The Art of Character Construction for the Cowboy Action Shooter

As an actor, I spend much of my working time "in character." That is, I create alternate identities for myself. This is not as hard to do as you might think!

There are several sources for character ideas. some people go for actual historical figures. Others use the movies, television or novels. Still others construct their own original characters. Because Cowboy Action Shooting® has been around for a while, most of the actual historical characters of much note have already been spoken for; however, even if their alias has already been used, it still does not mean that you can't base a character on some historical figure, and then come up with a new name for him.

Here are a few ideas you can try.

Sources for Characters

One good place to start is your family. If you have an ancestor who was involved in the Civil War, or who fought the Indians (or the settlers!!!), you could base your character on that person. If you have an ancestor who was a saloonkeeper, a judge, a rancher, a newspaper reporter, a sheriff, a horse thief or any other of the noble professions of the Old West, there again is the basis for a character. Or you can pick a character from a movie, a western novel, the list is almost endless. Or you can base your character on your own profession.

The main thing is to start with a character.

One thing to bear in mind is that there were characters from various minority groups in the Old West. The Chinese built the railroads, the Irish were there, too. There were Germans, Swedes, Blacks, Hispanics, Indians, Frenchmen, Englishmen--you name it--they were there. This should give you some inspiration.

Once you have selected a character, then you should decide what his or her characteristics are. Slow, fast, brilliant, stupid, ornery, pleasant, strong, weak--this is where the acting part comes in--and it's fun.

Now that you have picked out a character, let's get some clothes for him or her.

For hints on costuming, click here

Or, if you would rather pick out an alias, click here.

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© 1999 Bill Palmer. To reproduce this page contact Bill Palmer.