This year, I was fortunate to get an invite, thanks to the Farm Fam and Ambulance Driver. As fortune would have it, I'd already moved to Colorado, so instead of a cross-country drive or airplane ride, it was just a drive.
Friday afternoon I departed my office, swung through the bank drive-up ATM for some cash, stopped in the liquor store to grab some beers, and hit the road. I took a few "back roads" to avoid the bulk of Denver traffic (Denver, Friday, 5:45pm? Yeah, no thanks!) and after a couple stops for gas and such, pulled up to the Farm Fam Homestead around 10:30pm. Just in time for a couple beers before everyone headed back to their respective hotels for the night.
Saturday morning, we went to the local diner (hereafter referred to as "Obligatory Cow Reference" because that's what the Blogorado veterans called it, and you don't mess with tradition) for morning chow and coffee. LOTS of coffee.
I indulged in the Longhorn Skillet, which was cottage fries topped with onion, peppers, ham, cheese, and eggs. Now, despite being a skinny fellow, I can typically eat a large amount of food, but this platter was too much for even me. Our waitress busted her butt keeping up with the coffee urns and food plates and such, and we all left with full bellies. OldNFO, being generous beyond words, picked up the tab, and therefore the rest of us left her a hefty tip by any measure, but doubly so for a small rural diner. It wouldn't surprise me if she covered half her rent for the month on just that one bill (I dropped $20 on the table, and I know others did as well. By my thinking, I was figuring on spending $20 anyway,)
Once full, we made the drive to the Farm Fam Homestead, where guns and ammo and targets and such were loaded up, then we drove to the range. LawDog gave a quick safety briefing ("Mind your muzzles, don't do anything stupid, if someone needs medical care, find JB or Ambulance Driver, happy shooting"), and we commenced to shooting.
The range has several areas set up for different styles of guns. It's more or less an arc, and starting on the left, there's a long rifle range out to ~750 yards, where some of the folks were trying to find out just how far they could reach out and get hits on targets. I was pleased to find that I was able to hit a "Hostage" style target at 400+ yards, although I can't be sure that the "hostage" survived and the "scum" died. But I heard a resounding "PING!" after I shot, and that's a pretty good feeling. After all, any long shots I take are going to be on wild game, not hostages.
In addition to that, BarronB was kind enough to make some small tweaks to my Remington 700, and has it dead on at 300 yards (he didn't much care for the 6 pound trigger or the rented mule kick of the rifle, however...)
Working right along the arc, you come to a shotgun/wing shooting station, where we managed to break the pivot weld on the mechanical clay thrower, so I dug out my hand held thrower and we went through a box of 90 clays in short order. "Who's got more clays?" was answered by four different folks: "In my trunk" or "Bed of the pickup". A call for additional 12G shells received the same response. I tell you with no measure of exaggeration, we shot over 200 rounds of shotgun rounds in a few hours.
Continuing along the arc, we come to the pistol range, with an assortment of reactive targets like this:
These are ideal for situations when you've got a LOT of folks shooting, as there's less need to call for a cold range to reset or hang a new paper target. Despite that, there were times when we'd call the range cold, and I made mention to someone that it was quite remarkable that we had 30+ people, 100+ guns, and absolutely NOBODY got shot. We are all each other's RSO, and on those rare instances that a possible safety issue came up, it was quickly pointed out. We're all experienced shooters, and while experienced shooters can and do make mistakes, none of us are so egocentric to not be willing to listen.
Once you get beyond the pistol range, we had a dual purpose range, with targets at 50 and 100 yards for rimfire. Some AR-15s were sighted in, some .22LR was shot, some .17HMR was shot, and much fun was had when we shot a heart shaped Papier-mâché target filled with Tannerite in honor of Ray, who shuffled off this mortal coil too damn soon.
After shooting much of the late morning and early afternoon, Farm Mom arrived with the grill, cooking some serious grub: thick and juicy burgers, pulled pork, and brisket. We all ate, we shot a bit more, then returned to the Homestead for 1.5 inch thick T-bone steaks cooked up by Stingray from Atomic Nerds. A perfect medium-rare, the steak was almost too much to handle.
Beers started flowing after the guns were put away, and there's a rumor floating 'round that MattG had more than his share, but as it was his birthday, we'll give him a pass.
Sunday, it was more of the same. Breakfast, guns, homestead, beers. I had to leave around 4pm on Sunday, while others were able to stay the night (work beckoned on Monday morning, and as I've only been with this job for a week, I had no vacation time to use). I bid my goodbyes to my new friends, made a promise to come back next year, and drove home.
On the ride home, I reflected on the group: We had a physician, a nurse practitioner, two paramedics, one IT systems admin, two law enforcement officers, a couple physicists, some gun writers, one nurse, a business consultant, and countless other professions. We had people from New Hampshire, Kansas City, Eastern Washington State, Illinois, Texas, New Mexico, Indiana, and points between. We had men and women. We had married couples and single folks. We had folks from all walks of life, and we all shared the one commonality of the Brotherhood of the Gun.
These are my people. This is my tribe. I spent the weekend with my tribe, doing the things that I enjoy.
Weekends don't get much better than that.