When John “Skinny” Clarke isn’t shooting a Single Action Shooting Society match, he functions as the editor-in-chief of The Cowboy Chronicle, a quarterly publication dedicated to the craft of cowboy action shooting, which he describes as “the most fun you can have at a match.” We sat down with him to get some tips on what it takes to be a speed shooter in the world of skinning smoke wagons, working levers, and blasting scatterguns.
1. Ditch the Production Parts
One of the first things to do to become a faster SASS Shooter is to ditch the production parts in favor of third-party options. Similar to other styles of competitive shooting, a variety of third-party companies create specific parts to help competitors achieve their goals and shave off some time. Clarke listed Wolff Gunsprings and Lee Springs as some of the best offering drop-in kits.
Clarke also advises familiarizing yourself with the gun’s internals and recognizing when parts need replacing. Replacing production springs and removing small imperfections often make you faster.
2. Get it “Slicked Up” Professionally
If the do-it-yourself treatment isn’t sufficient, the next step is to “slick it up.” This involves sending the gun to a reputable and trustworthy gunsmith, typically skilled in single-action revolvers. The gunsmith short strokes the gun hones the chambers and polishes everything to perfection. Clarke described Bob James, a well-recognized SASS gunsmith, and his ability to make a Colt SAA “feel just like glass, it’s that smooth.”
3. Dry Fire Practice
* Make Sure All Guns Are Unloaded and All Live Ammunition is Out of the Room Before Dry-Fire Practice*
SASS is no different than USPSA or IDPA in terms of preparation through practice. Clarke’s favorite dry-fire drills are simple and easy to accomplish at home.
He suggests taping pie plates to a wall to practice drawing the handgun, aiming it at the plates, and pulling the trigger. Keep doing this, and you’ll get faster and faster on target. Clarke also suggests working on smooth draws and reholstering to cut down on time.
His second dry fire drill centers on loading and unloading shotguns. Shotguns always start empty during the competition, so practicing speedy loading will up your game. Milliseconds here and there pay big dividends.
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