It's a Wrap!

The 2019 shooting season at Big Whiskey II is over for the year!  RMR members and friends shot the October Match (October 12 and 13) on two beautiful autumn days.  Despite below freezing temperatures at the start of the shoot on Saturday, nineteen hardy souls gathered to send lead down range.  The glorious sunshine warmed the day and thawed out the cowboys and cowgirls.  Ranger Six took home the top award of the day.  On Sunday, sixteen shooters once again braved some chilly weather, and Ranger Six repeated his victory. Congratulations Ranger! 

Sunday, however, only three main match stages were shot followed by a Team Shoot and the infamous Super Stage Extravaganza.  Partners were drawn from a deck of cards for the Team Shoot.  Those with the black card shot their rifle, and the partners with the red card shot their pistols.  Both members of each team then shot two shotgun targets.  The participants all enjoyed the stage with top honors going to the team of Covada and Jeb Stuart.  The Super Stage, a longtime tradition at Big Whiskey II for the last shoot of the year, included eighteen guns.  Shooters started at Stage 1 with their match guns and an array of weapons provided by Jake the Snake and Marshall DJ and continued all the way to Stage 6.  As usual, it was a hoot! Poco Culebra took first place in the Super Stage for 2019.   Thanks to both Jake and Marshall for providing guns and ammo for all! 

Also, special thanks to Jake the Snake for writing all the stages for the matches, and thanks to ALL the shooters for coming and helping move steel at the end of the match.  Scores are posted on the Score page for more details.

So, it is a wrap for 2019.  Of course, now it is reloading season, and we are already looking forward to shooting with all of you in 2020!



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State Champions!! Woohoo!!

The 2019 Montana State Champions are ... (drum roll!!!) ... Graydog and May B. Shecann!  Great job and congratulations to both shooters!  This honor is well deserved!

Graydog is now the second Men's Champion to hail from the Rocky Mountain Rangers.  What an honor!  And, May B. Shecann, a frequent RMR visitor has won her fifth? Montana State Ladies Buckle.  There certainly is no "maybe" about her shooting!

Congratulations to both!  Look for Graydog on the RMR range and maybe May B. Shecann. (Ha!ha!)










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Guns Gone Silent

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."

Poem read by Fire Opal

"Thinkin' It Over" 

by Bruce Kiskaddon, Union Stockyards Calendar poem, public domain

It's odd but there is one thing most people like to do.

To spend a while beside the grave of some one that you knew.

You do it when you've time enough to make a quiet ride.

To see the fleecy clouds above and watch the shadows glide.

You think of things he did and said, and of the ways he had.

And now to think that he is dead.  It makes you feel plum sad.

It brings the old days back again, you live them one by one.

You think of things that happened then, and what you should have done.

They say there'll be a Judgment Day when dead men rise again.

So I suppose he'll have to stay just where he is till then.

But then you reckon that the one who made the world knows best.

He takes them when their work is done and lets them have their rest.

And when at last our strength has failed we make our last long ride.

We leave this world and take the trail across the great divide.

So when it's time to make the change we'll go where they have gone. 

We'll meet them on another range somewhere in the beyond.


Please note that previous columns for the Ranger Review Corner are currently posted at the bottom of this page.

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Winter Range, Bucket List Check

Jocko and I, Fire Opal, fulfilled a bucket list item this February.  For years we have wanted to attend Winter Range, the national SASS Cowboy Action Shoot which is held north of Phoenix, Arizona at the Ben Avery Shooting Complex.  This is the year the stars aligned and we were able to attend.  It is also the year the stars aligned, and parts of Arizona had some of worst weather they had experienced in eighty-six years (Flagstaff had 41 inches of snow).  Like the postal carriers who are guided by the pledge of "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds", the Winter Range  shooters dealt with rain, snow, sleet, hail, and lightning while discharging their rounds downrange. We eventually had sun on the last day of the main match. Beautiful sun!

Nevertheless, we had a fantastic time at the shoot.  Neither of us expected to shoot well, however Jocko did manage to shoot a clean match.  The facility was amazing, the stages were interesting and fun, the vendors were numerous, and the people in attendance all had wet if cold grins plastered to their faces.   All in all, it was a terrific time.  We would certainly recommend the experience.  Next year Winter Range is scheduled to take place one week later.  With any luck, the weather will be better too!

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Farewell to Another Friend

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.






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Nifty Old West Sites in Montana: Virginia City and Nevada City

One of the niftiest places to visit in Montana is in the Southwestern part of the state not too far from Bannack and Yellowstone National Park.  Virginia City and Nevada City were part of the “Fourteen Mile City” which lies in the very lucrative Alder Gulch.  This area quickly became the most populated in the state after gold was discovered May 26, 1863.  By mid-1864, Virginia City boasted over 5,000 residents and as a result became the territorial capital in 1865.  Eventually over 10,000 people flooded into the area to partake in the wealth of the biggest gold mining operation in the Rocky Mountains.

The history of the area is fascinating with vigilante justice, governmental systems, specialized mining operations, social and cultural contributions, transportation innovations, and huge economic impacts.  Today Virginia City is a living ghost town, and nearby Nevada City has been reconstructed with many period cabins and buildings which were relocated to the area. The Montana Historical Commission oversees the maintenance and programming of the location for tourism, educational field trips, and family fun.

Every Cowboy Action Shooter would be fascinated to see the living history of Virginia City and Nevada City.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit these towns, you should put it on your bucket list!  More information is available on the official website,   Enjoy!






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RMR Mentor's 4-H Shooters

Last year, 2018, RMR and the Sander's County 4-H Western Heritage Project collaborated in a mentor program.  In 2019 we are on board to help the 4-H kids with their shooting skills and historical interpretation as well.  More information should be coming soon about this year's sessions.  If you are interested in helping mentor the 4-H shooters, please contact one of the RMR board members for more information.  It should be an exciting year!

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Ambush at Canyon Walls VI is Coming Up!

The Bitterroot Buckaroos Shooting and Social Club is presenting the 2019 Ambush at Canyon Walls VI September 13,14, and 15th.  Let it be known that this Hamilton club puts on one heck of a good shoot!

Many of our RMR shooters plan to attend, therefore our September shoot was moved to the weekend before to accommodate this shoot date (RMR shoot is September 8th & 9th - Check Schedule Tab.)

The Buckaroos shoot side matches on Friday and the Main Match on Saturday and Sunday with the awards ceremony following.  The Side Events Shooting Gallery is set up differently than most.  For all the fun side matches, you are shooting for tokens which you then redeem at their "store" for various prizes.  There is no pressure, and everyone who participates comes away with some cool prizes.  Saturday evening there is a banquet, and again there are some terrific raffle prizes that have been collected by the club.  The Banquet and Sunday's lunch are part of your shooter fees.

Check out more information and download the entry form from their website .  Hope to see you there!





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Blast From the Past

When creating this new website, we found several older pictures that we did not want to loose.  This "Blast from the Past" photo features a photo of Birta Rose and Cactus Ron.  This photo was taken at the 2008 Great Northern Regional.  Cactus Ron served as the RMR president for many years.  For several years, Birta and Cactus let club members shoot on their ranch as a temporary range.  Besides allowing us to shoot, they opened their ranch to campers, and Birta always made a tasty dessert which she served to shooters on their porch.  Good times!

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Ranger 6's Ranger Review: Cowboy Shooting With the RMR

       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.


Ranger Six

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Buckskin's Ranger Review: First Shoot


Hi all!

"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.






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Mt Jughead's Ranger Review

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

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Do you enjoy the history of the Old West?  Do you like shooting?  Cowboy Action Shooting might be for you.  Explore our website for information about this exciting shooting sport.