Home on the Range
Touring High Bar Homestead, a shooting enthusiast’s paradise
Recently, World of Firepower was invited to attend an exclusive media-only event at High Bar Homestead in April, 2017. Nine other media and press personnel and I attended a three-day production that showcased some new and outstanding products from
Grey Ghost Precision, Hornady Manufacturing, Leupold Optics, Silencerco, and Tactical Night Vision Company.
Being a very small fish in a big pond of “who’s who” in the firearms industry, and an average shooter at best (more on that later), I have never experienced such rockstar treatment at a press event in my short time as a writer. I owe the experience to the graciousness of event sponsor TNVC and the total experience package offered by the Homestead.
Once the event was over, I had an opportunity to speak with Kelsy Gonzales, one of the staff members at High Bar Homestead, who provided me with some background and context of what the High Bar Homestead experience truly is. Before we delve into the event itself, let’s put the company into context.
Chris Tran (CT): How did High Bar Homestead (HBH) come to be?
Kelsy Gonzales (KG): My friend and hunting buddy Drake Clark had been looking for land in Wyoming for the past 10 years. He wanted a place for his family to escape to on the weekends and to call home in his later years. In April of 2016 Drake settled on a 250-acre spread that had previously been the old Surefire small arms training academy. Drake was looking for someone to manage the property full-time; that's where I come in. Shortly after closing the deal and moving into the property, we realized there was a business opportunity. I wanted to share the land with people who would truly appreciate not only the scenery and firearms perspective but the opportunity to partake in an all-inclusive venue that required little to no headache in business/ pleasure logistics.
CT: Can you explain your overall mission philosophy?
KG: The answer is twofold. First, offer a secluded location with all-inclusive services from ground transportation to and from the airport, top-notch food, amazing lodging, a dozen-plus ranges, and access to the entire property via on-site off-road vehicles. Whether our customers are firearms industry professionals or a group of guys looking to do a bachelor party, we provide a turnkey solution.
Second, provide a variety of firearms-related activities. So often today ranges are fairly bland, flat and mundane. Our dozen-plus ranges and close to 1,000 steel targets allow customers to access a variety of shooting opportunities. This includes a 2,000-yard range, paintball and Simunitions shoot house, submachinegun and pistol courses, natural terrain precision ranges, shoot tower, 1,000-yard known distance, and a 1.5-mile walking course with over 100 targets. We only offer one flat range with more than 30 target stands. Everything else is steel and very unique.
CT: Being that HBH is a destination experience for shooters, can you describe the benefits offered for shooters or companies who sign up for the HBH experience?
KG: I've mentioned several already. The all-inclusive price, 40 miles north of Gillette, means [we’re] close to the airport and town but far enough away to be very private. The new lodge accommodates groups of up to 30. Not your boring old ranges, with significant variety, scenery beyond beauty and a first-rate staff. CT: Does HBH have a target market? What is unique about HBH that sets it apart from other locations? Are there other sites that compare to or rival what HBH has to offer?
KG: Our target market consists of two major groups. Firearms industry professionals looking to host media events, sales meetings, VIP retreats, marketing video and photo shoots, matches, product launches and employee training. Private groups for events such as family reunions, weddings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and “man-cations.”
We’ve built a venue that offers so much more than other “stay where you play” ranges. From the comfy memory foam mattresses to the top-notch food, you feel like you're on vacation every minute. Variety is king from a firearms perspective. We control the variables we can control and that's always the first priority.
No doubt there are other ranges out there that offer similar services. I'd be hard pressed to believe any would embrace the spirit of the West while offering a totally unique experience the way we do. We are looking to expand business to the off-road vehicle manufacturers and enthusiasts in 2018. The
“a 250-acre spread that was once the Surefire training academy.”
goal being to offer both four- and two-wheel off-road courses with all the site lodging, food and transport as well.
CT: I was amazed at the diversity of ranges, shooting stations, and experiences available for our group. There were several stations that we didn’t even get to despite the multi-day event. Can you give us a rundown of the stations and courses of fire available?
KG: There’s more than a dozen ranges, and I could talk about them all day.
Quigley’s Rig: This is an 1,800- and 2,000-yard range marked by a 1961 GMC 2 ½-ton flatbed. The shooting positions consist of several prone locations and spotter positions in the rear of the truck. There is an elevation increase of 300 feet from the shooting location to impact zone [for] both the 1,800- and 2,000-yard man sized targets.
1,000-yard known distance: This shooting position consists of five ’50s and ’60s farm trucks, two 1953 Chevys, a 1969 Dodge, and two 1959 Fords—all of which have two shooting benches in the beds. The trucks have had additional stabilization to create a solid foundation. Handcrafted stairs lead to the back of each truck for ease of entry. The range has impact zones and multiple steel targets in hundred-yard increments out to 1,000 yards. This range allows for the shooter to remove the majority of the variables in understanding data for their rifle. It is by far a crowd favorite.
Dixon’s Outlook: This is a natural terrain range that sits atop the high point at High Bar. With 20+ steel targets, the shooter can engage targets out to 600 yards with both high- and low-angle engagements across the valley.
There are multiple shooter positions in both the prone, kneeling and standing position with support in addition to benches.
Diamond Cabaret: Near the top of one of the taller foothills, DC offers high- and low-angle shooting at more than 20 steel targets out to 500 yards. Shooter positions consist of multiple prone areas.
White’s Hill: Set at the base of a small knoll and nestled amongst the Pondarosa pine. This shaded area is a crowd favorite with multiple shooter positions and close to 30 steel targets at ranges from 200 to 500+ yards. The Roost: This 40-foot shoot tower looks down upon a field of 20 steel targets at distances between 200 and 250 yards.
Johnny’s Boneyard: Named after John Noveske, this range is a roughly 1.5-mile single-track trail. It’s not for the faint of heart. With more than 100 steel targets and varying terrain throughout, the shooter can expect to engage targets anywhere between 15 and
150 yards. The Boneyard starts near Johnny’s Bone Shack, a memorial to John Noveske set in a sage brush prairie. Once the shooter makes his way up into the draw, the terrain changes into lush green forest fed by a natural spring. Past the spring, the terrain changes to thick forested foothills.
Hogan’s Alley: This is a fast-paced, high-target range. Set in a 3-acre stand of 10-year-old Pondarosa, this range is littered with steel targets. The shooter moves down the center, engaging steel targets on the left and right.
The Shoot House: This 20-room Simunitions and paintball shoot house includes a movie theater, classroom, and bus-entry scenarios. There are also several vehicles that add to the offering. The external walls of the shoot house are live-fire capable. There are dozens of targets that allow shooters to run the outside perimeter, where they will find half-ipsc drop targets.
Dayl’s Draw: This is a fun course set at the bottom of a 200-yard draw that sits subsurface to the rest of the property, and is lush with hawthorne bushes and plum trees. The shooter will run down a single-track trail and engage falling steel targets along the way.
Puller’s Point: This range allows for shooting carbine or shotgun. A mix of steel targets can be engaged with a carbine out to 200+ yards. Near the shooting position there’s also a clay throwing station for trap and skeet.
100-yard Flat Range: This is the only flat range on the property. At 150 yards wide and with dozens of target stands and steel targets, this hundred-yard flat range can host 40 shooters at once.
CT: Is there anything else you would want readers to know about HBH before they book a shooting experience?
KG: We at High Bar strive to address every need of our customer prior to their arrival. There are a few things that our customers will be responsible for: air transportation to the Campbell County airport, firearms, and ammunition. Everything else is taken care of by us. Whether you’re a firearms industry professional looking for a venue to host your next event, or a regular Joe looking for a guy’s weekend away, we provide a turnkey solution. When Gonzales described High Bar Homestead as a “turnkey solution,” he wasn’t joking. Everything is taken care of. Once I de-boarded my plane and got my luggage, I boarded a chartered bus for the guests and company reps. Once at the Homestead, we were greeted by the HBH staff, given an orientation of the 100% brand-new lodge (Gonzales later told me that the staff was literally cleaning up construction residue and sweeping sawdust up the morning of), found our bunks, and had the rest of the day to socialize, settle in, admire the grandiose views, and eat some wonderfully homecooked food.
The staff was professional, attentive but not overbearing, and very clear in their desire for us to feel at home and relax. I felt more like I was at a friend’s getaway cabin rather than at a high-end media event, right down to the “Whatever is available in the fridge is yours” comments.
The evening culminated in presentations from each of the companies present: Grey Ghost, Leupold Optics, Tactical Night Vision Company, Hornady Manufacturing, and Silencerco.
On Day Two, we awoke for breakfast, a safety briefing, and short presentations from each company on the products they wished to showcase. The weather was beautiful—crisp, cold, clear, and the morning sun offered a bit of warmth as it rose in the sky. We spent the morning shooting on the 1000-yard known distance range. One of my favorite ranges of the event, our shooting platforms were in the beds of the ’50s and ’60s-era trucks. The truck beds provided a stable, slightly elevated shooting platform with sturdy, comfortable benches and plenty of space to move around. Grey Ghost Precision rifles in .308, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 300BLK were plentiful, and those platforms in conjunction with Hornady ammo and crystal-clear Leupold glass made for a great time.
After a lunch break, we broke up into two shooter groups for the afternoon and had a chance to alternate between Johnny’s Bone Yard walking pistol course and an awesome Hogan’s Alley course of fire. Silencerco’s Maxim 9, a full-auto MP5, and Grey Ghost Precision’s new Glock slide platforms were the stars of the show.
After dinner break and a presentation from Tactical Night Vision Company on night vision fundamentals, we bundled up and headed out for night vision shooting, led by Chip Lasky and Don Edwards. Both former SF operators, they led us through an awesome familiarization course of no-light fire that let us all experience the capabilities of TNVC’S products, and an opportunity to experience the superiority of B.E. Meyer’s MAWL platform. It’s safe to say that for all of us with limited experience under NV, the exposure was quite literally eye-opening.
After a couple hours, we expended all the ammo for the night and headed back to the lodge to thaw out, have an adult beverage or two, and settled into the amazingly comfortable beds.
Day Three was our final full day of events, and we all loaded into Polaris Quad Runners and traversed up and through the rolling hills and multiple acres of HBH to the Diamond Cabaret and Dixon’s Outlook precision courses. Shooting prone at no less that 450 yards, we got to enjoy the precision, accuracy, and reliability of Grey Ghost Precision’s rifle platforms, and many of us started to test our own skills at distance. After a lunch break, the second half of the daylight hours left were spent at Puller’s Point, The Roost (a 40-foot tower), and White’s Hill Precision Course. The highlight for me was getting solid shots on steel at 100 yards with Grey Ghost Precision’s Glock slide platforms. Those pistols seriously perform. I was also notably impressed with the coordination, professionalism and laid-back attitude of all the HBH staff. They were extraordinarily accommodating and shooter safety was always at the forefront.
As darkness fell on that final night, we headed back in for an indulgent steak dinner, and then we were back to the 1,000-yard known distance range, perched atop truck beds to shoot using clip-on NV setups. This was a first for me, having never used dedicated clip-on NV scopes before. Ringing steel at 750 yards in total darkness was an amazing experience. If an average shooter like myself could accomplish that, I can’t imagine the terror of being on the receiving end of such mechanical capabilities for enemy combatants facing trained Special Forces operators. Truly awesome.
High Bar Homestead is truly a destination venue and an all-inclusive turnkey solution. Wyoming’s beauty is one thing, yet matched by the modern yet cozy accommodations that HBH has created. It truly is a shooter’s paradise with more diversity in courses of fire and range setups than one could hope for. There were several ranges we didn’t experience (the one with school buses and room structures, for example) and I’m trying to scheme a way to get back to them.
Whether it be for tactical training, enthusiast shooting, precision courses (such as the recent Cabela’s/magpul CORE shoot), corporate getaways or family events, High Bar Homestead is a shooter’s dream come true. Currently, I’m dreaming of Wyoming.
“a shooter’s paradise, with more range setups than you could hope for.”
High Bar Homestead offers all the comforts of home and breathtaking scenery.
The author takes aim at the 1,000-yard known distance rifle range.
Which one would you grab first?
More than a dozen ranges including rifle, pistol, and shotgun are available to High Bar Homestead guests.
Grey Ghost Precision, Hornady Manufacturing, Leupold Optics, Silencerco, and Tactical Night Vision Company offered product to shoot and test at the event.
The Homestead coddles its guests in the lap of luxury.
The view from the top of Dixon’s Cabaret, a rocky outlook nested among Ponderosa pine.
What better way to spend the week with your friends than on a tactical outing on the range?