Basic Cowboy Action Shooting Safety Rules
This page is not an exhaustive list of rules, but we have tried to list
some of the most important ones.
General Topic
Loaded Guns
  • No one shall load their firearms except at the designated loading station, just prior to their turn to shoot.
  • Guns are considered loaded, until all spent cartridges have been cleared and verified by the observer at the unloading station.
  • The loading and the unloading process is to be observed by another person who verifies that the gun is loaded correctly with the proper number of rounds and unloaded after the shooter is finished with the scenario.
  • If persons waiting to shoot need to leave the firing  line for any reason, they should leave the loaded weapons on the loading table. 
  • No one should ever pass between a loaded gun and the firing line.
  • The muzzle direction of a loaded gun should not break the 170 plane (see "170 Rule").
  • Guns
  • No finger should be inside the trigger guard until the shooter is in position and ready to fire.
 Unloaded Guns
  • Unloaded guns are to be treated with the same respect as loaded guns. Guns, loaded or unloaded, should never under any circumstance be pointed at another person. 
  • Guns being carried to and from the shooting position and to and to and from the firing line should be carried in the "muzzle up" position.
  • Actions of long guns should be left in the open position at all times until they are being staged for shooting.
  • "Muzzle up" is the preferred way to carry any gun. 
  • Pistols may, of course, be carried in holsters.
 The "170" Rule
  • The 170 degree rule speaks of an invisible boundary which, the muzzle direction of a loaded gun may not break. If a person standing on the firing line, facing down range, were to point down the firing line to the left and swing to the right until pointing down the firing line to the right, he has swept a 180 degree arc. Subtract 5 degrees on each side and the arc becomes 170 degrees. In other words, a shooter may not point a loaded weapon down or parallel to the firing line. He must keep the muzzle direction pointed somewhere down range at all times to avoid "sweeping" some one with the guns muzzle. This includes pointing straight up and straight down. (see diagram)
  • Holstered pistols do break the 170 rule, but this is the only exception. Once the gun is in hand, breaking the 170 rule is grounds for disqualification.
  • Cross Draw holsters create an added concern since they naturally point slightly backward and since drawing a gun with a the right hand from a gun on the left side (or visa versa) causes the muzzle to sweep behind the firing line. Therefore, persons using cross draw holsters must twist, or take a half step so that when the pistol is drawn, the muzzle does not break the 170 plane.