Approximately seventy cowboys and cowgirls attended the 2020 Montana State shoot in July. This year RMR members Chiparoo, Marshal DJ, and Jake the Snake made the trek to the Black Horse Shootist's range located on the north side of Great Falls.
Coming home with the coveted Schuetzen Plaque was Marshal DJ, pictured above. Twenty-five shooters aimed at the distant target, eleven hit it, and Marshal DJ came closest to the SASS cowboy's star. Congratulations on winning the plaque for 2020, Marshal!
Chiparoo placed first in the Grand Patron category, Marshal DJ placed second in the Senior Gunfighter category, and Jake the Snake also placed second in the Senior Duelist category. Not enough RMR members attended the shoot for an RMR team this year.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic shooters attended the Montana State shoot from all over the country including California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Washington, Idaho, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
Jake the Snake was pleased to see a dozen younger shooters at the state shoot this year. According to Jake, "About five youngsters were on my posse, and every single one of them worked hard all the time. I would be proud and pleased to shoot with any of them again."
Congratulations again to our RMR members as well as the other shooters at the Montana State Shoot!
Whew! We can close the books on the 2020 shooting season at Big Whiskey II. As with any year, the October shoot marks the end of another season of fun, gun powder, and comradery at RMR. Although 2020 certainly read like a book with more twists and turns than a racing road course, The Rocky Mountain Rangers were able to shoot for five months this year. Although we got to a late start due to Covid-19 restrictions, we did not have to cancel any shoots for fire conditions. That in itself was something to celebrate!
Once the final cleanup at the range is undertaken, we can put Big Whiskey II to bed for the winter. Some may wonder why RMR doesn't continue shooting throughout the winter months, but if you have ever spent time in Noxon, you would know that snow falls can and do accumulate with three to four feet sitting on the ground throughout much of the winter. So setting steel in the snow, driving up to the range, much less finding brass is not doable.
For those of us living in this part of Western Montana, we spend the winter reloading, reflecting on the good times of the past year, and anticipating the shoots to come. For those of you who are able to continue your shooting season, enjoy! With that being said, we hope all of you winter well and we'll see you in the spring!
After over eighteen years as the Secretary/Treasurer and a founding Board Member for the Rocky Mountain Rangers, Jocko has made the decision to retire. Although he is surrendering the many hats he has worn for the club, he will still remain a member and shoot on occasion. Jake the Snake will assume the office of Secretary/Treasurer. Currently both cowboys are in the process of transferring paperwork into Jake's name. Thanks Jocko for all you have done for the club over the years!
For many years, RMR's board has planned to recognize and honor some of our past members and dear friends who have departed this earth. When RMR applied for and received a range improvement grant from MT Fish, Wildlife, and Parks in 2016, the proposal included plans to build our much used pavilion as well as a kiosk for information and a Guns Gone Silent display. All of our board members worked hard to complete this goal, and after our August 10th, 2019 shoot, we celebrated our former members and friends with a dedication ceremony.
The ceremony was well attended including two shooters whose spouses were recognized on our board. After a welcome and a review of the project in the pavilion, attendees traipsed over to the kiosk. Cactus Ron and Idaho Muleskinner assisted with the unveiling of the memorial. After a poem was read by Fire Opal, emcee of the ceremony, Doc Tombstone organized a 21 gun salute then played taps. An emotional crowd then gathered under the pavilion to partake refreshments and share various stories about the honorees. Many tales were told about these folks by those who knew them. Some laughter was shared as humorous stories were related.
Those being honored include Charlie Bull (Dan Holstin), Mad Millie Black (Rowena Holstin), Jackpine (Lee Klawitter), I.C. Poorly (Harlan Johnson), Banker Barb (Barb Micheau), R.E. Volver (George Bowman), Fairly Reliable Ron (Ron Hunter), Galloping Swede (Les Johnson), Stretch (Ron Bame), Birta Rose (Judy Taylor), Charlie Whiskers (Charles Emanuelson), Poverty Bill (Bill Doyle), Curly Sue (Sue Atchison), and Pecos Jack (Jack Newell). All of these shooters are dear to the hearts of RMR members. "We know you'd be with us today if heaven wasn't so far away" was a quote that seemed fitting for the occasion.
At the end of the gathering, Cactus Ron probably said it best. "There are a lot of names on the kiosk. Let's not be adding any more names soon."
Another cowboy crossed the great divide. It is with great sadness, we report the loss of our dear friend and RMR member, Daryle Handy AKA Koocanusa Kid SASS #82311. Koocanusa was a longtime member of RMR. For those who knew Koocanusa, they admired his grit in the face of adversity. Koocanusa loved Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) with a passion. He attributed his participation in CAS as a huge motivator that got him out of his wheelchair and moving again.
Due to injuries sustained while he was in service to our country and a motorcycle accident, Daryle was severely disabled. But when he was introduced to CAS in Eureka, he challenged himself to make the effort to shoot. Koocanusa Kid adapted everything we know about CAS to make it work for him. Among those adaptations he made leg holsters, fitted his gun stock up-side-down, and shot from a scooter. Although he was not the fastest shooter, he was usually accurate and cleaned many matches. Koocanusa managed to attend matches in Eureka, Noxon, Bigfork, Simms, Hamilton, and Great Falls.
It was a pleasure to know Koocanusa who served as an inspiration to many CAS shooters. His cheerful smile and steadfast determination will be missed.
Daryle is survived by his loving wife, Kay AKA Sweetwater Lily, at the family home in Eureka.
Benton City lies about an hour north of Great Falls. Tucked in a river valley along the Missouri River, you travel through wheat field after wheat field to come to this quaint little town. What you might not realize is that Benton City was once one of if not the most important town in the Montana Territory.
Steamships once traveled the Missouri River up to Benton City. However because of the topography of the river and a series of rapids, this was as far as river commerce could travel along the wide Missouri. Benton City became the hub for all western travel and commerce. Mining equipment unloaded and gold and silver loaded on the steam ships. Buffalo hides filled many a steamer for an eastward journey. And of course, people poured into Montana via the river.
If you haven't had a chance to tour Benton City, you need to put it on your bucket list.
Construction of the steel trailer shed is almost complete. After several grueling work days, a team of RMR members have nearly finished this task. Thanks to Buckskin Dave, Jake the Snake, Duke West, Graydog, and Doc Tombstone the RMR trailer will have a new home and will be able to be stored with the steel.
Over the years, the steel just keeps getting heavier … imagine that! And several RMR members concocted the idea of building an addition to our existing storage container. With this addition, much of the steel can be stored on the trailer thus eliminating some extra steps when setting the range.
Building this addition became a priority for 2020, however there are additional projects that need to be completed. If you are interested in helping out on any other projects and work parties, be sure to contact either Jake the Snake or Graydog.
Due to the Coronavirus, Covid 19 Pandemic clubs all over have had to make the very difficult decision to cancel their shoots. Topping that list was the news released by SASS this week that the End of Trail Shoot has been cancelled. If you did not receive an email concerning the cancellation, you can probably find more information on the SASS wire. The New Eastern Washington Regulators at Colville, WA made the difficult decision to cancel for this year as Washington also is under a Stay-At-Home Directive.
Time will only tell if other shoots will be held such as the Montana State Championship in July. I will try to keep you informed as we find out about cancellations.
The original Big Whiskey was built up Rock Creek outside of Noxon on a ranch owned by a former member. Some of the original RMR club members spent countless hours constructing the town. This picture was taken in 2004, and shows some of the original structures. After shooting at this venue for several years, RMR relocated to the Taylor Ranch, then our current Big Whiskey II range in Noxon. Some of our original members/builders of this original location who are still active in RMR include: Doc Tombstone, Jake the Snake, Jocko, and Fire Opal.
I have been Cowboy Action Shooting with the Rocky Mountain Rangers for several years now, and I keep coming back for a lot of reasons. The folks of the RMR are always friendly and welcoming to visitors as well as their fellow members. When arriving on the Friday before a match, I am often meet by other campers, and Jocko & Fire Opal usually stop by to say Hi in the evening. Watching young shooters come along is always a pleasure. The first time I shot with Poco, I remember how fast he was, even if not many targets were hit. Several years later Poco came up to me and with a big smile, asked if I was aware that his final time was faster than mine. Graydog and Doc do a fine job of writing scenarios, which are varied and mix easy with challenging. Of course I have to endure Graydog’s harassment, but it’s OK, I find it entertaining. Another unique feature for a monthly shoot is the time after a match where folks can compare scores and catch up on the latest.
There are other things to enjoy at a RMR shoot as well. It is a weekend match which allows for more shooting and for folks who RV, a nice place to stay. On occasion there are other campers to share a fire at night with and sometimes I enjoy the peace and solitude of being the only one around. My dog takes me for hikes in the surrounding area where we are often rewarded by seeing deer and elk. The Big Whiskey II range is inviting to shoot Cowboy at, no cars or trucks in view, stage fronts that lend an air of Old West to the match, and the scenery does not include man made berms, high tension towers or someone’s house, just woods and mountains.
"Shooting at Big Whiskey", yep it really works for me, so I thought I'd share my feelings.
Well, we finally got to do our first shoot of the year. All went well and as usual, we all had a great time. We had two safety mishaps on Saturday: one 170 rule and one shot landing too close to the line. But everything went off ok. Sunday went really well, and the weather was great. Doc C. tried shooting gunfighter and did really good for his first time. I decided to try duelist and did ok, Jake the Snake shot duelist and did well.
Over all everyone did good and got the cobwebs out. We all missed Doc Tombstone and hope he heals up soon so Graydog will have some competition, even though Ranger 6 was getting close.
Here’s hoping the rest of 2019 goes as well, and sure look forward to seeing you at the next shoot.
Just spent the day (June 8th) with the good folks at Noxon after camping on the range Friday night. It's so peaceful and cool at night in the trees and early enough in the year to avoid the wildfires and smoke. We had a rain filled Saturday after the first couple of stages which always makes it a challenge but it could've been much worse. At least it was warm enough for my hands to mostly work. I just wish my brain would have.
The nicest thing about shooting at Big Whiskey is the terrific people that frequent the venue. It would've been nice to have Jocko with us but he graciously pulled puppy duty so Fire could enjoy herself. What a guy.....probably going to get an extra lump of coal in his Christmas stocking this year and well deserved.
Anyway, back to the good people who set this up for all to enjoy. Even in the bad weather they make it work by providing a bit of cover to get out of the rain to the greatest extent possible so we manage to keep the guns and the shooters as dry as possible.
I always look forward to coming over from Great Falls for a fun time with the Noxon crew but maybe you could move Noxon a couple hundred miles closer so I could get there more often. I'd encourage everyone to get up north and enjoy it as much as I do.
Jerry (MT Jughead) Thunstrom