Shooter Spotlight: McCandless

Welcome to our first shooter interview on the blog. So pull up a chair at the saloon everyone and lets have a chat with Doc McCandless!

What is your SASS Alias?


What is your SASS#?

25723 Life/Patron.

What is your SASS Home State?

Nawth Ca’lina.

Could you tell us about any websites or social media groups you would like to share?

I ride herd on several Facebook pages. They are all an outgrowth of a site I had for years back in the early 2000’s called the Old West Action Shootin’ Gallery. It became too labor intensive for the time I had. But, now it’s back for as long as God and FB will allow.

Great, I will list below all the groups you shared with me for the readers:

Cowboy Action Shooting Gallery

SASS and Cowboy Action Shooting

What’s the Call

Cowboy Action Shooters Feedback Forum

Guns of the Outlaws, Lawmen, Frontiersmen and Cowboys

One of the things that always interests me is the origin behind someone’s SASS alias. What can you tell us about yours?

Back when I was casting around for an alias, I decided I wanted something to go with someone who existed back in the period, who was also in the health care field. Eventually, I came across James Newton McCandless, who joined the army in 1863 as a lieutenant, an assistant surgeon. He was sent West to frontier outposts during the Indian Wars. Resigned after a firearms injury to his eyes. Settled in Prescott and practiced there, also developed a cathartic named the .45-90, because it went through you like a rifle shot!

While we are on the subject of origins, how did you get started in Cowboy Action Shooting?

I was in a gun store in 1998 and came across a sign behind the counter. I got talking with the person at the counter and it turned out he was a Cowboy Shooter called “Royal Barnes”. He invited me to a match. I went, and I’m still going.

What three things have kept you in the game?

The people, the competition, and pure stubbornness.

I am always curious to learn about the practice routines of other shooters. What is your regular system?

Mostly just shooting matches weekly, one shot drills, lately working hard on transitions. In good weather I set up a dry-fire range in the backyard and practice shooting stages from past matches, trying to better my times.

What Categories do you shoot at matches?

Age-based, Frontier Cartridge Duelist, and Frontiersman.

Some folks prefer helping with different jobs at a match, what about you?

I like to spot and R.O.

We first met through one of the Facebook groups you administer, S.A.S.S. and Cowboy Action Shooting. The page has exploded with hundreds of new members a week it seems. Did you ever think it would become so popular?

I expected us to top out at 100 or so members. I hope I’ve been able to present Cowboy Action Shooting to a lot of people who didn’t know it existed.

One of the questions I routinely see asked on the page is what firearms does everyone use? That being said, what are your favorite Cowboy Shootin’ Irons and why?

That’s a bit complicated… my favorite Irons are a pair of older, engraved Colts and an original Winchester ’73. The ones I shoot best with are a pair of large framed Ruger Vaqueros, a modified Uberti model ’73 and an SKB 200e.

What is your favorite Cowboy Action Shooting accoutrement(s) and why?

Hats. I’m a hatoholic. If D Bar J continues with their sales, I’m going to need a new room just to store hats.

Do you have any local, regional or state championships under your belt?

2019 NC State BP Championship, NC State Frontiersman Champion 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 Frontiersman, SE Regional Champion 2016 Frontiersman, 1st Place SC State BP Match 2013 Plainsman, 1st Place, SE Regional Match 2016 SE Regional Black Powder Championship, 1st Place Frontiersman 2009, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019 Frontiersman, NC State Champion 2008 Combined NC/SC Frontiersman Champion 2003 Raid on Andersonville, 1st Place Frontiersman 2004 Frontiersman. 1st Place VA State Championship 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 1st Place Frontiersman, SC State Championship

That's impressive list! Cowboy Action Shooting happens all over the country. What is your regular haunt for matches or favorite place to shoot?

NC and SC.

How would you describe Cowboy Action Shooting to me, if I knew nothing about it.

Got room for several paragraphs?? Let me just break it down as a fun time with good people. Like “BT Blade” first said, we “Come for the Shooting, stay for the people”.

To a new shooter, or prospective shooter reading this interview, what advice would you offer?

For those who haven’t bought anything yet, come on out to a match. See what we do, try out the different guns, see what fits you and your budget. Don’t be concerned with shooting fast. I rarely post videos of the fastest shooters on the site because most say, “I can’t do that”. Just come on out and shoot. Bring what you have or can afford. Just do it. Speed will come with time, or not, depending on how much time you are willing to put into it.

Ok, imagine we are all sitting around a campfire, telling war stories. Share with us your most memorable match.

It was my first Shootout at Mule Camp, SE Regional. Where I met some lifelong friends, shot off a moving drug-store rocking horse, shot at “Mongo”, a target that proved that there are targets so close and so big that you can still miss them.

Time for some non-Cowboy Shootin’ stuff! If you could have any one Superhero power, what would it be and why?

I already have it… I can annoy anybody, at any time!

James Lipton would ask a series of questions at the end of "Inside the Actor's Studio" show. Let’s give them a whirl.

Sounds good!

What is your favorite word?


What is your least favorite word?


What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

The moment of being “in the zone”, in tune with something I am attempting, or someone I am communicating with.

What turns you off?

People who come across as superior, somehow better than others, who feel that someone else is not worth talking to because they don’t “measure up”.

What is your favorite curse word?

None of them. But there is one that keeps falling out of my mouth when no one can hear.

What sound or noise do you love?


What sound or noise do you hate?


What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Leather Carving.

What profession would you not like to do?

Septic Maintenance.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“Well done.”

I would like to thank Doc McCandless for taking the time to chat with us at the Saloon. In addition, for his social media contributions to the sport by administering so many groups. If you're interested in joining us for a Shooter Spotlight or know someone who may be, please read about it here. See you on the trail!

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