California Desperados

Day: February 15, 2021

CMSA Courses

The “course of fire” or pattern of riding is commonly referred to as a “stage” and should be designed for maximum enjoyment of competitors and spectators, while testing horsemanship and shooting skills. The safety of riders, spectators and horses is a principle concern.

The primary purpose of a stage is to provide a scoring grid that is fair for all contestants. A standard CMSA stage is to have ten targets.

A contestant is to shoot the course of fire with two single action revolvers with five CMSA approved cartridges in each revolver. Revolvers are used one at a time.

With the first revolver, a contestant shoots a random course of fire (the first half of the stage). This random course can be set in any safe manner.

Upon completing the random course, the contestant holsters the now empty revolver and draws the second revolver and rides to shoot the second half of the stage (called the “Rundown”).

The Rundown is standardized in all CMSA World Qualifying Matches. The Rundown is to have five targets to be completed in a fast, forward motion.

The final five targets must be set in such a way that horse and rider are challenged to shoot the targets at a maximum rate of speed, according to their ability.

It is specifically not the intention of the CMSA rules to penalize a fast horse and rider.

After completing the stage, the contestant must immediately report to the armorer and unload both revolvers.


  • A. Shoot the farthest light targets first
  • B. Shoot all the light targets 1st, before rounding the barrel
  • C. Shoot 5 of one color, round the barrel, shoot 5 of the other color
  • D. Stay on the outside of all the light targets
  • E. Pole Bend the light targets
  • F. Shoot 5, round the barrel, around the barrel, shoot 5
  • G. Shoot light target last, shoot dark target last
  • H. Shoot the entire Random course first, then round the Rundown barrel
  • I. Shoot all the light targets first.  Then shoot the dark targets.  You must round the barrel.


  • 1. Failure to shoot the targets in proper order
  • 2. Failure to shoot all of the correct targets before rounding the barrel
  • 3. Failure to round barrel    
  • 4. Failure to go through the gate
  • 5. Failure to follow the prescribed pattern


  • When in doubt, favor the rider
  • There is only ONE Procedure per stage
  • If a rider corrects his/her mistake, there is no procedure.

Legend Description

  • TTR 2-Target Rule: If two targets are burst by gunfire, of the same or different color, it will not be a miss, and poles do NOT have to be shot. The extra round may be used to pick off a missed target.
  • Gate Rule: Targets do NOT have to be shot going through a gate.  The rider must pass through a gate from either side. Horses’ entire body must pass through the gate, tails do not count.
  • Targets should be a minimum distance of  12’ from any barrel.
  • If a target must be set on top of a barrel, it may be shot going in or coming out of the barrel (this includes the rundown barrel).
  • Rounding a barrel: This does not mean crossing a path or a 360°
  • Full Barrel turn: Means crossing your path.
  • A rider may go back and round a barrel or pick up a gate to avoid a penalty.
  • The standard spacing for a Rundown Target is 36 feet.
  • A standard gate is 15 feet.
  • Rundown in a straight line may be shot from either side and maybe gone in between.
  • Targets may be shot in any order, from either side unless specifically noted.
  • An ideal arena is 300 feet by 100 feet. Distance between targets may be shortened to accommodate a smaller arena.
  • It is each club’s responsibility to insure arena safety. If, for any reason, a rider is concerned about the safety of an arena they should withdraw from the competition. Riders enter at their own risk.
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