Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy Shootin’ Fun!

Cowboy Mounted Shooting returns to Medora!

shoot out edit

This action packed family fun event involves cowboys and cowgirls of all ages riding their horses full speed while shooting at balloon targets. The event will take place June 21 and 22 at the rodeo grounds on the East end of town with FREE ADMISSION.  Competition will start at 9:30 and continue until all riders have shot their 4 runs.   Don’t worry, they shoot special black powder blanks with a range of about 20 feet.

Where did it start and how does it work?

Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (CMSA) was started about 20 years ago in Arizona by Jim Rogers who wanted to bring back the excitement of the cowboy days.  It is now the fastest growing equine sport in the WORLD!   The contestants stay true to the cowboy days wearing true Western apparel or period clothing of the 1870’s which can include the women wearing skirts.   Every contestant has 2 single action .45 caliber Colt replica revolvers like the Teddy Roosevelt would have worn.  The single action means before every shot, the rider has to pull the hammer back and if you see these contestants riding  you will be amazed as how fast they can actually do that.  Each pistol is loaded with 5 blanks.  The courses include 10 balloons, 5 of each color and after the first 5 of one color are shot, they holster that gun while still running and shoot the next 5.  To make things more difficult, there are about SIXTY different patterns that are used for this sport and the contestants don’t know what will be drawn until that morning!  You can’t train you horse to know where they will be going, these horses have to be well trained to steer with one hand and tolerate the gunfire.    Of course there are penalties, like 5 seconds added onto the time if a balloon is missed or if they knock a barrel etc.    There is a Range Master to watch for penalties and make sure rules are followed.  Gun safety is number one and every contestant is taught safety first.

After the pistol competition they will bring out the long guns, rifle and shotgun.  It runs about the same but after the first 5 targets with the pistol, they pull out the long gun, drop the reins and shoot the next 5 as their horse runs full speed to the finish line. Shotgun has 2 cluster targets while rifle has 5 with the level action guns.


Family fun for all?

Mounted shooting is truly a family sport with many contestants having a family member or even whole families compete.  There are 6 different levels divided up by men, women and seniors, over  50.  Everyone starts at level  1 and they are divided up by gender.  After a certain amount of wins in your level with a full class, contestants move up to the next level.

At the end of the match, an overall cowboy or cowgirl is named and yes, the girls win as often as the men!   Wranglers, kids under 12 can compete without shooting real guns running or even walking the course.    Last year’s Medora shoot included over 30 contestants from ND, SD, NE, MN, MT and Canada and this year early entries looks like it will be the same as return contestants say they won’t miss it!  Medora hospitality is great and the facilities are fantastic.  We think Teddy would agree.

This event is hosted by the ND Mounted Shooters Association.  They are always looking for more members, even if you don’t want to shoot, they are looking for help and sponsors.    For more information about them please see their website or talk to contestants.

Plan a trip to Medora to watch the mounted shooting, take in the Pitchfork Fondue and Musical and if the bug hits, enjoy a horseback ride at the Medora Riding Stables and Trail Rides.  There is something about being in Medora that brings out the cowboy (or girl) in everyone, even the ‘real’ ones.

Content created by North Dakota Mounted Shooters Association

GUN’S A BLAZIN’ IN THE BADLANDS – Medora Rodeo Grounds – Free admission – 9:30 am until done possibly around 3.  



  1. Bonnie Andersen
    June 2, 2014    

    I have my bloomers packed and waiting to shoot again in Medora. We had so much fun last year.

  2. Yippee ki-yay Bonnie! Can’t wait to see you out here.

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