On the Mark – Ruby Valley Gun Club, in business for more than a century

John Knapton squeezes off a round at the Ruby Valley Gun Club rifle range last week.   Photo by Greg Lemon

John Knapton squeezes off a round at the Ruby Valley Gun Club rifle range last week. Photo by Greg Lemon

If you’re looking for a place to sight in your hunting rifle and shoot some trap, you might think about joining the Ruby Valley Gun Club.

The gun club is one of the oldest in the state and recently moved to a picturesque spot between Sheridan and Twin Bridges on the Bradley Ranch. The spot, which is located above Highway 287 off of Dry Georgia Road, is nestled under the Tobacco Root Mountains and has a commanding view of the lower Ruby Valley.

The Ruby Valley Gun Club has about 60 members and a long history in the area, said member Jim Kaatz from Sheridan.

Sunni Heikes-Knapton (left) and her husband John Knapton from Ennis sight in their rifles at the Ruby Valley Gun Club rifle range last week.  Photo by Greg Lemon

Sunni Heikes-Knapton (left) and her husband John Knapton from Ennis sight in their rifles at the Ruby Valley Gun Club rifle range last week. Photo by Greg Lemon

The gun club was formerly known as The Sheridan Trap and Wildlife Club and began in 1901, Kaatz said.

For many years the club focused on trap shooting and had facilities just on the edge of Sheridan on land owned by the Schulz family, he said.

In 2006, the Schulz family was looking to sell the land and so the gun club began looking for a new home.

The spot off of Dry Georgia Road now provides club members with a rifle and pistol range, which was never available at the old facility, Kaatz said.

The rifle and pistol range has 100-yard targets with a gravel back stop and covered shooting benches.

Along with gun club members, the range is open for Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks game wardens and Madison County Sheriff Deputies for training, he said.

The club had four trap houses at the old facility in Sheridan and now only have one. However, the group is continuing to apply for grants to build more trap houses, Kaatz said. The goal is to ultimately have four trap houses so it can host Amateur Trap Shooting Association sanctioned events.

The gun club has a trap-shooting league that had four teams last summer, he said.

The new facility was funded, in part, by a FWP grant and is still a work in progress. Last week, Kaatz was working on remodeling a small building donated to the gun club to serve as a clubhouse.

The group is applying for more grants to continue their expansion, he said.

All the labor on the project, which started in 2007, has been from volunteers, Kaatz said.

“There wasn’t anything out here but prairie when we started,” he said.

The only setback in building the new range and trap house was the lack of water. The gun club tried to drill a well to provide water to the bathrooms and clubhouse, but weren’t able to find water after drilling 360 feet, he said.

Membership to the Ruby Valley Gun Club is $30 a year per person or $40 a family. The dues allow you use of the rifle and pistol range, and access to trap shoots. For more information about the gun club, contact Kaatz at 842-5960.

The importance of being accurate

Antelope general season opened Oct. 9 and the general big game season opener is Oct. 23, which means it is time to get your rifle sighted in.

Hunters ought to check the accuracy of their rifles every year, said Rob Gallentine, owner of Shedhorn Sports in Ennis.

Many things can change your rifle’s accuracy, from a casual bump to a good cleaning, Gallentine said.

Generally, the accepted way to sight in your rifle is to shoot at a target 100 yards away, he said. It’s important while sighting in that you have a stable rest, which takes away the human element and provides as true of shot as possible.

Also, each brand of bullets shoots slightly different. So if you switch bullets, make sure your rifle is still shooting where it should.

“If you start switching bullets and weights, it makes a difference,” Gallentine said.

A common misconception is a bore-sighted scope is accurate. Bore sighting is a method of getting your scope to shoot within eight inches of the bulls eye at 25 yards, he said.

Another trick to sighting in a rifle that is way off or has a brand new scope is to shoot first at a target 25 yards away. If you can shoot one inch low at 25 yards, your rifle should be about six to eight inches high at 100 yards, Gallentine said.

Also, a freshly cleaned rifled can shoot inaccurately. A good tip is once you get your rifle shooting where you want it for the season, don’t run a cleaning rod through the barrel until the season is over, he said. Unless of course the gun gets wet in the rain or snow.

For more tips about sighting in your rifle, Gallentine is happy to answer questions, he said.

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