When Match Director Alex Ragulsky warned me that the Kiowa, Colo., range is rustic, I prepared myself. Don't get me wrong, as long as there's a backstop and targets to shoot, I am game. Joining local shooters and members of the U.S. Border Patrol Shooting Team, we drove miles down a gravel road to a private range not far from the towering Rocky Mountains for the opportunity to test ourselves on this challenging course of fire.
U.S. Border Patrol Team shooters tackling the Barricades.
Yes, the range is rural and though small, it is mighty. Only one event can be shot at a time, but it's a masterful layout that makes the most of a small space. Range owner, Todd Travis, shared how he chose the specific location on the property, a dry river bed that served as a perfect starting point. A bit of dirt work created the primary backstop for Plates, Practical and Barricades. The Moving Target stretches across the side berm. This generous landowner, with a dedicated match director and staff, made it all possible.
When I asked Alex how it all started, he shared the story of how he and Todd began shooting Action Pistol a decade ago. A desire to have a place to train and teach led Todd to purchase the property. According to Alex, "There was never any intent to hold any matches there, let alone a state match. But my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I started hosting practice sessions and the natural progression was an approved match. We were the first range to host an approved NRA Action Pistol match in Colorado."
The set-up is smart, with yard lines that are clearly marked for each event. The plate rack stands on the right side of the range. A series of three barricades remain fixed at the 35-yard line with lanes for the Practical set between them. Using just one barricade per shooter, the range uses a two-in-one target stand made from PVC that position the targets to the correct specifications. Designed for two-person carry and set along the centerline, moving these stands between strings allows three competitors to shoot on the line at once. The string-run Moving Target brings it all together—providing local competitors a great place to not only train for Bianchi Cup, but also host a State Championship.
On their way to Raton, N.M., for a Police Pistol Championship (PPC), members of the U.S. Border Patrol Shooting Team jumped at the opportunity to add some action pistol to their trip. They teased one another relentlessly to increase pressure, and put on a great showing with top performances in multiple divisions. Tony Simmons took first among his teammates with a High Open Revolver score of 1864-139X, while Adam Kovatch placed first in Production Optics with 1859-110X. Michael Del Zoppo had the top score in Metallic with 1829-104X and in Production with 1748-91X.
I brought my family with me on the trip and shot well enough to earn my first overall title at an action pistol major. After a fun day of shooting, we spent the next couple of days sightseeing with a trip to Colorado Springs and up to Pike’s Peak. It was a wonderful way to combine a competition with family time.
According to Alex, the 2021 Colorado State Action Pistol Championships isn't a one-and-done deal. Excited about the turnout and support, he shared feedback from the match.
"You saw my friends hanging targets, scoring, dragging target stands, picking up and so many other things that happened. The positive emails and the suggestions, the diet root beers, coffee cups, and handshakes ... so much! I want to elevate our standards so that every year is a little better than the last. It will mean more creativity, such as half-day squads, equal division of sponsorship donations, new barricades and the like."
With dedicated local competitors and ideas for improvements, there's a plan in motion. Interested in adding this to your match schedule in 2022? You will put miles on a vehicle and it is a bit of a trek from the nearest hotel. Make a trip of it, see the sights in Colorado and enjoy a great day of shooting, too.
2021 Colorado State Action Pistol Championship Leaderboard
Overall, Open and Lady - Julie Golob
Metallic and Production - Michael Del Zoppo
Production Optics - Adam Kovatch
Revolver - Tony Simmons
Rimfire, Law Enforcement and Senior - Alex Ragulsky