|Good Enough for Cowboy Shooting by
How many times have you been in a discussion with your
Cowboy pards and the subject of accuracy comes up? Around here it seems
to be quite often and many times someone will say, “my rifle or pistol
doesn't shoot real good groups but it's good enough for cowboy shooting”.
When this type of statement is made I usually have the
highly intelligent response of, “HUH”? Even if I don't say it, the thought
will pass through my mind, “What exactly is good enough for cowboy shooting
in terms of accuracy?” Is a 6 inch group at 50 yards considered good enough
or would the group size need to be covered by a silver dollar at this distance?
In my opinion, it would be the latter, and I'll tell you why:
Let's assume that Gabby and his cowboy shootin’ pard,
Roy, have a friendly competition going and every month each of them tries
to better the other. For some time now they have known that their skills
are nearly identical, but for some reason Roy seems to get the edge nearly
every time. He just seems to come up with a couple less misses per match
than Gabby does. Gabby has thought about it and has practiced but for some
reason just can't quite come up with the answer. He has considered the
target size and distance and just can't figure where Roy gets the edge.
Then one day Roy stops by Gabby’s house and asks if he
wants to go to the range for a little paper punching. This is something
Gabby, as a steel ringer, has never put much stock in, but since he doesn't
have anything to do anyway he throws his shooting gear into the truck and
he and Roy are off to the range.
The first couple targets are set out at 50 yards, and
they each shoot 10 rounds at their individual targets. When they bring
them in to take a look the results are pretty interesting. On Roy’s target
there is a nice group just over 1 inch, and on Gabby’s target the group
is just a bit more than 6 inches. This is when Gabby turns to Roy and says,
“yeah, it ain’t real good, but we shoot at 18 inch targets so this is plenty
good for cowboy shooting.
Good enough for cowboy shooting. There it is again. Now
we have the answer as to why 2nd place seems to fit Gabby so well. The
reality is that he is shooting at smaller targets than Roy. With his group
size Roy gets to shoot at an 18 inch target, and Gabby’s 6 inch group shrinks
that target to less than 16 inches. Although these numbers are exaggerated,
the principle remains valid.
Bottom line: know what your firearm is capable of and
try to get the best you can from it.
For the rifle, it amounts to finding the best load by
trying different bullet styles and weights and different types of powders
and granulations. A good start in this process is to slug the bore so you
know what size bullet your rifle likes best. There are many reference materials
available, but it's even more fun to experiment to find what combination
best suits your particular firearm.
Take the time to punch some paper to make sure you are
getting the results you are looking for, and, for black powder, know how
many rounds of each different load you can shoot before your group size
starts to grow from fouling in the barrel.
The same would be true for the pistol, especially cap
Work out the loading procedure and what works best for
your revolvers. Take the time to punch some holes in paper targets so that
again, you know you are getting the results you are looking for.
Know your guns.
Know your loads.
Make sure your firearms do not require a second thought
at the match so that your head can be in the game and not on the small
How good is good enough for cowboy shooting? I’d say that
would have to be as good as you can make it.