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This is a long read, ladies and Gents..... But if you're into this sort of thing, it's worth reading.

Part One
Around 1979 I was a dealer for a number of firearms in Montana. I had made a number of aquaintances in the field and we all shared common interests. A number of them enjoyed coming to Lost Prairie simply because of the isolation and a large area in which they could shoot, and that got me thinking. Why not make it more fun that just paper-punching, so............

I mapped out a shooting course. It's too many years ago to remember where I got the pamphlet, but I believe it was called "Courses of Fire". At any rate, it mapped out building entry and room clearing. ........... all active scenarios, but it didn't fit what I wanted to do outdoors, but it did get me thinking. I wanted a 200 yard course of fire, but it had to be diverse and fun to run.

I began with "bunkers" placed every 25 yards down the course. There is a slash pile of lumber out in the south pasture made of mainly rough cut 2x4's that were discards from a logging mill that was here sometime in the early 60's. Ma and I had decided to leave it alone as there were several small birch trees growing from the back side of it. It's still there today, but now only half as high as when we settled here. The years and weather have eroded the wood, and it's collapsing inward on itself, but the Birch trees grew strong and tall. (See photo as of this morning) Those 2x4's were entirely useable with the exception of one side being slightly
rounded and therefore ........ tossed aside by the millwright, but they served my purpose perfectly. Removing the top layer of wood revealed 2x4's that were almost new looking.

The bunkers were built in a triangle with the 2x4's stacked and nailed as you see in the photo with me on top, and built 4' high and every 25 yards downrange. I decided to include a pistol faction into the mix, so there were 18" tall stakes driven into the ground on
he right side and 10' ahead of every bunker. There was a paper plate stapled to the top of each stake with a bullseye in the center and a directive as to the required shooting position for the rifles.

The paper plate required 3 rounds first, and then the stated position required for the rifle shot. 5 rounds were required for the rifles, shot at the 200 yard target downrange. So, the plate with the bullseye, 3 shots and then whichever shooting discipline stated for the rifles....... IE: Prone, Sitting, Kneeling or a braced position from "inside" the bunker. Climb over the 4' structure and use it to rest your rifle for the shots. The plates were changed after each run just to mix it up.

After the 25 yard bunker, a "SWAPO" dummy (explained later) had to be shot and dropped with the shooter's sidearm. Once that was accomplished, the shooter ran up to the 200 yard target and rang a brass bell that hung on the Pistol Swing-Away targets that I'll explain later. that finished the run and stopped the timer carried by the Rangemaster. The Rangemaster followed close behind every shooter making sure of both compliance and safety. Ok..... lotsa fun, but I wanted more.

In the long-lost booklet, it stated that running/movement through the course was designed to tire or stress the shooter, thereby creating something a bit more realistic, so............ I was stumped for the moment until I thought about what I could do besides simply requiring some running. It took a bit of planning, but I decided on a rope bridge and a cable slide before going to the 200 yard bunker.

The rope bridge was comprised of a 1" diameter rope running between two trees that were 34' apart. Two 1/2" ropes ran parallel and 4' up from the 1" rope. It was held together by 1/4" ropes reaved back and forth for the entire length, giving the shooter something to hang on to and stabilize himself. It began 10 feet up in the first tree, accessed by 18" 2x4's nailed to the tree as a "ladder". From there the rope bridge ran slightly uphill to a 2'x2' platform on the second tree about 18' up. From there was a 1/4" steel wound cable that ran from 5 1/2' above the platform, 60' downrange where it stopped 5 1/2' from the ground. The shooter ran the cable on a "T" bar with a steel pulley over the cable. Depending on the shooter's weight........It was a fast ride.

From there where it ended at mid-range, the shooter then ran back to the 200 yard bunker and continued the timed run and
followed the paper plate instructions. I ran it a number of times just to check both feasabilty of the design and safety. It worked!

So..... The SWAPO dummy. Dierk is going to know who they were for sure, but for the rest of us Great Unwashed.... SWAPO was the South West African People's Organization...... IE: Essentially, terrorists of the worst kind. The dummy is pictured, and any shot to the head or upper torso would cause the dummy to fall to the ground. +See the Illustration+

Once complete, I passed "the word". It was to be a closed club, available to anyone who passed "muster".... MY muster as pertains to character and level headedness. I can't remember how many I turned away for a variety of good reasons, but we ended up with a nominal 26 active members, .... a mixture of both blues and white collar types. The purpose of the club was two-fold. To have fun, test our progressing skills and F&F for those requiring it. F&F is Familiarization and Function of their chosen firearms. I was more than familiar with all legally available military type rifles and (back in those days) the available semi-auto pistols. Today? ....... not so much. Too many new ones out there to know the solid ins and outs of breaking them down for field service. ......yeah, well........ Age and not being in all the current loops.

Ok, Gents........... This is part One. I need a few hours of Austrailian Dream Cream on my hands and wrists to type any more. Back with the continuance of this later today. I'll add photos of the still extant part of the old range later. It's still there, albeit in sad condition.
BTW........... If you have my kind of problem......... that Aussie schtuff really does work!



Part 1.5...... If I were still capable of producing tears, this would have done it. I walked out to the old range on the back of the place and took some photos. I'll wager it's been an easy 25 years since I last visited that range. I actually found the still living tree with the old ladder climb, with half the rungs missing. I also found the still living tree that was the end of the Rope Bridge, and......... The tree had actually grown around the rope!!!

The range backstop ...itself is collapsed down to half it's original height, and I was surprised to see the old SWAPO dummy setup was still there lying on the ground. Even the old Swing Away target frame was still there , also lying on the ground.

The entire area is now overgrown with substantially large trees. That entire range brought me right up to the reality of all those years gone by.

Look closely at the photos and you'll see everything I just described.


Part Two:

So.......... with a membership of 26 or so, we set the rules. Nothing in battery until the beginning of a run. While on the bridge, slide and
running between bunkers, both rifle and pistol on "safe" with pistol holstered and rifle slung. No exceptions.
First violation is a zero for the course and you leave the range. Second violation means termination of membership.

No Alcohol no smoking, no guests, no children or dogs, no firearms that are not approved. Firearms to be used must be registered on your application. New firearm..... it gets added to the registration. No ballistic, tracer or armour piercin rounds allowed.
Let the fun begin.

I have individual membership stories to relate later. Some of them are hilarious.
Once every 3 months we had a competition shoot. First place won sometimes a Ruger 10/.22, sometimes 1,000 rounds of the winners choice, sometimes things like .45 caliber miniature brass cannons, scopes, binoculars,..... lots of cool schtuff. It was fun and competetive. Scores were a compilation of main target hits, pistol hits, following correct bunker discipline directions and time.

First year was a huge success, and many first timers learned F&F for their pistols and even CC instruction that was approved by the Sheriff. Then............ Sometime in the second summer, along comes this guy from the Daily Interlake. He has somehow heard about us.
Despite the signs at the gate, he came down the road up to the house. He wanted to take photos and and interview. Absolutely not! He wanted to speak to members. Absolutely not! In fact, a few of the guys had told me they weren't happy about this situation. Those white collars in particular. I walked him to his car and waited till he drove off.

I didn't know it then, but this was the end of the shooting club. This reporter waited outside the gate on the county road and attempted to stop cars exiting to ask questions. I was later told that nobody stopped and he was pretty angry. I wasn't feeling very good and so I did one of the things that relaxed me. I sat on one of the bunkers and did some shooting with the .308 Valmet M76. I had not noticed that he had set up a camera on a bipod out on the county road and began taking pictures. He stopped when a neighbor driving by got my attention by repeatedly blowing his truck horn. I looked up, saw the guy hurriedly packing his gear and took off down the county road. I promptly forgot about it.

We have never gotten the Daily Interlake out here, so I was surprised when the phone began ringing, anf the message was the same.
"Have you seen the two page spread in the Sunday edition of the Interlake?" I hadn't but I drove the 15 miles to Hilltop in Marion to get a copy. There I was in all my glory shooting after the last meet................ that sucker had used a telescopic lens and photographed me.
The worst part was a full page written article about the range, the club and me, ALL of it fabricated from conjecture and pure
guesswork............ and all of it dead wrong. The story intimation is that I was "training mercs." LOL yeah....... That's me alright.

Monday morning I was right there waiting for the then editor, Bob Black to get into his office......... and I was loaded for bear. I read him the riot act, let him know that I was suing the Interlake for defamation and a purely fabricated article along with 4 other members who had decided to join the suit. He claimed that he had no idea that the article had been written and that the next (wednesday) edition would print a full retraction and apology.

Do you have an Obituary section in your newspaper? I'd always heard about retractions for anything being printed there, but until I actually saw the one on me, I'd not have beleived it. Essentially it said "The story on Pierre St.Marie and his shooting club published in last Sunday's Interlake was unauthorized and completely erronious. The Daily Intelake offers it's sincere apologies for any unpleasantness it may have caused Mr. St.Marie or his family" That was it. Nothing more, but my attorney told me it was enough to absolve Black of liability.

So............... with a very unhappy membership, I closed the range. I think that full article is still here somewhere, but it was a very long time ago. I thought it was with the photo, but apparently it got separated. I continued on with instructions for CC candidates, but the club was gone, and I deeply regret that. It was both fun and instructional, but when the Libs get hold of a story with spin potential like that one........ they will play it to death. Valmet.jpg IMG_3122.JPG IMG_3125.JPG IMG_3126.JPG
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Wow great (sad) story. Gotta love the media and it's war against what made this country the best and most feared.
Now the media is the new monarcy.

It's owns everything and can make or break anything with half truths or out right lies.
Own the propaganda and you own the world.

Not sure when the last time was I saw facts and true news on the actual news

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