The catastrophic flooding of the Big Thompson River in September 2013 caused the loss of the road to the outdoor range and did some damage to the range itself. For the full report, click here.
1978 through 1984
By Garry D. Hanson , Past President
I moved to Estes Park in June, 1978. Having been an avid Gun Club member in Virginia I was looking for a Gun Club in this area. My first knowledge of the Gun Club was when I saw an article in the newspaper about the Rec. District meeting.
The Gun Club was inactive except for the indoor range. The indoor range officer was Bill Schaffer.
The spring of 1978, the Rec. District had a meeting to discuss the $15,000.00 that Larimer County had given them to build a Trap Range at Common Point. The money had been deposited in a CD at the First National Bank for several years. There were members of the Rec. District board who wanted to withdraw the funds, to buy additional golf carts for the 18-hole golf course, since there had been no activity at Common Point for several years. A member of the Rec. District board made the statement that there wasn’t anyone in the Estes Park area that knew how to build a Trap Range. I advised them that I was an ATA approved Trap Shooting instructor and I had shot and instructed Trap Shooting when I lived in Virginia. I told them that I indeed knew how to build a Trap Range.
Besides myself there were other shooters at that meeting, Bill Shaffer, Bur Spurlock, Mike McEneny, John Marks and Ray Curry. I was elected president of the Gun Club and was assigned the duty by both the Rec. District and the Gun Club to plan and build the Trap Range at the Common Point Range. I called the NRA for an assessment of the area and they sent a Range Specialist, at our expense, from Washington DC to advise us on the location for the Trap, Rifle and Pistol Ranges. We followed his advice and put them where he suggested.
We went to the Rec. District manager, Bob Diers, to get the property description and survey of the Common Point area. It turned out that the Rec. District had hired a survey firm in town that was owned by one of the Rec. District Board members, Tom Brown, who wanted the $15,000.00 to purchase additional golf carts. There was record of $3,000.00 being paid to Tom Brown’s firm for a survey, however the survey was never done! We found the pins that the US Government had installed when they finished the Common Point project. We then surveyed the Trap Range area. A D9 Caterpillar was ordered to do the earth moving work. The day that the earth moving was to start, the D9 didn’t show up. We checked, and found out that the board member, Tom Brown, which wanted the golf carts and was supposed to have done the survey had canceled the earth moving work! Mike McEneny went to Tom Brown’s office and advised him if he kept interfering we would see him in jail. The D9 showed up the next day and work began, with no more interference. We were advised later, that if we made our living in Estes Park it would be very hard on us. Luckily none of the six of us made our living in Estes Park!
After the earth moving was done, Bill Shaffer, Bur Spurlock, Mike McEney, John Marks, Ray Curry and myself spent the rest of the summer on the end of picks and shovels. We surveyed the range with enough room to be a combination Skeet and Trap range. There had been an old Skeet and Trap range across from the old swimming pool. The High and Low Skeet houses were built out of logs and would have been nice to have at our range, but they were torn down before we could get to them.
We poured the walkways for the Trap Range and then Boyd Williams and the Rec. District maintenance crew, formed and poured the Trap House to our specifications.
I had an FFL License and was able to purchase the Trap Machine for the Rec. District at wholesale.
Upon completion of the Trap Range the Larimer County Commissioners and the Rec. District Board came for an afternoon of shooting Trap. They were well pleased and liked the range.
We didn’t have enough money to buy a supply of clay pigeons so we devised a scheme to sell 50 round cards for $50.00 per card. The five others and myself bought cards and that put us in business.
During the winter we started making plans for the Rifle Range and Pistol Range. The Rifle Range sets on top of the tunnel muck pile from the Big Thompson Project. Before the Big Thompson flood in 1976 the tunnel muck pile extended out to where the road is now. The construction company that rebuilt the highway rebuilt the bridge and asked the Rec. District if they could use the tunnel muck for fill on the highway. They said if they could that they would leave the Common Point area the way that the Rec. District liked. Needless to say, the Rec. District didn’t have a clue and there wasn’t an active Gun Club to make suggestions.
We contacted the National Guard to see if they could help us rebuild the Rifle Range. They said that they could the following summer as two-week active duty training with their heavy equipment, however we would have to pay for the fuel. We didn’t have the money.
I was reelected President, Bill Shaffer Vice President, Bur Spurlock Sec. and Treasure. Mike McEney board member, John Marks board member, Bill Van Horn board member.
That spring Pat Flynn who was a middle school teacher and had developed what he called his Search Program, came to me and asked if we would offer Trap Shooting instruction as part of his program. I said yes.
Pat’s Search Program was from two to four o’clock in the afternoon six weeks in the spring and six weeks in the fall, the children would be excused from school to participate in classes taught by people in the community who had special skills.
That spring we got ten students. I had to use my own and borrowed shotguns to use in the class. When the kids showed up for the first class, I thought to myself Big mistake!!! 12 and 13 year old boys and girls and 12 gauge shotguns – they couldn’t handle the recoil. I perched them all on top of the Trap house for a little safety instruction. Before class I had propped up a ¾” piece of plywood 18″ by 18″ out in front of the Trap house. I had my pump shotgun and showed them that the chamber was empty and told them to always treat a gun as loaded even if they knew it wasn’t. As I was talking, unknown to them, I slipped a shell into the chamber and had an accident, I had shot a hole through the plywood about 3″ in diameter. I have never heard children so quiet. I passed the board to them and asked them to place the board over their chest and to feel how hard the board was, it really impressed them. We never had an unsafe moment through the entire six weeks. When the six weeks ended they wanted more and was I wrong about them not being able to handle a 12 gauge shotgun. They were smoking clay pigeons left and right!
We installed shooting backstops on the pistol and rifle range and installed shooting tables at the 50 yard, 100 yard and 200 yard stations on the rifle range.
I contacted Remington Arms district Rep. Dave Chamberland in Kansas City, MO and told him about the search program and what we were trying to do with the kids. I asked Dave if Remington could help us out. Dave said that he could send to us four Trap Grade Model 1100 automatic 12 gauge, one Trap Grade Model 870 pump 12 gauge and one Model 1100 automatic 20 gauge shotguns plus 500 empty 12 gauge hulls to teach reloading. Dave said that Remington would give the school and the gun club the guns for one year at no charge, provided we send them two 35mm slides of the kids using Remington guns. Then at the end of the year the school or the gun club could buy the guns form Remington at their cost to produce the guns and then we could request the same program again the next year. The school declined and the gun club voted to purchase the guns. We used those guns in the search program for several years.
I’ve seen some of those kids as adults and they always tell me how much they enjoyed learning to shot trap and that they still shot trap.
1980, 1981, 1982
These three years were pretty much normal club activities, various shoots and meetings. By this time the club had grown to approx. 100 members.
I left Estes Park for a year.
I came back to Estes Park and was elected Gun Club President again for one year.
ESTES PARK GUN & ARCHERY CLUB
by Bur Spurlock, January 25, 1982
The best records I find show that this Club was organized in 1969. The first check drawn on the Club checking account was April 21, 1969 to the National Rifle Association for the Charter fee and a membership in the NRA for Norman Putt.
The following are the names listed as those who became charter life members of the Club:
K.S. (Mike) Michael
Bill Van Horn
Dr. A.L. French
In addition to these life members there were twenty annual members in 1969.
The Club’s first Turkey Shoot was held during the fall of 1969.
The Club requested financial help from the Town Board for construction of the building for the indoor range. This was granted, apparently in the amount of $1,500 (1-27-71). Construction started about April 1970. A Hunter’s Safety course was held in the new building in January 1971 although the temporary backstop was too light for anything larger than 22 caliber. Steel for the permanent backstop was purchased in June 1971 and was installed by welder(s?) from RMNP.
The Club is a nonprofit corporation in the State of Colorado. Its articles of incorporation were filed with the Secretary of State on February 11, 1970.
The Club is exempt from Federal income tax under the I.R. Code: Section 501(c): (4). Confirmation of this was received in a letter of October 12, 1970 from the Internal Revenue Service. The employer identification number is on file.
Liability insurance has been carried with Carpenter Insurance Service since the fall of 1969. The current  ]level of coverage is one million dollars.
Construction of the trap range at the Common Point area was completed in 1981. First shoot, for those who worked on the project was held on August 27, 1981.
Note: Original report is archived with the Club’s historical documents and retyped to be viewed on the website.