Back in the early 1970s Colonel Jeff Cooper started the American Pistol Institute, now known as Gunsite Academy. Today Gunsite is known worldwide for firearms training, from a quality facility with top notch instructors and staff. Some of the best warriors have attended and continue to train there.
Recently I was invited to by Dick Williams to attend a three-day writer event held at Gunsite employing handguns.
The morning started in the classroom with instructions of our instructors Lew Gosnell and Ed Head. Every class starts with the Pledge of Allegiances, a review of the Four Rules of gun safety rules and breakdown of the course curriculum.
Terrain in the hunting are of the Dunton Ranch consists of huge granite boulders and thick junipers. Although not especially strenuous, it is challenging.
Being a writer’s event, attendees were able to work with different weapon types and calibers. The first day I was shooting my Springfield Amory .45 ACP 1911.
The first day was spent on one of the square ranges, starting with one round at close distance and moving back slowly.
After lunch we performed different drills firing multiple rounds at different distances and working performing both tactical reloads, as well as running the gun for emergency reloads. Before every drill clear instructions and demonstrations were provided. Lew and Ed were happy to answer any questions throughout the three days.
The second day started with most students using a different handgun. I choose to shoot my Ruger Vaquero chambered in .45 Colt.
To start, with most of the drills where going to be the same as the first day, however, as most of the class were shooting single-actions, it was clear that working through the same problems took longer and we had to think through the drill rather than just react.
It was a good chance to work through drills with a weapon that many folks carry in the field, but don’t plan on using for a self-defense. If that is all you have with you, however, it’s better to have some practical training to go alone with it.
Denny Hansen use his Ruger Ranch rifle chambered in .450 Bushmaster equipped with a Vortex Viper PST 1-6X24 scope and Galco Safari Sling, and Hornady’s 250-grain FTX bullet.
Brando Trevino used the recently released Ruger AR-556® Multi-Purpose Rifle chambered in .450 Bushmaster, thermal scope and Hornady ammo.
Author used Ruger Redhawk in .45 Colt with DoubleTap Ammunition with 335-gr. hardcast +P loads. Holster is Galco DAO, cartridge slide by Simply Rugged Holsters.
After lunch on the second day Lew and Ed moved the class to a different outdoor range known as the Scrambler. Here, students take shots at different steel targets from different ranges and different shooting positions.
During this drill students shot one at a time. The drill is to take no more than two shots at a target under time and any missed added time to your run.
Later that day we finished with a run in one of the indoor simulators. Here the students where able to encounter different problems such as doors, windows, hallways, blind corners and shoot or no shoot targets—some in the same room.
Building clearing is always best to be left alone to the professionals and that should be done with a partner or a team but you may have no choice and need to know how to move around through or around a building.
This is where Gunsite’s facilities are
far ahead of most shooting schools
This is where Gunsite’s facilities are far ahead of most shooting schools and coached people that have been “there and done that” in real life.
On the third and final day the class chose was run with double-action revolvers. I chose to shoot a Ruger Redhawk chambered is .45 Colt.
We worked through the same drills as the first two days but it was fun to see how different shooters ran the same drills with different guns. After lunch we went back to one of the indoor. We used the same shoothouse, but the range staff changed the lay out of the floor plan, so while it was the same house the changes gave it a totally different appearance. The day ended with a debriefing.
I have always come away from Gunsite taking away new information. I have never had better training and the staff can’t be beaten. With over 40 years of continuous operation, Gunsite has stood the test of time.
PUTTING LEARNED SKILL TO USE
After the class, for those students who wished to attend, Ruger and DoubleTap Ammunition sponsored a hunt at the Dunton Ranch, North Fort Rock, in Kingman Arizona.
My dad, Denny Hansen, and I met up with Dick Williams at the ranch around mid morning. The other writers included Aimee Grant (FMG publications), Joanne Conn, and Brandon Trevino (Ruger) arrived throughout the rest of the day.
The facility has a very nice a three bedroom ranch house and a few smaller cabins. All have outdoor grills and front porches making it very nice to kick back and relax in the Arizona evening. There is even a safe backstop to confirm zero of your weapon.
Attendees of the Gunsite course who attended the hunt were (clockwise from left) Aimee Grant, Joanne Conn, Flint Hansen, Dick Williams, Denny Hansen and Brandon Trevino.
Our guides showed up to take the hunters our for an evening hunt. The hunt was for either a feral hog or a Corsican ram.
Within the hour Aden had us on some hogs in small groups of three-five. Being our first night, we chose to pass on these as we were enjoying getting to know the country and see the ranch’s layout.
I know that other hunters in other the party passed on shots their guide spotted for the same reason. At the end of the evening our guides dropped us back at our camp and asked if it would be OK to pick us up at 0600 for the morning hunt.
We agreed and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and enjoying the night BBQing steaks and conversing with the other hunters.
The next morning at our guide was there and ready to go. We drove out with, Dad, Brandon Trevino and myself.
I chose to hunt with Ruger Redhawk for my first handgun hunt. Living on a ranch I had used a handgun many times coming up a predators, snakes, rabbits and butchering beef and pigs, but never with the sole purpose of hunting with just a handgun.
DoubleTap Ammunition supplied me with 335-gr. hardcast +P .45 Colt. This load chronographs at 1,250 feet-per-second and delivers 1,163 ft./lbs of energy from a 7.5-inch barrel.
I took a sight picture, held on the center
of the shoulder and pressed the trigger.
Denny Hansen took his Ruger Ranch rifle chambered in .450 Bushmaster in anticipation of harvesting a hog, but since he has killed hogs with this caliber before, he wanted to take a ram if he saw one he liked, The rifle was equipped with a Vortex Viper PST 1-6X24 scope and Galco Safari Sling, stoked with Hornady’s 250-grain FTX bullet.
Brandon used the recently released Ruger AR-556® Multi-Purpose Rifle (“MPR”) chambered in .450 Bushmaster equipped with a thermal scope and Hornady ammo.
Right at daylight we spotted a group of rams. Dad and Aden stalked and tracked the group as Brandon and I followed along behind not wanting to create more noise or get in front of the group.
At 7:05 a.m. we heard a loud boom and I said, “Well, Dad just filled his tag.” And fill it he did with a beautiful Corsican ram taken at around 95 yards. We loaded the ram into the hunting buggy and returned to the ranch where Aden quickly field dressed the ram and we were back in the field hunting by 8:15.
Around 9:00 we spotted a group of hogs near one of the waterers. Brandon and Aden stalked up and around the hogs to get a shot as I stayed below expecting the pigs to run past me if Brandon got a shot.
I saw them take up a position from a high point on a rock and Brandon took his shot and filled his tag. I could hear the hogs tapping the ground and grunting, but had no visual where or how far they as I started moving in on them. Aden joined up with me as we continued walking in on them.
Author with his Russian boar. Ruger Redhawk and DoubleTap hardcast ammo proved to be an awesome combination.
Brandon Trevino with the new Ruger AR-556® Multi-Purpose Rifle chambered in .450 Bushmaster and his Russian boar.
Denny Hansen with the Corsican ram he harvested on Dunton Ranch.
Brandon called down to me that one was headed right towards me. So I pulled up and stood still next to a tree for just a moment. A nice boar hog appeared from a clearing about 45 yards showing his head neck and front shoulder I took a sight picture, held on the center of the shoulder and pressed the trigger.
The hog took three or four steps and was out of my sight, but from his vantage point Brandon confirmed that it was down. By 9:30 all of the people in our hunting party had filled tags.
The other hunters met up with us at the watering whole where our guides loaded our pigs in the truck alongside a third hog had taken by Joanne and another Ram taken Aimee.
The fact that everyone in our group harvested an animal by before 10:00 is testament to the skill and experience of our guides.
I stayed to watch and help the game being field dressed and see firsthand the damage the DoubleTap Ammunition did out of the Ruger Red Hawk. Being raised on a cattle ranch growing up hunting and butchering it just came naturally to be there while dressing out the game.
The front shoulder on my hog was broke clear in half. Both, lungs had been liquefied, the heart was cut in half and the bullet broke ribs exiting. I was very impressed witnessing the damage done to a 300 pound hog with the hardcast DoubleTap ammo.
Dunton Ranch has a wonderful set up. If you’re wanting to learn to hunt the guides are true pros and they will but you in the position to harvest your game then help you with field dressing. They even offer to take your game to a meat processor in Williams, Arizona. This is a really nice hunting/working ranch if you are an experienced hunter or a first timer even if you’re out of shape or can’t get around too well, the hunt it not overly strenuous.
I would like to thank Dick Williams, Gunsite, Ruger, DoubleTap Ammunition and the Dunton Ranch for an outstanding week. Also thanks to our great guides.
STURM, RUGER & CO, INC.