Black Powder Rifle Championships run in a unique, efficient way
Raton, New Mexico - The NRA Whittington Center is purposely a minimalistic kind of place. One of its goals is to preserve and let visitors appreciate the beauty of the New Mexico landscape.
People coming out for hunts or competitions don't want to see buildings littered all over the place - that's what they came here to get away from. There are a few quarters for guests, a couple administration buildings and the museum.
Along those lines, the Black Powder Target Rifle Championships accomplish a lot with a little. Taking advantage of today's technology, a cache of iPhones, a couple laptops, an iPad, thumb drives, radios, portable speakers and a wireless hotspot allow all range and statistical operations to be run out of the back of a truck located at the center of the firing line.
"Thanks to our great, tech savvy staff, these championships are a breeze to run right here on the line," Match Director Jonathan Leighton said. "It's great being right here with the shooters too. They can come up right off their firing points and interact with us. It brings everyone a lot closer."
At places like Camp Perry - which is admittedly bigger - you'll find range towers and auxiliary buildings making sure everything runs smoothly.
"We're all on top of each other, but it works out surprisingly well," said Chief Range Safety Officer Dustin Swartz.
Shooters regularly stop by to say hello or ask a question and really appreciate the accessibility of the whole staff.
The light operation also makes changing stages extremely easy, which allows the competitors to get back to the best part - the shooting - quickly.
"We turn scores around so quickly that shooters can come see them during pit changes," Assistant Match Director Seth Carney told me. "It really helps them follow the match and visualize where everyone is while it's going on."
"With everyone's car or truck backed up to the line for ease of moving equipment, our "office" blends right in," Leighton said. "Of course this wouldn't be possible without all the technology. The shooters' rifles and our gadgets combine in a nice past meets present situation."