Our purpose is to promote "safe Western Action Shooting including the re-enactment and promotion of the historical Old West heritage of the United States in all its ethnic, social and occupational diversity"

NCOWS, 6820 University Ave, Suite 234, Cedar Falls, IA. 50613, Phone 319-277-6839


Rules and Regulations
Range Rules and Regulations
Safety and Procedure Rules
Rules for Air Horns and Flags

No matt-finished or brushed-finish stainless steel firearms are allowed except as specifically exempted in these Rules and Regulations, e.g. only those stainless steel firearms whose finish resembles an original nickel-plated finish.

No modern commemorative firearms shall be allowed

Projectiles shall be cast lead or lead alloy. No metal-jacketed projectiles shall be permitted. Muzzleloaders shall use round ball or elongated projectiles if such were original to the firearm.

Muzzleloading percussion firearms shall be original to the period or authentic reproductions.

Cartridge firearms shall be original to the period or authentic reproductions of original makes and models. “Short-stroke” modifications to lever-action firearms are not allowed.

Sights for all firearms shall be of original design or configuration.

Approved calibers and loads include any that were introduced prior to or during the period of 1865-1899 and that were originally introduced as a black powder load. Common examples include but are not limited to: .22 rimfire, .32-20 WCF, .32 S&W Short, .32 S&W Long, .38-40 WCF, .44-40 WCF, .44 S&W American, .44 S&W Russian, .45 Long Colt, .45 S&W, .45-70 Government. Any cartridge designation that was not originally introduced as a black powder load will not be allowed except for appropriate firearms in the smokeless cartridge division only, or for specifically-designated shooting events. .38 Special/.357 Magnum and .44 Special/.44 Magnum cartridges will be allowed if loaded with black powder or with smokeless powder to black powder velocities.

.22 caliber hand guns for main stages are to be pocket pistol/derringers only. .22 revolvers and rifles are restricted in use for specialty shoots only.

Single-Shot cartridge rifles shall weigh no more than twenty (20) pounds for official NCOWS competition.

Range Rules and Regulations

Firing ranges shall be "cold;" i.e., there shall be no loaded firearms allowed anywhere but the firing line.

No fast draw competition.

Eye and ear protection are mandatory in "hot" areas--the firing line and immediate surroundings.

Ear muff-style hearing protectors are allowed, as are modern-designed shooting glasses.

No alcohol allowed on the range during shooting hours, either for use or possession. No illegal controlled substances at any time. No smoking in the shooting area.

No fingers in the trigger guards unless the shooter is on the firing line and preparing to fire at the command of the range officer, or in the act of shooting. Shooters failing to observe this rule may be disqualified from competition.

All participants, hearing the command "cease fire," or being made aware of other danger signals, will immediately cease firing and keep their firearms pointed down range with the muzzle in a downward position.

Shooters are responsible for the safe condition of their firearms.

Individuals making a formal protest to the Judge or Deputy Judge of questionable acts or violation of the rules by an individual shall accompany such protest by a $10.00 protest fee. If the protest is upheld the fee will be returned. If the protest is denied, the fee is forfeited to the individual against whom the protest was made. The Judge or Deputy Judge's decision shall be final.

Safety and Procedure Rules
for All National, Regional and NCOWS Posse Shoots

1. Treat and respect every firearm as if it were loaded.

2. Eye and ear protection is required for all competitors and spectators. Safety glasses with side shields recommended.

3. No loaded firearms except at the firing line or loading table.

4. No quick-draw at any time.

5. Revolvers are to always have the hammer down on an empty chamber or between chambers when loaded.

6. No breaking a 170E plane with any firearm at any time during the stage. Draws from a cross draw must be done with the body turned to the firing line so the muzzle of the revolver is not breaking the 170 degree rule. Stage disqualification for first offense, match disqualification for second offense in same day. Penalties for having the finger in the trigger guard or the revolver cocked before it is pointed down-range: 1st infraction - disqualification from the stage; 2nd infraction - disqualification from the match.

7. All long guns will have actions open at all times except on the firing line or when they are in cases.

8. When carrying firearms to loading or unloading tables, muzzles must be in vertical position, pointed straight up.

9. A dropped unloaded firearm ends the stage for a shooter. A dropped loaded firearm will result in a match disqualification. The firearm will be retrieved and cleared by Posse Leader or Timer.

10. A dropped round is a dead round and must be picked up at the end of the stage. (Judges option: shooter may acquire another round from person.)

11. Everyone will load, stage, and unload his/her own firearms, except for those physically challenged or inexperienced, needing assistance.

12. No running under time with a charged firearm in hand.

13. No fanning or twirling a firearm at any time.

14. Shotguns are staged with magazines and chambers open and empty and are loaded under the clock. (Pistoleer class, arms charged but not capped.) All empty shells must be ejected before grounding or moving throughout a stage when carrying the firearm.

15. Initially load rifles and revolvers at loading table only and only when the loading table is manned.

16. Shooter is to retrieve his/her own firearms and go directly to manned unload table after stage is completed.

17. No squib or magnum velocity loads. No jacketed bullets, only cast lead alloy only bullets. Shot is to be lead only, and no larger than #7 1/2's. Only cartridges and velocities approved in The Tally Book are allowed. Shooters may be held responsible for damage caused to a target by too "hot" a load.

18. All participants must attend a safety meeting before shooting in any event.

19. Posses should have no fewer than eight persons: one timer, one shooter, one watching the loading area, one watching the unloading, three watching hits and picking up brass, one loading

20. Refusal to follow the Stage Marshal or Judge's direction regarding safety or procedural rules will be grounds for match disqualification. Remember to think safety first and always! Don't be afraid to speak up if you see anyone handling a firearm improperly, but also remember to be courteous. If someone points out that you're handling a firearm carelessly, be grateful, not upset It's better to be corrected than have someone get hurt.

21. It is permissible if Posses allow for mule-eared shotguns to be cocked at the beginning of a scenario whether staged or in the shooter’s hands.

22. no cocked firearm with a live round under the hammer may ever leave the shooters hand except for a malfunction. This also means from one hand to the other.

NCOWS Rules for Air Horns and Flags

If something should occur down range that will need someone to cross over the firing line to fix it is the responsibility of the Timekeeper to use the air horn to notify his/her posse and all other posses that there is a problem. If the problem is not a matter that would endanger anyone -- two short blasts on the air horn after the shooter has finished the stage lets the posse leader on that posse know that a yellow flag is required. When two short blasts are heard and a yellow flag is raised on another posse, the Timekeeper should allow his/her shooter to finish his/her stage, proceed to the unloading table, lay all guns on the table and step back from the unloading table. Once the Timekeeper has determined that all firearms are either lying on the loading or unloading tables, then he/she will tell his/her Posse Leader to

raise the yellow flag for that posse. When all posses' yellow flags are raised, it is then safe for someone to cross the firing line to set targets, retrieve hats, etc. Once the problem has been rectified, the initiating posse's Timekeeper will tell his Posse Leader to raise the green flag. Only when all green flags have been raised, can any firearm be picked up or moved and shooting resume. If something should occur down range that presents eminent danger to person or persons, a long blast on the air horn by a timekeeper signifies an immediate cease fire. The long blast should be relayed by all Timekeepers to ensure everyone up and down the line hears it. The person on that and all stages are to stop firing immediate, lay down his/her firearm on the ground in front of him/her with the barrel facing down range, stand, step back from the firearm, and raise open and empty hands to signify he/she is clear. At that time the Timekeeper tells the Posse Leader to raise the red flag. Once the danger has been remedied, the initiating Timekeeper will let his/her Posse Leader know to raise the green flag. Shooters in the middle of stages on a red flag will be allowed to reshoot that stage. Firearms will be picked up and carried to the unloading table where they will be unloaded and cleared. The shooter will then need to proceed to loading table, reload and get ready to shoot through the stage again. While the interrupted shooter is unloading and reloading, the next shooters in line may proceed through the stage. Once the interrupted shooter is ready, he/she will shoot where ever in the shooting order that occurs.

See also:

Articles of Incorporation / By-Laws / Approved List / Unapproved List
Appendix A / Appendix B / Appendix C / Appendix D / Appendix E