Not bad for the NY Times

Not bad for the NY Times

This is a discussion on Not bad for the NY Times within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Or the AP for that matter. The N.R.A. Whittington Center Shooting Range in New Mexico Caters to All in the Middle of Nowhere The ...

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Thread: Not bad for the NY Times

  1. #1
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    Array DaveH's Avatar
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    Not bad for the NY Times

    Or the AP for that matter.

    The N.R.A. Whittington Center Shooting Range in New Mexico Caters to All in the Middle of Nowhere

    The N.R.A. Whittington Center Shooting Range in New Mexico Caters to All in the Middle of Nowhere
    Published: May 2, 2009

    RATON, N.M. (AP) — It is billed as the largest and most comprehensive shooting facility in the United States.

    The National Rifle Association’s Whittington Center in northeastern New Mexico is devoted to the competitive, recreational and educational uses of firearms ranging from pistols to hunting rifles.

    “There are lots of smaller ranges across the country, but nothing I’m aware of, other than getting onto a military facility, that has as large an operation as we do,” the executive director Wayne Armacost said.

    And do not get hung up on the first three letters in its name.

    Armacost said that while the N.R.A’s initials are part of the facility’s name, the center does not venture into Second Amendment politics and you do not have to be an N.R.A. member to visit.

    “The N.R.A. doesn’t run this facility,” he said. “Our mission is education and outdoor recreation. We are not politically motivated. The N.R.A. doesn’t underwrite us. They don’t fund our operations in any way.”

    The 33,000-acre site — only 10 percent of which is developed — is named for the late N.R.A. president George R. Whittington. It opened in 1973 after the former New Mexico governor Bruce King traveled to N.R.A. headquarters in Fairfax, Va., and successfully lobbied board members to choose his state for the facility.

    By 1977, when the N.R.A. was escalating its involvement in national politics, the organization established a special contribution fund to make the shooting center self-sufficient.

    “We stay out of politics,” Armacost said. “It is part of our charter. We could jeopardize our nonprofit status by making political statements.”

    There are 15 shooting ranges covering various distances, including a 1,000-yard range for high-powered rifles, silhouette ranges, ranges for shotguns and muzzleloaders, and a range for law enforcement officers.

    “They accommodate everything from skeet to archery,” said Jeff Encinias, manager at Elite Sporting Goods in Raton, N.M.

    There is also a cafeteria and classrooms.

    The center has had more than one million visitors, and not all were toting guns.

    Top attractions are recreational shooting and guided hunts, but there is also camping, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Artists rent cabins to take photographs of wildlife or paint landscapes.

    “Yes, we are a hunting and shooting facility, but there’s so much more you can do,” said Armacost, a Maryland native who moved west in 2005 after graduating from Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y.

    The center has been a boon during tough times for Raton, a blue-collar town of 7,000 residents that historically relied on coal mining. These days, shooting enthusiasts prop up the economy.

    Community officials estimate a $7 million annual impact from the shooting range.

    “We get a lot of business because of the Whittington Center,” Encinias said. “They have a lot of shoots and events, which helps us out quite a bit.”

    The center is in the foothills of the Valle Vidal range, equidistant from Denver, Albuquerque and Amarillo, Tex.

    “If you’re into hunting, it’s heaven here,” Jennifer Wiseman, the director of the Raton Chamber of Commerce, said.

    Historic ruts of the Santa Fe Trail run past the center’s administration building, which includes a gift shop, a firearms museum and a library. The site is below Red River Peak, a landmark for pioneers on the trail.

    Armacost said 122,000 guests visited last year, a significant drop from 180,000 in 2007, which he attributed to last summer’s higher gasoline prices.

    This year, he is projecting 150,000 visitors based on entries for several national championship shooting competitions. Whatever the number, those folks pump cash into Raton’s hotels, restaurants and gasoline stations.

    “We don’t underestimate the value, the impact, that the Whittington Center has on Raton, especially from May through October, when their bigger shoots and competitions are held,” Wiseman said.

    Visitors, who have come from all 50 states and from many countries, can choose lodging in Raton, but the facility offers full-service hookups for 175 recreational vehicles, as well as rooms, primitive campgrounds and remote backcountry cabins.

    Armacost said he did not believe the center had seen any measurable boost in activities or interest based on an increase in firearms sales since President Obama’s election.

    “Where we live in the country, people have always been interested and enthusiastic about firearms,” Armacost said. “We are not being overrun by people wanting to come out and shoot their new guns.”

    Armacost said the center’s youth adventure camp is growing in popularity, with 96 children firing 174,000 rounds last year. The site has hosted women’s groups, teaching firearms safety and outdoor skills.

    Boy Scouts visit often, detouring from the nearby Philmont Scout Ranch.

    “It’s all about education,” Armacost said.

    The Whittington Center’s mission is simple: Provide shooters with the nation’s finest facility.

    “Some people say Raton is in the middle of nowhere, but I prefer to say we’re in the middle of everything,” Armacost said. “For a good portion of our country, it’s a day’s drive and you can be here.”
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Array Phillep Harding's Avatar
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    He's not an NRA member, I guess

    Wayne Armacost sounds like he does not know why the NRA created the ILA, or why Clinton had a constant stream of auditors bugging the NRA, and what they were looking for.

  3. #3
    Distinguished Member Array lacrosse50's Avatar
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    Interesting article. I'd never heard of the N.R.A. Whittington Center. Thanks for the post!
    The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
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    I've been through Raton many times, and never saw or heard one peep about this! Never heard of it before! I RV'd through the area, and would have enjoyed a nice RV facility like this. Wow. I am speechless.
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