We recently learned of a great public shooting range in Chaffee County, between Salida and Buena Vista (see details here: http://tinyurl.com/m3kkzj4). Rather than attempt to do the place justice, we’ve decided to publish a very well-written – and personal – piece sent to us by one of our volunteers from the area. Our thanks to him for the contribution.
Like many firearms enthusiasts out there, I will never forget the first time I went shooting. My Grandfather taught me how to shoot at the family farm in Iowa. We took a few paper plates and hung them on the fence about 10 yards away. Gramps then handed me a Marlin Papoose .22 rifle and taught me all the basic fundamentals. I’ll never forget that day, or our makeshift shooting range. That was the day I fell in love with shooting. I was about 9 years old.
Fast forward to about 3 years ago, I had just finished my 1st year working in the small town of Saguache, and a friend approached me asking if I would like to join him for a range day. I was low on ammo, but agreed to at least tag along. I grabbed my Stag Arms Model 3 and my Glock 22 and we headed out to Salida. My buddy could not stop talking about the Chaffee County range and just how awesome it was. I sat there thinking to myself, “It’s a public range, just how good could it be?” Boy, was I wrong.
The range itself sits in between Salida and Buena Vista in the gorgeous Arkansas River Valley. Take Highway 285 from Salida and you’ll find the range sitting in the area of mile marker 137. We started off at the pistol range and I found myself standing in a very well maintained range where all you need are targets and staples. No dragging out backers, no trying to hunt down stands or sticks, everything was already provided and set up…..completely free of charge. Did I mention the barriers? Oh yeah, they also provide barriers if you want to practice shooting from cover.
After blowing through every ounce of .40 S&W ammo I had, we moved onto the rifle range. I was astounded at what I saw. This range was as well maintained as the pistol range but on a much grander scale. Not only did they have backers and target stands already set up, they had steel targets set up at various marked distances spanning from 25 yards all the way out to 800 yards. As I understand, they have recently added steel out at 1000 yards as well. Not only were there steel targets such as gongs and plates, but they also had steel targets of EVERY animal you could think of. Want to shoot a life size steel elk? They had it. Deer? Yep. Buffalo? Yep. Folks, they had a steel house cat out there.
We finished off at the rifle range, packed up, and began the 45 minute drive back to Saguache. I have since moved, and have a new range I shoot at locally, but nothing will ever beat the Chaffee County Range. Except maybe the old farm with Gramps.