All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!



The Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship formerly the International Tactical Rifle Championship is the long distance shooting event I've been working with for about 4 years now.  Each year I make the pilgrimage to the Bliss Ranch in northern Wyoming / southern Montana to participate.

The event is a two man team display of firearms skill designed to test the shooters ability under field conditions.  Part one of the event is a two day game of sniper golf.  Part two is direct team on team shooting contests.  These games change every year, but normally there are long range egg shoots, exploding targets, man on man spinning plate racks, fast draw work etc.  In the past there has been strafing exercises from helicopters, zip line events etc.
The course of fire consists of four courses which each have between seven or eight shooting stations.  Each course is approximately a mile, give or take, long.  The shooting stations have a variety of steel targets at various unknown distances.  Target size is generally either a 10x10in steel square or a 6in triangle.  The targets are suspended above the ground in such a way as to mimic a live target in a real fire solution situation.  They can be partially concealed behind trees/dead falls, terrain, shadow, or in line with the rising or setting sun.  Yes Frank, Chris and Chuck can be a real pain in the backside.  They do this on purpose. 

Targets are designated as handgun, carbine, rifle or bonus.  The shooting teams walks/runs each course.  The course is timed.  Each team is allowed two hours to solve all of their stations on the course.  There is a minimum of one hour spacing between each team start on each of the courses.  A range officer serves as a safety supervisor and as the official score keeper.  The RO rides/drives a ATV and arrives ahead of the team at each shooting station.  The course is well marked and the shooting stations are well defined. 

Upon arrival at the station the RO informs the team the number and type of targets to be engaged.  Example:  There are 4 pistol, 8 carbine and 6 rifle targets and one bonus rifle target.  The team must locate, guide the RO's attention to, and shoot the targets in the order they indicate.  Typically the pistol targets are cleared first, then the carbine and finally the rifle.  As soon as the RO declares the weapons clear he will lead the team to the next station and the process will repeat until all stations are completed.  Time ends when the team crosses the finish line.

A shooting station may or may not have all four of the different target options.  The course designers change this aspect of the shoot each year.  Typically targets are placed in such a way as to provide a large and realistic set of shooting solutions.  This may look like: A series of handgun targets at ranges of 8 to 35 yards with a smaller bonus target at 45 yards; or, A series of carbine targets scattered over a range of 80 to 500 yards, some of which may be concealed and/or difficult to locate, a bonus target in this case may be a 625 yard target in an area known to have particularly interesting cross winds; or, rifle targets arranged at distances of 100 to 1,200 yards, although typically the distances are inside of 1,000 yards.

The game is played by awarding points for hits and deducting for misses or failing to engage the target.  Each target must be engaged twice.  10 points are awarded for a hit and 10 points are deducted for a miss.  Failure to engage is minus 20 points for each required engagement.  A team will receive 1 point for each minute under par (2 hours) that they finish the course early.   A par score for each of the courses may be between 2,400 to 2,800 points. 

Any type of equipment can be used, except the organizers are not fond of the 50 bmg, or similar rounds that do damage to the targets.  Most shooters don't want to lug around that heavy of rifle anyway.  I don't think I've seen anything bigger than a 338, and I can't imagine wanting to spend two days humping and shooting that rig.  All equipment that a team will use, including for the team on team events must be carried on the precision portion of the course.  That means if the carbine shooter wants to use a bolt action for precision work, he may, however he must pack his AR each day if he wants to use it for action shooting. 

Each course requires a different amount of ammo to engage all the targets twice.  150 rounds of ammo for the carbine is a good amount to pack, but you aren't going to use that much each round.  I wouldn't carry more than 50 rounds of handgun ammo for the course, and a 100 for the rifle.  When it comes to the team on team shooting, I'd bring 250 rounds for handgun.  Normally you won't use that much, but there might be a shoot off situation and having extra is better than not having enough.  Each year they publish a more precise round count before registration begins, as a rule 200 pistol, 300 carbine and 300 rifle seems to be  normal, but more bullets can be more better. 

As long as you want to carry it, all equipment is legal, any scope, spotting scope, bipod, tripod etc is fair game.  Everyone uses a laser range finder, even the legendary Darrell Holland.  If you don't know Darrell, he is the worlds foremost guru on optical range finding.  He's quite the guy when it comes to range estimation.  You'd have to see it to believe it, but he is amazing.  Even he "cheats" and uses a rangefinder.

The entry fee is $300 per person.  If that seems steep that's because you haven't seen the prize table.  The cheap scopes on the table were $800.  They also had some nice Night Force and similar products.  There were a few thousand dollars worth of handguns.  I have no idea how many thousands of dollars worth of ammo or component prizes were up for grabs.  I don't remember what all was available but here are some companies involved: Burris, Berger, Leopold, Night Force, Steiner, Glock, Sierra just name the ones I can think of right now.  There was a ton of grab bag stuff too.  Over half of the entry fees comes back as cash prizes and any overage in fees collected is donated to the Wounded Warriors Fund.  This year they had all the event tee shirts donated, rather than take them as freebies, the guys pitched in $10 a piece and donated the cash to the Wounded Warriors Fund. 

Accommodations for the shoot can be had on the grounds if you want to camp out in your RV or tent, or Frank has a couple of rooms in his bed and breakfast that you can rent on a first come first serve basis.  The closest hotels are about an hour and a half away.  Food can be purchased on the grounds or bring your own.  Alcohol is not allowed during the shoot.  You can have a beer afterwards if you want, but its BYOB.  The ranch is state licensed for a commercial kitchen and hotel but doesn't have a state liquor license.

The shoot is open to anyone who wants to participate.  I've not seen anyone under 18 give it a try.  I'm guessing the oldest team was in their late 60's.  Last year two boys decided that as part of their home schooling curriculum that they would research, build and equip long range shooting rigs.  As far as I know, their families were not "gun" people.  So these two young men earned their own money, designed and built their equipment, taught themselves about ballistics, reloading and (to a lessor degree) shooting.  Being under 21 they could not buy or in their state posses handguns so about 2 weeks before the shoot they got their dads to buy pistols.  They came out and did their best.  Which was pretty good.  They finished in the top part of the lower 50%.  Considering that my coaching session with them (after the shoot) was the first handgun training they had, they did very well.

The normal mix of teams incudes professional shooters, LEO, MIL and sometimes an Operator or two, as well as a good amount of guys retired from those categories, hobbyists, industry reps and when they can work up the courage an internet sniper or two. 

To place in the top third it takes consistent shooting.  50% of the shots are what I would consider "normal" shooting in terms of range and difficulty.  Maybe 20 to 25% of the shots are in the difficult category, with the rest being somewhat between the two.  The second factor to place well is team work.  The spotter/shooter dynamic and communication aids in making first round hits, follow ups and corrections. 

Over the years I've seen a couple of things that hamper most teams, the first is an unwillingness to give up on a missed target.  Guys get convinced that they can hit something and they won't stop trying.  At minus 10 points a miss they won't quit shooting.  The rules require you to try twice, if you miss twice, that's -20 on the score.  If you miss 8 that's -80 points.  This year the most common thing I saw hurting scores was the inability to hit squat with a handgun.  I had good teams that I've RO'd for years display pathetic handgun shooting.  There might only be 24 pistol targets on a course, but a minus 240 on a course of fire worth 2,400 is a 10% drop in overall score, if you hit 100% of the carbine and rifle targets.

Some guys get intimidated when they hear that "professionals" are shooting.  I wouldn't.  If you think a SEAL team or a couple of guys from an unnamed special group are going to automatically win, you'd be wrong.  LEO's ain't what they should be.  There are several hobbyists that routinely out shoot cops.  Also professionals have gear failures all the time.  They may even have more equipment failures than a hobbyist due to the hard use their equipment gets.  I've seen good shooters lose because a barrel decided to go out half way through the shoot.  It is true there are a handful of USMC, Rangers, etc that come out.  Most of them are retired and just having some fun.  When the last time your opponent saw action was Vietnam, there is a chance that your eyesight may be a tad better than his.  

Like most things in life, WTRC is a competition against yourself.  Can you spot, call wind, adjust, shoot consistently and work with your team mate?  If you can, you stand a pretty good chance at finishing well.  Can you own a mistake and not overly commit to a target that you've missed twice?  Then you will keep from sabotaging your own performance.

Give it a try.  Shooting is fun and shooting against others provides a little pressure to preform.  Oh and there is normally a couple of girl teams.  Personally I think it would be more embarrassing to lose to them than to a couple of old RECON guys.


  1. Anonymous1:25 PM

    Thanks for the run-down. I'm definitely interested.

    Im starting my workup list. I'll get back to you in a few months.

    Question: since it is a team thing, do you get all the points if only one member shoot all the targets? other guys is rifle bearer/spotter, etc? or maybe a good pistol guy paired with a long range guy?

  2. Anonymous1:54 PM

    I am confident in my pistol and carbine out to 300M.

    I will need a good rifle and some long range practice, plenty of bullets, and a rangefinder that goes out to 1200.

    Then plan some extra days to drive out there, or find some way to ship my guns and ammo out early. Rent an RV or go primitive -- shipping camp gear, etc.

    And the zip line, plate breaking and sniper golf will be throw away events for me. No place to practice those.

  3. Anonymous1:55 PM

    Is there a bulletin board to pair up single guys into teams?

  4. Most guys put together their own teams. One reason is so they can practice. The other reason is that it allows you to specialize, the carbine shooter will serve as the rifleman's spotter and vis versa. The spotter shooter relationship can win or lose a match so practice helps. You have a definite advantage if you put your own team together because you can structure your skill sets in a way that gives you the best chances at winning.

    That said the two guys that won this year never shot together before the event.

    I would think that you could find a number of willing participants at work. Maybe if you looked around you could scare up someone with easy access to range time. How far are you from Quantico? That oak leaf has to count for something.

  5. Anonymous2:56 PM

    Oak leaf counts for officer rates at quantico shooting club. But we have a year to prepare so I can give it a shot.

  6. patrick kelly9:57 AM

    Wow, gotta' start planning this road trip for next year.....and practicing.....makin' up a good candidate for a teammate, between his bad eyes and my bum knees and elbows should make a good showing in the lies department......

  7. patrick kelly

    Give it a go. I know that with this years event just finished that they haven't got next years plans finalized yet, but I can post links to details as I find out about them.

  8. Sounds interesting.

  9. Anonymous2:06 PM

    Anything there for camp followers to do? Wife is expressing interest.

  10. Mostly they just hang out. There are groups of women who show up, some help out with taking care of little details around the ranch. I don't really know what they do to be honest. Denise would be a better one to ask. Devils Tower and Mount Rushmore aren't too far away and can be used to kill some time if desired. But those are on your way coming or going too. Little Big Horn Battle Field isn't too far away either.

  11. Anonymous7:14 AM

    I've been to little big horn. Not much to see there. You seen one big grassy field, you have seen them all.

  12. True. There isn't much to see in the area as far as tourist type things go. Those are the big three. IF you want to go an hour or so to the west, there is fly fishing in the Big Horns.

  13. Anonymous12:02 PM

    I'm out. Wife just insisted she go along and that will suck all the fun out of the room.


  14. Anonymous12:03 PM

    But I am going to work out as if I am.

    I still expect to expend another thousand rounds this year to practice, and make some forward movement on that long range shot.

  15. Let the wife come. I wouldn't worry about her being along. Get a shooter spotter team together and practice. Have fun with it.