the least about standing up in defense of their principles.  In fact, they are very vocal in that regard.  This admirable group is the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS)ä—the cowboy action shooters of our day.

Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) was the creation of Harper Creigh, a California gun enthusiast that suggested to his friends one day in 1981 that they shoot a match using only guns of old west design.  The group called themselves the Wild Bunch and eventually formalized CAS.  Led by Harper who adopted the alias “Judge Roy Bean”, they founded SASS in 1987, and the Judge donned SASS badge #1. 

Everyone in SASS has an alias (a nickname reflective of the old west or their own creative imaginations) a membership number on their badge and wears 19th century style clothes at the shoots.  Shoots wherein only guns of pre-1899 design are used and which are governed by strict rules of safety, fairness and the Spirit of the Game—that spirit being a part of the overall Cowboy Way.

It’s that Cowboy Way that becomes more than just a weekend of vicarious living in the 19th century.  The Cowboy Way becomes a way of thinking, living and feeling about others, values, fair play and old-fashioned American principles reflective of a more romantic and independent era.  Such transference of values to everyday life is not unique to SASS.

Clayton Moore, The Lone Ranger of TV fame, spoke and wrote many times about how playing the Lone Ranger role and the values that character portrayed on the screen transferred to and transformed his private life.  He adopted the values espoused by the Lone Ranger and it became a way of life for him until he died just recently—same phenomena with SASS.

SASS members come from every corner of life and can be found all around the world these days.  It makes no difference how much money you have, what you do for a living in your other life, what race, religion or gender you are—just so you are true to the Cowboy Way and the traditional American values of that simpler age, willing to stand up for those convictions and like shooting those old style guns of course.

I admire these folks for a number of reasons.  They are solid patriots who uphold the principles of and live by the values of an era when a man’s word was his bond, his spirit was free and independent as the wind that blows across the prairie and self-reliance without government “help” was just the way it was.  They have a sincere interest in sharing and being with others of like mind and always hold out a hand of welcome to those who want to join.  They are not however, a proselytizing group—they don’t have to be.  They are just solid Americans who naturally draw others to themselves through the example they set living out their own lives guided by that spirit of honor, patriotic values, and a sincere interest in their country and their countrymen.  They have an unparalleled sense of humor, fertile imaginations and dearly love the sport—all infectious qualities that attract others in great numbers.

Now don’t think for one minute they are so devoted to a set of harmonious ideals that they would never think of saying anything offensive or speak ill of anyone.  This is not a bashful bunch.  These people do indeed have the courage of their convictions, speak it and live it.  You’ll look long and hard to find a more devoted group to that spirit of original America and the solid American values we admired in generations long past. 

The SASS gang reminds me of the spirit I so admired in the wonderful soldiers I served with for many years and the rodeo cowboys I’ve known.  I’ve found them to be true sons and daughters of the American spirit and spiritual descendents of men like Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin.  I’m proud to be one of their number—specifically, Life Member #24025! 

The Judge probably didn’t realize his CAS idea would ever become a social movement that extended beyond the limits of the shooting range, but it has.  It now has tens of thousands of members worldwide and growing at a staggering rate. 

If you’re looking for people whose strength is made from the stuff of traditional America, they’re in abundance within SASS.  They have the courage to live their convictions and they really do live it—both on and off the range.  You can find them at,

I’m sure there are other such groups out there that live as courageously and are just as patriotic.  We need such groups to join ranks in standing up for time-honored American values and unapologetically live by their convictions.  I’m obviously not familiar with all these groups, but I know they’re out there. 

The SASS folks I do know and they reflect the sincere down home” America we’ve come to appreciate, not the phony “inside the beltway” America we’ve come to tolerate.

Just the view from my saddle…

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