National Rifle League again takes aim at Craig with Mile-High Shootout |

National Rifle League again takes aim at Craig with Mile-High Shootout

CRAIG – The National Rifle League reloaded and returned to Craig for the second annual Mile-High Shootout Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22. The shootout was one of 16 rifle shooting events the league holds across the country.

The Rifle League is a nonprofit that wants to grow shooting sports and educate people about precision rifle shooting through outdoor activities, Rifle League President Travis Ishida said. He said he picked Craig as one of the organization’s shootout locations after meeting with Rifle League board member and Moffat County resident Rob Quigley. The two worked together to organize the first shootout in 2017.

Ishida said Craig — with its vast open spaces — is an ideal area for the shootout, offering ample room to set up targets at long distances and accommodate all the shooters — usually about 100 — who participates in the shootouts. The shootout offered about 11 different shooting stations with targets as far as 1,350 yards.

Another reason Craig was deemed a good location for the event is the rocky terrain surrounding the area, Ishida said. Shooters can shoot without having to worry about the bullet hitting something they didn’t intend to hit. On flatlands, that could be an issue.

“The league wants to establish certain safety standards and safety,” Ishida said. “We’ll try to expand as much as the sport demands.”

Precision shooting requires shooters to factor in wind conditions, bullet drop and trajectory, Ishida explained. Successful calculation of all these elements will determine success, he said.

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Participants are divided into 10-man squads of different skill levels, who shoot together at a stations, then rotate to a different station. Experienced shooters often give new shooters advice and have a strong sense of camaraderie.

Scoring is determined by points earned at each shootout a shooter participates in, Ishida said. Shooters trying to qualify for the championship must participate in at least three shootouts; if they participate in more, their top three scores are summed to arrive a an overall total. There are also qualifiers for women and shooters age 18 and younger.

The top five shooters at the Mile-High Shootout were Jake Vibbert, with 179 points; Jon Pynch, with 169 points; Jerry Karloff, with 162 points; Austin Orgain, with 160 points; and Rusty Ulmer, with 152 points.

“The people here in Craig have been every supportive,” Ishida said. “They really helped making it a success last year, and we’ll most likely come back again next year.”

Bison Tactical owner and shooter Fred Barton, of Boulder, said his company decided to sponsor this year’s shootout because he had a lot of fun at last year’s event. Barton has been shooting competitively for about seven years and shoots semi-automatic AR-15 and M1A rifles.

Barton said he sees valuable learning opportunities at the shootout, adding it is very close to hunting, as it focuses on the same skills.

“They help improve shooting skills, help make better shots and … (enable) better decisions before you pull the trigger,” Barton explained. “For example, when I was hunting, I was able to shoot an elk about 500 meters away from me. Shooters can learn from this if they are able to make the shot from that distance and make a well-informed shot.”