Beginner Cowboy Mounted Shooting

Learn Cowboy Mounted Shooting

Cowboy Mounted Shooting Training

This is for Beginner Cowboy Mounted Shooting and the training steps Curt Moore will take you through on how to get you and your horse ready for the sport of Cowboy Mounted Shooting in Texas or at your location.

 Welcome to Beginner Cowboy Mounted Shooting

If you already own a horse that you wish to use for Cowboy Mounted Shooting, you will need to test him for a tolerance to gunfire. Make sure to introduce everything slow. In beginner cowboy mounted shooting its one step at a time. It would be a shame to ruin your chances of using your own horse because you tried to rush him. This sport also requires a great amount of horsemanship also your horse must know how to neck rein and respond quickly with left and right leads for you will only be able to use one hand while your shooting.

Getting Acclimated

We recommend taking the horse to matches and letting him hang out around the gunfire. Being close to the arena is wonderful training. Using balloons is another great way of introduction.

This will allow you to observe the horse’s reaction and see what he gets excited about. If he shows little or no trauma to the gunfire, try riding him around the other horses. This gives your horse confidence and lets him see that the other horses aren’t bothered by the noise. The next step will be very easy if you were able to allow your horse to acclimate to gunfire at some practices first or at Shootfire Ranch. At Shootfire Ranch, Curt Moore will teach all of the things necessary for a mounted shooting horse including pressure and release, neck raining, leads, and lots more.
To start shooting off your horse try the following activities.


Beginner Cowboy Mounted ShootingA good way to start Beginner Cowboy Mounted Shooting is with the use of a .22 caliber Starter Pistol. The instructor will fire the gun while the other person rides the horse. We believe this is the best way to introduce the horse to new sounds or things that may be scary to the horse. Ride your horse!

We usually start by putting the horse through a simple exercise, like a slow lope around in a circle. The instructor will start by firing a round when the horse is at the farthest point away from him. We continue to move closer and closer to the horse. Be sure to lope the horse in both directions so that both sides of the horse learn that the gunfire won’t hurt him. We also let the horse smell the gun after it’s fired. If the horse is responding satisfactorily, the next phase would be for the rider to ride behind another horse that’s experienced while continuing to lope in the circle pattern.

The rider in front, will perform the following actions. Dry fire 5 shots with one pistol and then take one shot with the cap pistol, once the pistol is fired immediately stop the horse giving him release and giving him praise. Progress with exercise moving closer and closer to horse in front. Next, ride in front of the other rider who’s firing. Continue in this fashion until you are firing off two or three rounds in a row there is little or no reaction. Now its time to go up another level by shooting off your horse.  Using one pistol, dry fire it 4 times and have the 5th be the actual gun shot. Once the pistol it’s fired immediately stop the horse giving him release and giving him praise. Carry on this procedure going both ways in the circle pattern.

At this time, if all has gone well, we repeat the entire procedure with the .45 caliber revolver loaded with ½ load blanks you will be using. Cowboy Mounted Shooting PracticeThis step usually goes much faster because the foundation of praise is already established. After you have your acclimated its time give all release to your horse, dismount, loosen your girth, and go untack your horse, for he/she has had a hard day and work and deserves a treat.

Next would to bring out a couple of poles with balloons and try shooting the balloons as you ride past them. In this fashion, continue to fire from the hip (3 o’ clock, don t get any closer to his head until much later in his training to avoid ringing his bell and ruining a good shooting horse) while still allowing the horse to experience the balloon breaking at the moment the gun goes bang . The balloon blowing up is always a surprise to the new horse in the beginning!


We would like to take this opportunity to advise the use of earplugs for your horse. In Beginner Cowboy Mounted Shooting, these are highly advisable for the new shooting mount. In most cases, the earplugs will help the horse adjust to the sound and will allow you to advance your training schedule much faster than without them. If you have access to a gun trained horse, use him to train the new mounted shooting horse. We ride the trained horse and fire the gun. Ride the trainee around while the shooting is going on. The idea is to work your way closer and closer to the shooting. The goal is to be riding next to the gun horse while the gun goes off on the opposite side from the trainee. If you can do this, it is time to try shooting off the back of the new horse.

Become a Team

Now that you are well on your way to having a gun broke horse, you are ready to begin the job of becoming a team. At this point, you and your new horse should be working on being around as much gunfire as possible and gaining confidence on as many aspects of mounted shooting as possible. If the horse is still having trouble with balloons, try tying lots of balloons around his stall or paddock. This works especially well if the balloons can be tied around the feeder. The horse has to go past the balloons to eat. Since a horse is always hungry, this will gain you the quickest possible results. You could also turn a horse out in a round pen with a few balloons to play with. We feel it is important to vary the horses training.

Take it Slow

Try to give the horse a break now and then. I like to go on trail-rides for a change. This is relaxing for both the horse and rider. It allows you to bond with your horse.

Practice on various patterns with the guns and holsters of choice. Be sure to go through all the motions just like a real stage. Try dry firing (check with manufacturer s instructions or talk to other experienced shooters for further information on dry firing your make of gun) at the targets while navigating the patterns. Do not start this exercise at full speed! That would be detrimental to both the horse and rider.

In Beginner Cowboy Mounted Shooting, start at a trot or lope and help the horse navigate the turns on the course of fire. As the horse gains confidence in “running patterns” or turning the barrel/poles, the rider can increase the speed of travel. If the new horse has difficulty traveling forward, try following a seasoned or well-schooled horse around the course. This seasoned horse need not be a gun-trained horse, as you are only dry firing now.

We have found that a horse that lacks confidence will usually follow a confident horse. Try not to overdo the following aspect to the point of dependence though. Practice your rate of speed around the obstacles while at the same time, practicing the drawing and holstering of the guns. This helps you align your timing to the speed of the horse.


Beginner Cowboy Mounted Shooting

Everyone loves Cowboy Mounted Shooting

Try not to use the same patterns all the time and mix them up for your sake as well as your horses. I don t want my horse to memorize the patterns; I want him to listen to me and wait until I tell him to turn. In this manor, the horse won’t become confused when he sees a familiar pattern. Try to train the horse to be aware of obstacles, and to expect a signal from you as one approaches. In other words, when my horse & I come to an obstacle, he gathers himself up, because he knows something is going to happen (turn, circle, pass between, etc.), but he waits for my signal on which way to go. This training method takes longer, but is well worth the effort. Also, we have experienced Horses for sale.

Learn Cowboy Mounted Shooting secrets from Curt Moore. Whether you were born in the saddle or have never been on a horse, Cowboy Mounted Shooting is an amazing sport. Curt Moore offers the best in Texas for hands-on training and expert instruction for you and your horse. Cowboy Mounted Shooting is the fastest growing Equestrian sport in the United States.

Example of Beginner Cowboy Mounted Shooting

With continued training, be sure to get in as much gun practice as possible. One point we would like to bring up again; do not burn out your horse doing the same thing all the time.

Visit our store for our variety of lessons and training programs for beginner cowboy mounted shooting. Also we have horse ear plugs and course cards which will help in competitions and while training.

Download this “How to” pamphlet of Cowboy Mounted Shooting by Mounted Shooting Supplies.

Also Curt offers his services at all Shoots. His guidance will enable you to be more effective in your pattern strategy and shooting skills. Check out how to host your own Clinic.

Visit Curts Cowboy Mounted Shooting Training site

For more information visit the CMSA website

There are other great sites for information regarding Beginner Cowboy Mounted Shooting

Western Shooting Horse 

CMSA Rundown

Mounted Shooters of America

Cowboy Mounted Shooters Association 

Beginner Cowboy Mounted Shooting was last modified: September 7th, 2017 by Curt Moore

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