The Outlaws Are Comin’…

by Lady Tombstone, SASS #54252

If you are a regular SASS Wire reader, or have been a shooter at any of the Southeastern matches in the last few years you’ve probably read snippets, or heard mention of some cowboy shooters who are gaining notoriety due to the way they shoot. This interest and excitement is about the Outlaw category. It continues to be amazing to watch the progress of Outlaw shooting as it advances west across the country and becomes more and more popular. A bit of background and an explanation of exactly what Outlaw shooting is might be beneficial to shooters interested in learning more.

tombstoneTennessee Tombstone, SASS #34723, joined SASS toward the end of 2000, and started shooting with the Smoky Mountain Shootist Society, as well as with a club that would become the Ocoee Rangers. Early on it became pretty obvious to Tombstone that he was not going to be a top contender anytime soon, and his complete lack of competitive spirit was a further hindrance. So, focusing on the fun aspect of the sport, he decided to shoot like his heroes did in the movies: From the hip.

Tombstone ran into another cowboy, Lane, SASS #27698, who had the same attitude and thoughts, so they started shooting together at most of the local matches. Loose Cinch, SASS #37255, who shoots in Cleveland, TN, was also playing around with hip-shooting. For the next few years each of them registered as whatever category fit their particular style of shooting (such as Duelist or Gunfighter) but still shot the match from the hip. In 2005, they settled on the name Outlaw to describe their style of shooting. They did not care how a cowboy shot—Traditional, Duelist, or Gunfighter—as long as he held the pistols and shotgun below chest level and did not aim. They still allowed the rifle to be aimed and shot from the shoulder—if the shooter wanted to.

BadlandsCinch, Lane, and Tombstone pestered, badgered, and recruited as many fellow cowboys as they could to join in their fun. Badlands Beck, SASS #27209, Rawhide Rex, SASS #29168,  Rawhide and Curly Bill Kelly, SASS #28451, began to shoot Outlaw at all the matches they attended. Soon Outlaw Cactus Red, SASS #47281, joined them and later Ranger Z, SASS #25940, started as well. The Outlaw Posse was growing!

There are now many Outlaw Ambassadors around the country: Larry Earp, SASS #60034, Whiskey Creek Johnson, SASS #67187, Just Little Joe, SASS #63583, Hico Kid, SASS #35226, and more recently T-Bone Dooley, SASS #36388. Larry Earp from Florida has gotten quite a few clubs down there to recognize Outlaw. Whiskey Creek Johnson, from the Highland Regulators in Kentucky, has been a major force in pushing Outlaw everywhere he shoots, along with Just Little Joe, from the same club. Hico Kid is one of the best Outlaw shooters around and always has a good showing wherever he shoots.

The Smoky Mountain Shoot-Out, with its trademark mascot, the Smoky Mountain Outlaw, began offering Outlaw as an awarded category in 2007 and had a special Outlaw side match category that let shooters to try their hand at hip-shooting. That same year, the Kentucky State Shoot became the first SASS sanctioned match to recognize Outlaw as an awarded category. The Alabama State Shoot and the Tennessee State Shoot are also now recognizing Outlaw as an awarded category, and the North Carolina State shoot will recognize the category in 2010 with at least five registered shooters. And, rumor has it that Mule Camp 2010 is planning on recognizing Outlaw as an awarded category as well.

In 2008, Loose Cinch and Tennessee Tombstone attended Comin’at’Cha, the Southwest Regional. They both registered as Gunfighter but still shot from the hip, as Outlaw was not an offered category (and it should be noted that at this time Outlaw is not a SASS recognized category). After watching Cinch and Tombstone shoot, T-Bone Dooley tried Outlaw shooting and had so much fun he registered for it at both the 2009 US Open and 2009 Comin’at’Cha where it was an awarded category at both events for the first time.

Okay, history lesson is now over; let’s get to the main issues. With the astoundingly rapid gain in popularity of this category, everyone who shoots Outlaw needs to be on the same page in regard to the rules of this category. What’s that you say? “We’re Outlaws! We don’t need no stinkin’ rules!”Well, relax; there are only five or six of them, and they are pretty darn simple.

First and foremost, safety and all SASS rules apply. Second, pistols must be shot one handed—you’ve never seen one of your heroes in the movies hold and cock a gun with two hands—so its Duelist, Double duelist, or Gunfighter style only. Much like the Gunfighter category, Outlaw shooting is NOT for the novice shooter; proficiency in gun handling is a must before trying this category! Third, you must hold the pistols and shotgun below chest level with elbows bent, without aiming or sighting down the barrel. Fourth, the rifle may be aimed and shot from the shoulder if the shooter prefers. Fifth, any SASS approved caliber is allowed. (The Outlaws started to disallow 32s but realized no respectable Outlaw would use something that small—unless it was a pocket pistol!). That’s about it for the rules of the Outlaw category, except to HAVE FUN. Once you try it, it’s hard to shoot (and miss!) any other way.

As a postscript: There has been a lot of great interest in the Outlaw category lately but we have gotten some negative publicity from a rumor and misconception that there is an “initiation” to Outlaw shooting, involving your hat being shot up. Contrary to what some may say, this is a complete fallacy. While some folks are shooting other’s hats and saying it has to do with the Outlaws, and some even want their hat shot as some sort of “badge of honor,” Outlaws do not shoot hats as a part of this category and we welcome anyone who wants to try the Outlaw category without sacrificing their hat. If, for some strange reason, you want your hat shot, please ask one of your friends to shoot it after a match or at some other time.

Visit the Outlaw Shooters web page ( or contact Tombstone ( for more information. Email Tombstone a picture of you or someone else shooting Outlaw and he will gladly post it on the website.