Vail Valley Voices: Shooters clean up range |

Vail Valley Voices: Shooters clean up range

Mathew Bayley
Vail, CO, Colorado

In the middle of last summer, a young man called for directions to the Minturn (Two Elk) shooting range. As I was explaining to this fellow how to get to the range, I said something to the effect of “you look for,” and he interrupted me and said, “the junkyard.”

I replied, “No. In fact, when you get there, you will find that it is extraordinarily clean.”

I then explained how the Minturn Shooter Association had been formed and about our commitment to keeping the range clean while educating others shooters about our organization and the need for their help.

I hung up and, being the opportunist that I am, thought, What a great introduction to an article. Why do most firearms enthusiasts expect to find their local shooting range in no better condition than a trash heap?

Through the spring and summer, I will be writing a series of articles that look at firearms and shooting from all angles. I will pick one subject and cover it in depth. For now, I will leave this subject alone and give you the good news: Shooters care!

The difference in the condition of the shooting range last summer compared with the summer before was nothing short of miraculous. Over the course of the summer, even joggers would stop and compliment me and other shooters on the clean conditions of the range.

With a once-a-month cleanup, help from the Probation Department, the Community Service Division, the town of Minturn Department of Public Works and the Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District, we reduced both the amount of illegal objects that were brought to the range (TV, appliances, etc.) and the amount of used shooting materials left behind by more than 90 percent.

It is our mission this year to maintain this high standard of care and work toward a goal of zero tolerance for the shooting of glass of any kind and the rebuilding and repair of the current fixed structures.

Let me just throw one thought out to you, and then I will talk about our spring organizational meeting. The first naturalists-conversationalists were hunters.

Teddy Roosevelt, who was an avid hunter, was responsible for signing legislation establishing five national parks, including Mesa Verde. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundations, Duck Unlimited and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, to name a few, were all started to help preserve our wildlands for further generations of Americans to enjoy.

I am not saying that in our nation’s history, firearms enthusiasts have not turned to the dark side, but for the most part, the tradition of respecting the natural environment was passed down from father to son through outdoor shooting sports.

Over the past 40 years, this tradition has been slowly disappearing to the point that, frankly, most shooters just do not know any better than to bring their trash to the range, shoot it and then leave it behind.

At least in this valley, all that changed last summer. The Minturn Shooter Association, with the help of its coalition of supporters, spearheaded a project to maintain the Two Elk Shooting Range. But the really cool part is we met little to no resistance from the shooters who enjoy using the range.

As soon as they were made aware of what we were doing, they jumped on board. It appeared that by the end of last summer, we had reached critical mass. Shooters who practiced proper range discipline and maintenance now outnumbered shooters who did not.

Moving forward

The Minturn Shooter Association will be holding its spring organizational meeting April 23 at 6 p.m. at the Forest Service headquarters at Meadow Mountain.

Our goal this year is to maintain the high standard of cleanliness from last year and improve on it. We plan to refurbish the current fixed structures and work toward zero tolerance for the shooting of glass of any kind. If you are a shooter who sees the importance of maintaining and keeping the Two Elk Shooting Range open for years to come, please join us.

For more information, contact me at or 970-949-8121.

Mathew Bayley is the president of the Minturn Shooter Association.

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