The Northern Illinois Outlaws perform the increasingly popular sport of cowboy mounted shooting.

One of the nation’s fastest growing equine sports. The Northern Illinois Outlaws is affiliated with the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association. They will conduct a four-stage mounted shooting competition in the Pony Arena of the Boone County Fairgrounds. This family friendly sport is fun and exciting as a competitor or as a spectator.

Mounted contestants compete in this fast action event using two .45 caliber single-action revolvers similar to those used in the late 1800s by the American cowboys. Each gun is loaded with five rounds of specially prepared blank ammunition. Courses are set using ten balloon targets in specific patterns where the rider shoots the first five, holsters his/her gun, picks up the second gun and continues with the rest of the pattern.

Mounted shooting events are similar to other rodeo events like barrel racing and pole bending as they are a timed event. The courses are designed to test the rider’s ability to control their horse at various speeds and turns while successfully shooting each balloon

While speed is important, accuracy is equally as important for the competitor’s success. Penalties are added to their time for a downed barrel, missed balloon, or an improper course run. An average course takes between 15 and 25 seconds to complete.

Competitors are broken into divisions based on ability, age, and gender. A rider moves up in levels based on the number of qualified competitions they have won. The Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association has developed the rules and guidelines for this equestrian sport.

The Northern Illinois Outlaws Club has been runnin’ and gunnin’ around the northern portion of Illinois for 15 years. Club members range from five-years-old (our wranglers) to our seniors who are in their 70s. It is a family-friendly event with grandparents riding with grandchildren and best friends competing against each other. With the many different breeds of horses and the riders dressed in western gear (as outlined by the CMSA), this is an exciting, fast-paced sport to watch.

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Check out the mounted shooting excitement on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 9:30 a.m. in the Pony Arena.

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