This season there has been several long running matches cancelled at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. Sporting Rifle Match, Rocky Mountain 3 Gun, He Man 3 Gun, Nightforce 2 Gun.
The match that is near and dear to my heart is the Sporting Rifle Match, SRM.
This season is my 7th year shooting the match. Match started 14yrs ago run by volunteers. The match is shot in area called Coal Canyon on the Whittington Center property. It's amazing area to shoot. Both fun and challenging shooting a "field" match in natural terrain. Shooting across canyons, intersecting canyons.... The match consist of 10 stages, 6 targets each stage. We hike with all gear from stage to stage, about a 2 mile hike to complete the course. Every stage offers different wind challenges. Matches runs from Feb-Sept, 1st Sunday of the month. Two of the months we have a AR match on the Saturday before the normal After Sept Coal Canyon is closed to guided hunts.
The SRM was cancelled for season earlier this year, due to high fire danger. Very crappy how it was handled. The match directors called the WC Friday as they always do before heading down from Denver to set up for the Saturday AR match, see if any problems, no problems. They set up the match, paint steel targets, repair targets.... Late Friday evening they get a call from the WC, can't shoot the match due to fire danger. Note there are many people who are in Raton staying overnight to shoot the match the next day who drove a long ways. The two NEW WC directors offered a alternative sight, a square range. The SRM declined the use of that range, moving 60 steel targets.....
Rumors started flying around the match was going to be cancelled for good. I called and spoke with the new program director Ken Mestas and asked if the weather pattern changes will the match resume, Ken replied no, WC has a new vision moving forward. He also said the SRM match was not cancelled, WC offered a viable alternative location, square range. Worth noting Ken is not a competitive shooter, he doesn't have a clue the difference between shooting in Coal Canyon vs anywhere square range. I would never drive 4 hrs to shoot a square range match. SRM match director clearly understand stands that, he too would not.
Rocky Mountain 3 Gun started out as the last Soldier of Fortune 3 gun match in 01 and took 02 off and was back as RM3G in 03 which included 2 major 3 gun matches which were on the front side of the WC and the Nightforce 2gun match started 3?? years ago that was run in Coal Canyon.
The Nighforce 2 Gun match director was told by the WC Coal Canyon was being closed to keep it pristine for the hunters. The impact that the matches have in the Coal Canyon are extremely minimum. Narrow hiking trail going from stage to stage. There has never been a problem with trash...
Competitors are traveling from all over to shoot these matches, spending hard earned money in Raton....
By a fair margin two of the fastest growing shooting disciplines in the country are precision long range steel matches, PRS, NRL.... and 3 Gun. The WC should be promoting these disciplines.
I ask everyone to sign this petition.
Contact the Whittington Center via e-mail or letter.
Facebook members post here.
Very much worth noting a few of the post have been deleted from the WC FB page. Post detailing facts of what has happened. Also worth noting the new Exec Director, Josh Adams has back peddled a bit in his recent post.
I have not competed as often, or as long, as offgrid in the sporting match in Coal Canyon. However, I've been there enough know that matches held there are unique events. IMO there are too many precision/tactical matches held in square ranges and not enough in natural terrain.
Natural terrain allows the match director to use what mother nature laid out before us. Rocks, trees, hills, valleys, bushes, or whatever to present challenges. Square ranges generally mean props (barriers, man-made berms, time constraints) to challenge the shooter. Some PRS matches have taking this to the extreme, making funky positions the rule for variety. One competitor here calls such stages "Special Olympics" stages, and this is not meant in a complimentary way.
For its first years I shot the Nightforce 2-gun Precision/Tactical match in Coal Canyon. It was an amazing match. Each year brought more shooters, tougher competition, and innovative stages. This year at the last moment, the NF 2-gun match was move to the center of the Whittington property. The northern 5 stages were shot in nice terrain -- evidently sharing portions of land used for prior 3-gun matches, with is a bit north of the main Whittington facilities. These stages weren't quite as nice as those in Coal Canyon, but they were well done.
The southern 5 stages were shot in prairie to the east of the main Whittington facilities. IMO the match director did a respectable job setting the stages for the close-in tactical targets. However, the long distance precision targets were out in the middle of the flats, squeezed between steel targets used by a number of Whittington's practice and competition ranges. On many of the southern stages, switching from carbine to bolt action required a strong sense of direction to know which targets were in play.
Our distance steel targets were painted white with a light green outline. At the beginning of the day it wasn't overly difficult to differentiate our freshly painted targets from the white targets of other ranges. However, after a few dings on the steel, one could easily confuse which targets were in play.
I signed the petition and sent an email to the NF match director. An email to the Whittington Center is in the works.
Please help us all in getting Coal Canyon back in the venue.
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So, what is the real issue here because I have read this thread, and a bunch of stuff on FB about this. And I still don't get the why. Seems to me that this is a club power struggle. This happens at EVERY club I have ever been to.
Am I missing something?
"Make it a shooting, and not a gunfight" LSP552 02/19/2011
Yes, I believe you are missing something. The NRA Whittington Center is not a club. The idea, mission of the Whittington Center is or was to support, promote, grow the shooting community. No doubt there is a power struggle to the direction the Whittington Center is going$$$$
Recent statement from a Youth Adventure Camp counselor volunteer.
"It may not make you folks feel any better but the competitive shooting programs you're talking being cancelled aren't the only programs negatively affected by new management. The NRA Adventure Camp (ADVC) just celebrated it's 30th Anniversary year at the Whittington Center. Every year between 114-120 youth age 13-17 come from all over the country, and sometimes the world, for one of two 2 week sessions where they learn to shoot everything from bows to .50 BMG. They are supervised by around 20 counselors (former campers who love the program and come back) and about 15-20 adult instructors and camp directors. During the 2018 session a total of 114 kids fired over 120,000 rounds of .everything from .22 LR to .50 BMG and 338 Lapua at 1 mile on the south flats. The campers and counselors are housed 10 to a log cabin and the adult instructors and directors are housed in the founders cabins. Between the $1100 camper fees and corporate donations the ADVC has been more than breaking even according to WC management. HOWEVER, starting next year with the 2019 camp all the kids will be moved out of the log cabins which were built specifically to house ADVC campers and into tents in Mule Canyon which has ZERO facilities. No water, no toilets, no cell phone coverage. The plan for 2020 is to shorten the camp from two sessions to one which will dramatically cut back on the number of campers that can be accommodated. Why are they doing this? So they can remodel the log cabins and sell them to corporate sponsors on a time share basis and make more money renting them out than they're getting from ADVC for their use. This will effectively kill a 30 year old program because you will not be able to convince counselors age 14-19 to spend 5 weeks in a tent in June/July. No counselors, no ADVC.
Good grief! What’s next: No Evil Black Rifles?
Zumbo, is that you?
Anyone who doesn’t recognize that any legitimate firearms related activity, especially any competition, is good for everyone who owns guns legally is an idiot.
“The [Roman] legions had crumbled not because organizational weaknesses, technological backwardness, or even problems of command and discipline, but because of the dearth of free citizens who were willing to fight for their own freedom and the values of their civilization.”
— Victor Davis Hanson, Why the West Has Won
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