Western Heritage and Cowboy Shooting

Have fun today and step into the past!

4-H Western Heritage Project logo

The Old West
When: 1860-1900
Where: West of the Mississippi
Who: Cowboys, outlaws, pioneers, bankers, ranchers, sod busters, schoolmarms, buffalo hunters, undertakers, lawmen, railroaders, scouts, miners, native Americans, former soldiers, gamblers, entertainers, etc.

The 4-H Western Heritage Project combines a study of the Old West with a different type of 4-H shooting — western action shooting. The purpose of this project is to provide an avenue for 4-H members and adult leaders to experience the lifestyles and cultures of the American frontier during the period of 1860-1900 through a living history approach to learning while instilling the concepts of gun safety and personal responsibility.

Young boy firing a rimfire pistol at an outdoor shooting range.

Project goals and purpose

  • The learning and application of safe firearm handling.
  • Preserving and gaining an appreciation for the heritage of the Old West within the time period of 1860-1900.
  • Living history education through the use of historically accurate firearms, clothing, and accessories
  • Encourage interest in American history that will lead to personal research and increased knowledge of the Old West.

Missouri 4-H age guidelines

9-10 year-olds

  • Rimfire rifle only
  • Previously completed 1 year of 4-H Rifle (air or smallbore)

11-13 year-olds

  • 3 guns - Rimfire rifle, Rimfire pistol/revolver, & Shotgun (.410 – 20 – 16 - 12)

14 and up

  • 3 guns – Rifle, revolver & shotgun
  • Rimfire OR Central-fire (.38 - .45 – etc.)

Western Heritage and Cowboy Shooting Contest

Dysart Memorial Shooting Complex in Marshall, Mo
September 7–8, 2019


  • Deadline is August 15, 2019 through 4-H Online.
  • $60 registration fee - Fee includes all noon and evening meals. Ammo provided for .22, .38, .45 & shotgun (12, 20, .410)
  • $10 — Per Meal cost (noon and evening) for parents, siblings, other guests. (When youth participant registers, there will be option to indicate guests – and pay for everyone…at time of youth registration. No adult or guest registration required.)

4-H Western Heritage project competition will consist of 3 areas. A 4-H member is expected to keep with "The Spirit of the Game" must compete in all 3 areas.

  • Cowboy Action Shooting - 50 percent
    • Timed event (quickest wins)
    • Steel targets (hit or miss)
    • Penalties given for misses, safety violations and procedural mistakes – which adds to the time.
    • Two divisions in Senior competition: Rimfire and Central-fire
  • Period Clothing/character development - 25 percent
  • Western Knowledge quiz/test - 25 percent

Warm-up & Workshop Details (PDF)

View resources

Past results