Spur Ranch Firearms Training Event January 2017 By John Russo
In August of 2016, the Guninpho crew traveled to Saratoga, Wyoming for the Third Annual Spur Outfitters Firearms Training Event. The week long event provides firearms training to the local community while giving gun writers the opportunity to test various guns, ammo and gear. This year’s sponsors included Black Hills, Hornady, ATK, Ruger, Glock, Sig Sauer, Springfield Armory, Leupold, Birchwood Casey, Galco, Surefire, TUFF Products, North County Firearms, JD Built and Shively’s Hardware.
Plenty of Classes
We began the week teaching classes on the defensive pistol, AR15 rifle, long range rifle, youth rimfire rifle and personal safety and home defense. Black Hills provided us with their FMJ 9mm, .40 and .45 rounds and the students didn’t waste time shooting it up! This is a nice, clean burning training ammo with good accuracy. It also feeds well and we did not have a single misfire in over eight thousand rounds. The classes were very well received and the students were highly motivated.
The kids rimfire class was a highlight for the instructional staff. Each of the kids did a great job and had a blast, but I think the instructors had just as much fun. Ruger provided their American Rimfire .22 rifles and the kids gave them a work out with the ATK provided CCI ammo. The kids did especially well demonstrating an ability to learn and apply the lessons while maintaining perfect range safety.
On the long range course, the Black Hills and Hornady match ammo performed flawlessly as always. We shot Black Hills 5.56 and .308 out of precision rifles along with Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor and .204 Ruger loads. Each of these shot very well, with the heavier loads hitting targets well beyond 1000 yards. The Spur has an excellent rifle range with steel targets out to one mile that really lets the shooters stretch their legs. As a former sniper and life-long hunter, I love a good rifle range with marked yardage and steel targets. This is a great way for hunters to practice realistic shooting. Most hunters over estimate distance so shooting at 12″ steel plates at 100-500 yards can help put things into perspective. Shooters especially enjoyed the Ruger American Predator rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor topped with a Leupold VX-3i optic. Instructor and students alike coulnt’ get enough of this gun and had a blast seeing how far they could hit. There’s just something pleasing about ringing a steel target way out there!
We had a great selection of targets and gun cleaning gear this year thanks to Birchwood Casey and their representative, Mike Capps from Howard Communications. Mike took the time out of his busy schedule to join us at the Spur and help set up the targets for the classes. We tried out their new 15″ Mule Kick AR500 target on the long range. This is a great rifle target that is easy to see and will withstand big bore rifles. We also got to use their resetting and spinning targets on the kids rimfire course. The kids loved these and we couldn’t load their magazines fast enough!
In the Field
The Spur Ranch is one of my favorite places in all the world. I look forward to it each year and truly enjoy teaching firearms. But a highlight of the week is the opportunity to test guns and ammo in the field. The Spur has some of the best prairie dog shooting you can find which affords you the opportunity to test guns of all calibers at just about any distance. We’ve shot them with handguns at three feet and heavy centerfires out past 600 yards. The only limit you have is your equipment and imagination. We have found the .17 HMR is a popular favorite amongst many shooters. This hot little round lets us comfortably make accurate shots out past 150 yards. It is also inexpensive which is helpful when shooting one to two thousand rounds in a week! ATK and Hornady provided us with a host of different loads for the .17 HMR, all of which shot well.
The other Hornady round we shot extensively was the .204 Ruger. This is quite simply a fun round to shoot. If you have never played with it before, think of it as a hotter .223 running lighter bullets. Hornady sent several loads to play with but my favorite for prairie dogs is the 32 grain V-Max. It is running around 4000 feet per second and the polymer tip really does a number of the varmints.
We look forward to our annual Summer trip to the Spur Ranch all year long. Our host, Dave Sturm, and his assistant, Corina Daley, go out of their way to take care of their guests. We can’t wait to get back there and if you’ve never been, you need to check them out. The Spur has ranches in several states and can handle all of your hunting and fishing needs.