Interview: Commander of the American Civil War Shooting Association

by Mike Kendra on November 8, 2009


Photo taken from the ACWSA homepage.

I’d like to introduce you to an organization that’s recently made “silent headlines” in the N-SSA. It is known as the American Civil War Shooting Association, and it’s based in the Mid-west area, with four to six scheduled events in Wisconsin and Illinois, with additional events planned for Michigan in 2010.

The commander of this organization is Bob Chabalowski, who is also the commander of the 66th North Carolina (CSA) in the area. He began skirmishing back in 1965 for several years. About 15 years ago he returned to skirmishing. He says his favorite event is Revolver shooting.

As usual, I sent Bob an email with questions, and he happily sent me a reply with answers:

Q: Who founded this organization and when was it founded?

Bob: The organization was an offshoot of the Civil War Skirmish Association (CWSA) which was based in California. The determination to (start the organization) was a joint decision by the team commanders, with the leg work done by several individuals: Lester Knutson, Gary Van Kauwenberg, Pat Camus and Stephen Sherry. The initial incorporation documents were sent to the State of Wisconsin on September 30, 1999 with our 1st skirmish as the ACWSA on May 6-7, 2000 at Lake Mills, WI.

Q: Why did you start this organization?

Bob: We started our own organization to have more local control over how we skirmish.  The initial set-up was a bit of work, but the frustration level has been near zero since we took control of our own operations.

Q: How many members are in the ACWSA?

Bob: Our current membership is about 250 spread over 19 different teams from Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan, but there’s more coming. Next year there could more teams joining from Iowa and Ohio, and eventually we hope to expand into Minnesota.

Q: How is your organization similar to the N-SSA, and how is it different?

We’re similar to the N-SSA in that we allow any firearms the approved by the N-SSA, and our skirmish rules are very similar to theirs.

Our major differences are:

  • Our dues are $15 a year, and beginning in 2009 we’re offering a “First Year Free” program.  It’s been so successful we’ve extended into 2010.  All you have to do is show up at a skirmish, and you’re in!
  • We don’t have the “diseconomies of scale” the N-SSA is experiencing.  As a smaller organization, we’re lighter on our feet and can make any changes we want quickly.
  • We’re less restrictive.  As long as it’s safe, and the team commanders on the ground vote to approve it, we allow pretty much anything.  That includes prorating targets for teams shooting short handed.
  • Ladies can shoot wearing period female dress, and even compete at 25 and 50 yards if they choose.  Ladies wearing uniforms are always welcome too.
  • The minimum age to participate is dictated by the State law of where the skirmish is held (in Wisconsin, that’s 12 years old right now)
  • We allow more varied targeting, and have recently started using metal hanging targets for pots, and 50 and 100 yard tiles.  They make skirmish preparation and clean-up a snap, save money and keep a lot of waste out of the landfills.

I’d like to wish Bob good luck in the coming skirmish year, and I hope he’ll keep us up to date with his Association’s news in the coming skirmish seasons!

Here’s a quick video of ACWSA skirmishing:


Check out the ACWSA web site:

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Glenn June 9, 2010 at 8:34 am

Pretty cool; it’s always nice to know that there are more people out there skirmishing.
I wonder if there is a way that the ACWSA and the CWSA could become “affiliate organizations” of the N-SSA or something. I’m always a believer that there is strength in numbers, and perhaps we all could benefit from being under one umbrella, but with these organizations still maintaining the autonomy they want.

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