American Zoot Shooters Association (AZSA) Rules
AZSA™ is a shooting sport where participants dress in costumes reflecting the 1920s-1940s and shoot period correct guns in competition. It is not the intent of AZSA’s founders to promote a sport that necessarily tests a shooter’s skills more than it is to get like-minded, good people together, in a safe environment, role playing a time in United States history. AZSA is still a competition with winners and losers but there will be less emphasis placed on difficult marksmanship and more placed on fun.
Shooting is a potentially dangerous sport and should be treated as such! The most important aspect of AZSA is safety! Below is a small list of rules that must be followed at all times during the course of an AZSA match. Any safety violation will result in disqualification (DQ) from an AZSA match. Subsequent safety violations can result in loss of AZSA membership! Any DQ may be disputed amongst the shooter, Range Officer (RO) and Match Director. The Match Director makes the final decision in a shooter’s DQ.
1. All participants must be familiar with NRA Gun Safety Rules
2. All participants must complete a safety class prior to shooting their first match.
3. Eye and ear protection must be worn at all times! This includes spectators.
4. All AZSA matches shall be conducted on a “cold range”. On a “cold range”, no firearms may be loaded until the shooter is at the loading table, preparing to shoot a caper. At the end of the caper, the shooter must clear all weapons and “show clear” to the Range Officer (RO). No shooter may handle a firearm outside of a designated safety area unless instructed to do so by the RO. Handguns may be carried in a holster, unloaded with the hammer down. All handguns and long guns must be stored unloaded, in a safe manner, until at to the loading table.
5. The point at which a shooter is downrange defines 180 degrees. If a shooter’s muzzle breaks the 180 degree mark (the muzzle is pointed 1 degree up-range), it is a match DQ.
6. If a shooter fires a gun deemed unsafe by the RO, it is considered an accidental discharge (AD). An AD is a match DQ. To avoid AD DQs the shooter must keep his finger off of the trigger until a target is engaged. The shooter cannot have his finger in the trigger guard moving between target arrays or during reloads. The RO may call “trigger” to warn a shooter of an infraction. If the RO feels it is necessary to DQ a shooter because of too many “trigger” calls he may do so.
7. Any pistol and rifle rounds fired from an elevated gun that leave the range will result in an automatic match DQ! All pistol and rifle rounds must never leave the range and should always impact a berm or a safe backstop.
8. A shooter that crosses the path of a gun’s muzzle with a human body part is referred to as “sweeping”. Any shooter that sweeps himself or another person will be DQ’d!
9. AZSA is a multiple gun sport. Based on course design, guns may be abandoned during a “caper”. It is permitted to abandon a gun without unloading it first, host clubs are expected to design capers in such a way that this can be done and provide a safe area to do so. Abandoned guns must be left in a safe condition (action open or closed with safety engaged .) After a caper is complete, the shooter must retrieve all abandoned guns and unload them under the direction of the RO. No other persons may be downrange during this action.
Loading tables are recommended as a way to safely speed up a match. This table should be staffed by a member of the mob who is not preparing to shoot. Loading tables must be placed in such a location that firearms placed on this table are pointed in a safe direction (into a side berm or downrange where no one will walk in front of them.) The on deck shooter preparing his firearms to shoot the caper will use this table to load each firearm under the direction of the loading table officer. No loaded firearms may leave this table except to move to the line under the direction of the RO. All lever, pump, semi auto and full automatic firearms originally equipped with a manual safety (before 1950) may, if the shooter wishes, be loaded with a round in the chamber and the safety engaged at this table. Other long guns may have a loaded magazine only and must be staged in this same condition. Double action revolvers may be fully loaded and all single action revolvers must be downloaded with an empty chamber under the hammer (including those equipped with a hammer block.)
AZSA is a costuming sport. All AZSA shooting participants MUST wear a costume! Costumes may not hinder a shooter’s ability to safely handle a gun or participate in any way at an AZSA match (ladies, if your costume includes high heel shoes and it is unsafe to wear them, please exchange them before you shoot a caper). Guns and holsters are part of a shooter’s costume. Please make an honest attempt to assure that your equipment looks authentic. No modern athletic shoes or race-type holsters! A shooter’s costume may reflect any type of person from the 1920s-1940s. Shooters should use character names and AZSA members must have them. A registered character name may only go to one AZSA member. No variations of character names will be accepted if it is already in use by another AZSA member. AZSA is not a military reenactment sport. Think…“cops and robbers”. If military uniforms are used they must reflect a prohibition era enforcement action preformed by military personnel (eg, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Mexican Federales or US Coast Guard).
Guns and Ammunition – Period Correct Principle & Ten Foot Rule
Any .30 caliber or larger caliber pistol, .30 caliber or larger pistol cartridge firing rifle (or straight cased rifle rounds; eg, .351 Winchester) and 20 gauge or larger shotgun produced before 1949 or replica of such may be used as main match guns in AZSA matches. Remember, this is a 1920s-1940s costuming sport and the AZSA has a principle of being period correct but a ten foot rule applies. A general check for adhering to the period correct principle is that the gun looks correct from ten feet away. We do not feel there is a need to scrutinize a shooter’s gun unless it has been modified to a point where it does not properly reflect the time period or it lends a competitive advantage to the shooter.
Any manufacture of single stack 1911 or 1911A1 handgun may be used. Modern “tactical” modifications such as oversized, ramped, painted dot or fiber optic sights (adjustable sights are permitted), extended slide releases, oversized and ambidextrous magazine releases and safeties, extended magazines and base pads, enlarged magazine wells (frame filing excluded), skeletal hammers, cross-drilled triggers, compensators and extended beaver tail or controls are not permitted.
Any type of Thompson rifle (including rifles such as M1s, M1A1s and Commandos) and its corresponding magazine may be used. Full-auto and SBR semi-auto rifles are welcome if they are legally registered and the host range permits their use.
Jacketed ammunition is permitted providing the host club allows its use. Handgun ammunition must not exceed 1,200 fps. Rifle ammunition must not exceed 1,400 fps (factory M1 Carbine rounds have a muzzle velocity of 1990 fps and may not be used in main match capers.). Shotguns may only fire lead, light trap or field loads at designated steel targets. Special shot or target arrangements may be made for unusual range requirements. All guns and loading devices must be of their period correct profile and may be loaded to their correct magazine capacity prior to 1950 (eg, no base pads).
Gangsters and the law enforcement officers who pursued them were some of the first people to make tactical modifications to factory firearms designs. AZSA would like to encourage these sorts of historically correct firearm modifications among our shooters. The shortening of long guns was the most common of period modifications, a word of warning is in order here, please don’t modify firearms to the point where they no longer comply with the applicable state and federal regulations. Extended long gun magazines were also very common. Extended shotgun magazine tubes are the most common modifications but extended rifle box magazines, both permanently attached and detachable have been documented in this time period. Attaching vertical fore grips to long guns such as the Lehman 1907 Winchester was also very popular. No shotgun speed loading devices are allowed at AZSA matches. Safety may not be compromised in any way by these sorts of modifications. A very common police revolver modification of the time, the “Fitz Special” included among other things removing the front of the trigger guard. While these guns are fine historically correct firearms, this sort of modification is unsafe in a competitive shooting environment. Removal of any part of the trigger guard on any firearm used in AZSA matches is not allowed.
Matches may include any 1949 or older (replicas included) “guest guns” of any caliber in their caper designs so long as every match participant uses it. These guns must be made familiar to any participant before its use. Guest guns may exceed ammunition requirements and must always be used in a safe manner (eg, do not shoot a .30-06 rifle at close range steel targets!)
A goal of the AZSA is to encourage new shooters. Local club matches may relax the ten foot rule at local club matches only and allow new shooters to use non-conforming guns. New shooters should be encouraged to bring correct firearms to future matches. Also, new shooters may be allowed to use smaller caliber guns (eg, .22 rimfire) until they feel comfortable and switch to larger calibers specified in the rules. To be fair to the other shooters complying with the rules, the scores of the shooters with non-compliant guns should be noted separately in the match results.
Any type of period correct holster may be worn for the use of carrying a handgun by AZSA participants. Holsters must be made of a period correct material. Non conforming holsters (nylon and plastic) may be used at the club level only as a way of encouraging new shooters. Because some costumes, such as a flapper’s dress, may not be appropriate for the use of a holster or magazine pouches, all capers must have provisions for un-holstered handgun(s) and extra magazines to be used during the course of fire. Handguns drawn from a holster may not violate the 180 rule. This may require shooters drawing from cross draw or shoulder holsters to turn their body in such a way that the draw may be completed safely. No handgun may be re-holstered during a caper.
AZSA matches incorporate multiple stages which will be referred to as “capers”. Capers have designated points from which shooters start and then engage targets by a specified course of direction as quickly as possible until that shooter is finished or stopped by the RO. Shooters can compete in three divisions, Pistol, Rifle-Pistol and Rifle-Pistol-Shotgun. Separate Ladies divisions should also be provided. All divisions will shoot the same capers in the same manner.
Unsportsmanlike behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Any AZSA participant may report specific actions to the match director for consideration as to unsportsmanlike conduct. Only the match director may reprimand or DQ a shooter for this behavior. It is at their complete discretion.
1. AZSA will utilize USPSA™ cardboard targets and large steel targets until it develops its own.
2. Steel targets cannot be engaged at a distance of less than 7 yards.
3. Pistol targets may not be placed in such a way that they must be engaged beyond 10 yards. Rifle and shotgun targets should not be engaged beyond 20 yards.
4. Pistols may only be fired with one hand unless it is to engage longer distance targets intended for long guns. New shooters may be allowed to use a support hand until they are comfortable using only one.
5. No target shall be obscured by more than 50%. Targets may be covered by walls or props, painted to simulate partial cover or by opposite colored targets.
6. Moving targets are permitted in AZSA matches with the exception of “The Texas Star”. Moving targets must be set-up using the same guidelines as non-moving targets. Moving targets are always to be considered as bonus targets.
7. Targets should be arranged in such a way that all rounds fired will impact a berm or safe backstop. Depending on the circumstances the ground is typically not considered a safe backstop.
8. A shooter’s direction may be guided by the use of walls or paths laid upon the ground. Walls and paths are boundaries that a shooter must stay within during the caper. Any shot fired outside of these boundaries will result in a penalty added to the shooter’s score. Barriers may be placed for safety considerations. These barriers may limit how close a shooter is to engage a steel target. In these situations, the RO may deem a shot fired outside these barriers as a safety violation that will result in a match DQ. Walls and props are considered impenetrable. If it is determined that a shot hitting a target passed through an object considered impenetrable, it is a miss.
9. A caper design may not change after the start of a match unless it is cleared with the Match Director.
10. The RO has total control of a caper. The RO tells a shooter when and how to make his guns ready. The RO gives the start command by the sound of a shot timer’s signal. The RO follows behind the shooter recording the shots with the timer. The RO must remain in a safe location that does not interfere with the shooter. The RO may stop a shooter at any time for any reason. At the end of a caper the RO is responsible for scoring all of the shooter’s targets. The score keeper may follow the RO and shooter to watch for penalties. The score keeper must be careful not to interfere with the RO or the shooter.
11. Any interference to the shooter that is out of his control and results in a score that he finds to be unsatisfactory will result in a re-shoot of that particular caper.
12. Shooters may perform “New York Reloads” during a caper. The same provisions for holster less participants may be used by other shooters who choose to use more than one gun during a caper. Loaded guns may be left by the shooter throughout the caper. After starting with one gun, a shooter may replace it with another provided it is abandoned in a safe condition and left pointed in a safe direction so the muzzle will never cross the path of any person or the RO when moving downrange and returning to the start position.
13. Because of the nature of older firearms and their tendency to malfunction, a shooter may re-shoot any single caper per match and ONLY if a firearm malfunction is experienced during that caper. This is referred to as “The Mulligan Rule” and it must be enacted before his group completes the caper in question. Only one Mulligan per shooter per match, choose your re-shoots wisely!
14. Caper designers may specify that certain tasks be performed as part of successfully completing a caper. For example, the shooter may be instructed to pick up and carry a money bag from point A to point B. A failure to complete this task will result in a procedural penalty as described below unless more severe penalties are described in the caper design.
1. All capers are scored by time and penalties.
2. A shooter’s time starts at the sound of a shot timer’s signal and ends with the last shot fired.
3. Failure to follow caper direction will result in a procedural penalty for every shot fired during the infraction. Procedural penalties are typically shots fired while a boundary has been crossed, targets are engaged in an order not specified by a caper’s design or a specific task has not been performed. Each procedural penalty will result in five seconds added to the shooters time.
4. Each missed target adds a ten second penalty to the score.
5. Steel targets need not fall to be considered hit. An audible “ding” on a steel target is considered a hit. The RO has the final say in a steel target hit or miss.
6. Targets deemed no shoot targets by caper design must not be shot. A hit on a no shoot target is a five second penalty. Targets are not hard cover! Rounds that pass through any target may impact additional scoring or no shoot targets. A scoring hit on a scoring target will be considered engaged and properly scored and hits on no shoot targets will incur additional penalties.
7. Any single hit on an USPSA™ target is considered engaged. The highest ranking hit on the target is the only one considered. A hit in the “A” or “B” zone is the best hit and does not affect the shooters score. A hit in the “C” zone is second best and adds a one second penalty to the shooter’s score. A “D” zone hit adds a three second penalty to the shooters score. A partial hit that does not break or touch the outermost target perforation is considered a miss (questionable partial hits are scored in favor of the shooter). A hit that lies upon a zone border perforation is scored on the highest zone it touches. Caper design may require targets to be engaged multiple times; in that event, the highest ranking hits of the specified number will be scored. A shooter may engage a target as often as he likes until a desired hit is reached.
8. Targets defined as bonus targets which may include moving targets and caper specified difficult targets, will score as time deductions. Bonus times are up to the caper designer’s discretion and will be announced in the caper description. Bonus targets represent a higher level of difficulty and should have appropriately higher scoring values.
9. After all targets have been scored, the total of all penalties and/or bonuses, if any, are added to or subtracted from the shooter’s time. The score keeper, that assists the RO, records the score on an AZSA score sheet.
10. At match completion the shooters’ caper scores are added together. The shooter with the lowest total score is the match winner. The next highest score is second place and so forth.
The AZSA has established side matches and local clubs may also hold fun or side matches and can use any era correct guns that fail to qualify as main match guns.
Established side matches (these may be further subdivided as necessary)
Rifle caliber rifle
Pistol caliber rifle
Belly Guns: Handguns with a 3 inch barrel or less.
Snubby: main match handguns
Vest pocket pistol: less than .30 caliber
Local Club Formation
The formation of AZSA clubs is the best way to expand our organization. Additional clubs allow for people to get involved in Zoot Shooters on a local level without the need to travel to participate in our sport. To start, we require at least one member of the new club join Zoot Shooters. We would like for everyone in the new club to join but we do not demand it.
To date all of our existing clubs were formed by people participating in other disciplines such as USPSA, SASS™, IDPA™, and many more. They already had access to a range that hosts action shooting sports. These ranges typically have established clubs that have targets and props. Having the same will be much easier starting an AZSA club. Incorporating members in a new club that have action shooting sports experience will make things safer as well. These people can act as range officers, caper designers as well as hold safety meetings and provide safe gun handling instruction.
If it looks like there is the makings for a new club, make up a name and contact us with as much information as the club is willing to share on the web. New AZSA clubs can use what is already on the website’s CLUBS page as a guide. The AZSA will then post your club’s information and make announcements elsewhere (facebook™, twitter™ and forums). The AZSA will do as much as we can to drive potential participants to the new club.
This is AZSA’s current rule set. The rules will change as time passes. Any member of AZSA can make rule change recommendations at any time. Final rule revisions will be made after a majority vote by the AZSA’s board of directors. Any changes made to AZSA rules will be noted on its website. The version numbers associated with our rules have meaning. The first digit is a major change. Everyone should pay attention when this number increases. The second digit is a minor change that still affects the way our sport is played. Please note minor changes at your club to be sure you are following our rules. The third digit is a change to the rules that does not affect play. These changes will be items such as spelling or grammar.
January 29th, 2017
American Zoot Shooters Association, LLC