A Glossary of Sweeps

A "sweep" in Cowboy Action Shooting is a slang term to describe sequence of target engagement. Some sweeps are very common and well known, for example, the Nevada sweep. However, there are dozens of lesser known sweeps that may be specific to a region or club, or may have just fallen into obscurity. For the purpose of reference and enjoyment here is a list of sweeps compiled by Crooked River Bob that was published in the Cowboy Chronicle in 2005 (some revisions and additions have been made since the original article). These are great for reference if you are writing stages or just want to practice different patterns. A PDF is included here if you'd like to print a copy for your gun cart.

Targets are numbered from left to right. Multiple 
shots on a single target are indicated by repeating that target’s number. Note: many of these are similar or duplicates that go by alternate names.

Abilene Sweep:
Named after Abilene (SASS#27489, TX), who posted it on the SASS Wire. Nine shots on five targets, 1-2-2-3-3-3-2-2-1. This might also be described as a Progressive Nevada Sweep

Amigo’s Sweep:
Suggested on the SASS Wire by Wallaby Jack (SASS#44062, NSW, Australia). “…the whole stage is set up with a target array of ONE target.” See also Missouri Sweep and Texas Sweep

Arizona Sweep:
From Old Scout (SASS# 323, CA). “Progressively place one more round on each target.” Ten shots on four plates, in the following order: 1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-4-4. Also known as a Progressive Sweep, and sometimes as a Montana Sweep or a Lawrence Welk Sweep

Arkansas Shuffle:
Attributed to West Creek Willie (SASS#33394, IL). Five shots on three targets, engaged as 1-1-2-3-3. Compare to the Idaho Shuffle

Bad Jack Abernathy Sweep:
Described on the SASS Wire by A. D. Texaz (SASS#16339, TX). Nine shots on four targets, 1-1-4-2-2-4-3-3-4. 

Badger Sweep:
Attributed to Badger, SASS#3361. See the Cowboy Chronicle, September 2003, page 42. Old Scout (SASS# 323, CA) describes it as “Successive sweeps, firing one less shot on each sweep.” Ten shots on four targets, 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-1-2-1. Also called a Solitaire Sweep. Compare to the Miakka Sweep

Boss Hayes Sweep:
This name was provided by Bird Dawg Dan (SASS#59914, CA). Same as the Poverty Sweep, with ten shots on four targets: 1-2-3-4-2-3-4-3-4-4. 

Brat Sweep: Mentioned on the SASS Wire by Penny Wrangler (SASS#50750, UT). Five shots on three targets, 1-3-2-3-1. In a later post, Moe Greens (SASS#53755, UT) indicated the Brat Sweep “…goes 1-3-2-3-1, or 3-1-2-1-3.” Either way, it’s another variation of Five on Three

Cactus Buck Sweep: Submitted to the SASS Wire by A. D. Texaz (SASS#16339, TX). Ten shots on four targets. 1-1-1-2-2-3-3-4-4-4. Same as the Palindrome Sweep

Cajon Sweep:
From Old Scout (SASS# 323, CA). Five consecutive shots on a single target, 1-1-1-1-1. Cowboy action shooters in general have a lot of fun with this one, and it is humorously known by a variety of names in various parts of the country. For example, Mustang Gregg (SASS#38345, NE) and Cuts Crooked (SASS#36914, “Midwest”) called it the Nebraska Sweep, while Curly McCrae (SASS#27784, MI) called it a California Sweep. R.B. Rooson (SASS#16974, TX) called it the Paradise Pistolero Sweep. Johnny the Kid (SASS#22917, FL) identified it as the Hatbill Sweep. Wire Paladin (SASS#5954, OR) suggested calling this the Chicago Sweep, saying “…you just dump all the rounds of one gun on one target.” 

California Sweep: From Old Scout (SASS# 323, CA). “Every other shot must be on the first target. The remaining shots will form a sweep.” His example suggested eight shots on five targets, 1-2-1-3-1-4-1-5. See also Hermit Joe Sweep

Chatanika Sweep:
Submitted by Brasspounder (SASS#9076, AK), who suggested “Five pistol or rifle targets, arranged at varying distances and heights… Shooting sequence goes thus: 3, 2, 4, 1, 5.” Compare to the Ozark Sweep

Chimney Sweep: From Piney Woods (SASS#29887, NH), who said, “Stack three targets one above the other (numbered 1-2-3 from top to bottom for ease of description) and shoot them 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1… that’s right, up and down, up and down.” Think of a Continuous Nevada Sweep with a vertical orientation. 

Continuous Nevada Sweep: Generally ten shots on four targets, 1-2-3-4-32-1-2-3-4. Same as the Idaho Sweep and the Zig-Zag

Delta Glen Sweep: Authored by Delta Glen (SASS#39197, FL). Ten shots on three targets, 1-2-2-3-2-2-1-2-2-3, or 3-2-2-1-2-2-3-2-2-1. Similar to the Continuous Nevada Sweep, except you double-tap the center target on every pass. 

Desperado Sweep:
This name was suggested by Grampaw Willie (SASS#26996, MI), who indicated that this sweep was authored by Midnite Desperado (SASS#4321, IN). Ten shots on five targets, 1-2-2-3-3-3-3-4-4-5. 

Diablo Sweep:
From Will E. Doo (SASS#63695, Australia). Ten shots on six targets, 1-2-2-3-4-4-5-6-6-6. Will E. Doo said, “Starting from left or right, sweep the targets – single tap, double tap, single tap, double tap, single tap, triple tap… Good fun for gunfighters & others alike.” Compare to the Lake City Sweep or Gorilla Sweep

Doc’s Sweep: From Doc Shapiro, (SASS# 31526, CA). “Shoot a bank of 5 targets in the following order: 1-4-2-5-3 and repeat.” 

Double Tap: Two consecutive shots at the same target. 

Double Tap Sweep: As described by Hellgate (SASS#3302, OR) on the SASS Wire, “Sweep the targets but each is double tapped before going to the next target.” For example, ten shots on five targets, 1-1-2-2-3-3-4-4-5-5. 

Firelands Sweep: From Rye Miles (SASS#13621, OH). Ten shots on four targets, 1-4-2-3-1-4-2-3-1-4. 

Five on Three: Literally, five shots on three targets, with the exact order at the discretion of the shooter. Examples might be 1-2-3-3-3, or 1-2-2-2-3, or… 

Fort White Sweep:
From Fort White, Florida. Five shots on three targets, starting and ending in the center: 2-1-2-3-2. Shoot the center target, then sweep all three from left to right, then shoot the center target again. Same as the Hoptoad Shuffle, and one of the many variations of Five on Three. 

Gorilla Sweep: Suggested by Waldo Astoria on the SASS Wire. Nine shots on six targets, 1-1-2-3-3-4-5-5-6. Same as the Lake City Sweep

Hatbill Sweep:
Brought to our attention by Johnny the Kid (SASS#22917, FL) and attributed to Colonel Dan (SASS#24025, FL). Johnny the Kid described it as “One target, and place all five shots thereon…” See also the Cajon Sweep and the Nebraska Sweep

Hermit Joe Sweep: From Piney Woods (SASS#29887, NH), who said it was “… named after its creator.” In his words, “Take six rifle targets and shoot them 1-2-1-3-1-4-1-5-1-6 and you’ve done it.” Compare to the California Sweep

Hooten Sweep:
Cherokee Big Dog (SASS#17531, KY) said, “The Hooten Sweep ain’t a sweep a’tall. Set the number of targets equal to the number of shots and tell ‘em to engage ‘em once each, but don’t sweep ‘em.” As an example, Cherokee Big Dog suggested a sequence of 1-2-3-5-4, indicating there are “dozens of other variations” but the critical element is that the shooter “breaks up the ascending or descending sweep.” 

Hoptoad Shuffle: Brought to our attention by Jim Bowdrie (SASS#55924, IL). Five shots on three targets, 2-1-2-3-2 or 2-3-2-1-2. The odd numbered shots are all on the center target. Same as the Fort White Sweep, the Inside-Outside, and the Sassie Sue Sweep

Idaho Shuffle: Suggested by Gold Canyon Kid (SASS#43974, AZ), who said he “shot this up at the Great Northern…” The sequence is 1-3-1-2-3, with five shots on three targets. Compare to the Arkansas Shuffle

Idaho Sweep: From Hellgate (SASS#3302, OR). Ten shots on four targets, 1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4. Hellgate described it as “… over & back & over again,” with no double taps. In a later post, Hellgate added that the Idaho Sweep is “Sometimes called a Continuous Nevada Sweep.” Grampaw Willie (SASS#26996, MI) called this a Zig-Zag

Indiana Sweep: Five shots on three targets, 2-2-1-2-3 or 2-2-3-2-1. Doc Molar (SASS#18470, IN) came up with this one, and said, “3 targets, you start by double tapping the center target and then sweep across all three targets from either direction, for 5 [rounds].” He added that if you are “…doing this as a rifle sequence you just do it twice.” 

Inside-Outside: This name was provided by Ranger Buffa Lowe (SASS#39172, BC, Canada). Five shots on three targets: 2-1-2-3-2. Identical to the Fort White Sweep, the Hoptoad Shuffle, and the Sassie Sue Sweep.

IRS Sweep: On the SASS Wire, Hellgate (SASS#3302, OR) said “IRS Sweep: 1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-4-4 … originally we had … low, medium, high, and even higher target stands to simulate higher income brackets where the highest (#4) got hit harder as in tax brackets.” Similar to the Arizona Sweep or Progressive Sweep

Jackrabbit Sweep: Authored by Delta Glen (SASS#39197, FL). Sweep the odd-numbered targets from left to right, then return sweeping the even-numbered targets from right to left. Five shots on five targets: 1-3-5-4-2. Nine shots on nine targets: 1-3-5-7-9-8-6-4-2. 

John Kerry Sweep: Submitted by Mack Hacker (SASS#60477, TX). Described as “Far right, far left… Repeat as necessary.” 

John Wayne Sweep: From Fillmore Coffins (SASS#7884, CA), who submitted this on the SASS Wire. He described it as “Simple. Three targets, 10 rounds. The order is: 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 3.” Similar to the Ruskin Sweep, but with a double tap on the last target. 

Kansas Sweep: Submitted by Chain Blue (SASS#50574, KS), who described it as “Three rifle targets ten rounds in rifle… double tap t1 t2 t3 then single tap 2, 1, 2, 3…” Ten rounds, three targets: 1-1-2-2-3-3-2-1-2-3. 

Kansas City Sweep: The source for this one was Grizzly Skinner (SASS#23242, RI). Essentially a Nevada Sweep done with double taps. Ten shots on three targets, 1-1-2-2-3-3-2-2-1-1. 

Lake City Sweep: We can credit Florida cowboys Delta Glen (SASS#39197) and Jesse Toothpick (SASS#41358) for this one. Nine shots on six targets, 1-1-2-3-3-4-5-5-6. Double tap the odd-numbered targets, and single tap the even numbered targets. Same as the Gorilla Sweep

Lawrence Welk Sweep: As suggested by Prof. Fuller Bullspit (SASS#57421, CA) and Ivory Jack McCloud (SASS#8534, CA). Requires ten shots on four targets, 1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-4-4. Same as the Arizona Sweep, the IRS Sweep, or Progressive Sweep

Lazy Sweep: In a post on the SASS Wire, Done Gone (SASS#49052, CA) said “I’ve heard reference to a Lazy Sweep. One where you double tapped the last target.” Five shots on three targets, 1-2-3-3-2. 

Lousiana Swing: From the SASS Wire, submitted by Possum Skinner (SASS#60697, LA). Five targets are arranged in a “V” shape with the apex of the “V” (target #3) nearest the shooter, and the arms of the “V” extending back and out to the left and right. Six shots on five plates, 3-4-5-3-2-1.

Miakka Sweep: From an article by El Tigre Viejo, SASS#28083, on page 80 of the June 2004 Cowboy Chronicle. The author says, “In the Miakka Sweep, the shooter starts at the right target of four in a row and makes a continuous right to left sweep, dropping the target furthest to the left each time so that the last of the ten shots is on the target where he began.” Ten shots on four targets, 4-3-2-1-4-3-2-4-3-4. Same as the Badger Sweep, but shot from the opposite direction 

Missouri Sweep: From Shoshone Slim (SASS# 31347, MO), who described it as “… all shots into one target.” This appears to mean all shots for the entire stage, same as for the Amigo’s Sweep and the Texas Sweep

Missouri Hillbilly Sweep: Posted by Missouri Marshal (SASS#50682, VA). Ten shots on four targets, 1-1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1-1. Think of this as a Nevada Sweep, but with double taps on the end targets. Missouri Marshal also described an abbreviated version for the revolver, requiring six shots on four targets: 1-1-2-3-4-4. 

Montana Sweep: This name was submitted by Tequila Vaquero (SASS#4624). Ten rounds on four targets, 1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-4-4. Also known as the Arizona Sweep and the Progressive Sweep

Mustang Sweep: Suggested by Mustang Gregg (SASS#38345, NE) on the SASS Wire. Ten shots on five targets, 1-1-1-2-1-3-1-4-1-5. Mustang Gregg indicated this is a good sweep for Gunfighters, L-R-L-R-L-R-L-R-L-R. 

Nebraska Sweep: Also from Mustang Gregg (SASS#38345, NE). All shots on one target. 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1. Another version of the Cajon Sweep

Nevada Sweep: Originated by Beans (SASS#316, NV), and sometimes described as “the most common of cowboy sweeps.” In a post on the SASS Wire, Beans said, “… it is always meant to be shot left to right unless the stage directions state [otherwise].” The Nevada Sweep always requires an odd number of rounds, and involves sweeping from one end of the row of targets to the other and back without double-tapping. Five shots on three targets, 1-2-3-2-1. Seven shots on four targets, 1-2-3-4-3-2-1. Nine shots on five targets, 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1. 

Ohio Sweep: From Rye Miles (SASS#13621, OH), who said “Split Rail from Tusco Longriders thought it up and I named it.” Five shots on three targets, 1-2-1-2-3. 

Oklahoma Sweep: Submitted by McCandless (SASS#25723). In a post on the SASS Wire, he said “… an Oklahoma Sweep was simply shooting four targets with eight rounds, sweep from the left (1-2-3-4) then return sweep from the right (4-3-2-1) double tapping the fourth target.” See also Wyoming Sweep

Oregon Sweep: From Wire Paladin (SASS#5954, OR). Nine rifle rounds on five targets, 1-1-1-2-3-4-5-5-5. 

Oregon Trail Sweep: Also from Wire Paladin (SASS#5954, OR). Ten shots on five targets, 1-1-1-2-3-3-4-5-5-5. Same as the Oregon Sweep except for a double tap on the middle target. 

Ozark Sweep: From Red River Ralph (SASS#49760, AR). Ten shots on five targets, first 1-5-2-4-3, then 3-2-4-1-5. Red River Ralph suggested using two revolvers for this. Compare to the Chatanika Sweep

Palindrome Sweep: Submitted by Palindrome (SASS#54445, WA), who credited the Black River Regulators for this sweep. Ten shots on four targets, 1-1-1-2-2-3-3-4-4-4. Palindrome said, “Triple tap the first, double tap the second and third, triple tap the fourth. Shot from either direction, of course.” Same as the Cactus Buck Sweep. However, a palindrome is defined as “…a word or sentence which reads the same backward as it does forward” (The Winston Dictionary, 1943), and a number of sweeps fit this description. Deadly Sharpshooter (SASS#35828, FL) wrote an entire stage comprised of “Palindrome Sweeps,” which could be shot from either direction. For the handguns, he suggested ten shots on seven targets: 1-2-2-3-4-4-5-6-6-7. Double-tap all the even numbered targets, which makes a good sweep for Gunfighters. For the rifle, he indicated nine shots on five targets: 1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-5 (compare to the Desperado Sweep, which is also a “palindrome”). The shotgun would engage three targets with four shots: 1-2-2-3. 

Peddler Sweep: From Peddler Parsons (SASS#31281, MO). Ten shots on five targets, starting from the left: 1-3-5-2-4-5-3-1-4-2. 

Pendulum Sweep: The writer has heard this name applied both to the Nevada Sweep and to the Oklahoma Sweep, which differ according to whether a single shot or a double tap is employed on the last target in the row. This illustrates the importance of writing out the exact shooting sequence in each stage description, whether the “sweep” is named or not. 

Possum Skinner Sweep: Described on the SASS Wire by Possum Skinner (SASS#60697, LA). Ten shots on four targets. Possum Skinner said, “Using both pistols shoot 3 cowboys 3 times each, then put 10th round on circle.” This instruction is gunfighter-friendly, and gives the shooters some choices. 

Poverty Sweep: From Poverty Bill (SASS#45790, MT). Ten shots on four targets: 1-2-3-4-2-3-4-3-4-4. Also known as a Boss Hayes Sweep. Compare to the Badger Sweep

Presidio Sweep: Posted on the SASS Wire by Presidio (SASS#40582, TX). Intended for the shotgun, this requires six shots on four targets: 1-2-3-2-3-4. The targets on the far left and far right are knockdowns, while the two center targets are evidently plates or swingers. Presidio added that knockdowns “…must go down to be counted and [targets must] be shot in order before going to the next target in numerical sequence.” 

Progressive Nevada Sweep: This interesting sweep was submitted to the SASS Wire by Abilene (SASS#27489, TX), who described a sequence of 1-2-2-3-3-3-2-2-1, but just called it “progressive from left.” We took the liberty of calling it the “Progressive Nevada Sweep” because it combines the increasing multiple taps of the Progressive Sweep with direction reversal as in the Nevada Sweep. However, the Abilene Sweep might be a better choice, in recognition of the individual who suggested it. 

Progressive Sweep: As suggested by Cliffhanger (SASS#3720, CA) and Grampaw Willie (SASS#26996, MI). Ten shots on four targets, 1-2-2-3-33-4-4-4-4. Same as the Arizona Sweep and the Montana Sweep

Rainbow Loop: From Old Scout (SASS# 323, CA). Hard to describe without a picture, but this involves three targets arranged in a triangle. The point of the triangle is nearest the shooter (target #1), with the other two targets farther back and to the left (#2) and right (#3). Engage the front target first, then the left rear, then the right rear, then the front. Keep going around in this fashion for the specified number of rounds, ending up where you started. For example, seven rounds on three targets, 1-2-3-1-2-3-1. 

Ruskin Sweep: Brought to our attention by Take Aim (SASS#39434, FL). Nine rounds on three targets, 1-2-3-3-2-1-1-2-3. Compare to the John Wayne Sweep

San Juan Sweep: Described on page 74 of the July 2004 issue of the Cowboy Chronicle, in an article by Palaver Pete (SASS#4375). This sweep was attributed to San Juan (SASS#1776, CO), and involves ten shots on four targets, 1-1-2-1-2-3-1-2-3-4. Think of sweeping repeatedly from left to right, adding one target with every pass. 

Sassie Sue Sweep: Submitted by Grampaw Willie (SASS#26996, MI), who described it as five shots on three targets, “middle, left, middle, right, middle,” or 2-1-2-3-2. This is identical to the Fort White Sweep, the Hoptoad Shuffle, and the Inside-Outside

Solitaire Sweep: Suggested by Doc Silverfinger (SASS# 3444) and Cliffhanger (SASS#3720, CA). Ten shots on four targets, 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-12-1. Also known as a Badger Sweep

Strider Sweep: From Strider (SASS#47548, FL). Ten shots on five targets, 3-2-1-2-3-3-4-5-4-3. You can think of this as two consecutive five-shot Nevada sweeps, one to the left and the other to the right, both beginning on the middle target. Works well for rifle or two sixguns. Watch out for that double tap on the center target! 

Texas Sweep: Submitted by Gold Canyon Kid (SASS#43974, AZ). He described it as “… all shots from every gun into one Texas size target.” Same as the Amigo’s Sweep and the Missouri Sweep

32/32 Sweep: This name was suggested by Grampaw Willie (SASS#26996, MI), who attributed the sweep to Sassie Sue (SASS#15005, IN). Ten shots on four targets, 1-1-1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4. 

Tough Hombre Sweep: Submitted by Grampaw Willie (SASS#26996, MI). Five shots on three targets, 2-2-1-3-2. Grampaw Willie described it this way: “P2 represents the baddest, meanest, most dangerous adversary. Hit P2 twice then take care of his henchmen: P1, P3. Then come back and finish off Old Tougher than Leather: 5th shot on P2.” 

Triple Tap: Three consecutive shots on one target. 

Wyoming Sweep: Brought to our attention by Piney Woods (SASS#29887, NH). His example used ten rounds on five targets, 1-2-3-4-5-5-4-3-2-1. Essentially the same as the Oklahoma Sweep. See also Pendulum Sweep

Zig-Zag: Suggested by Grampaw Willie (SASS#26996, MI). Ten shots on four targets, 1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4. An alternate name for the Continuous Nevada Sweep or Idaho Sweep.

A Glossary of Sweeps [download the PDF]


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