Wyoming World Record Shooter Says Design, Not Wind, Should Be Main Focus For $10M Complex

Wind might be a factor in where to locate a new Wyoming Shooting Complex, but designing it for modern shooting sports could be more important, says a member of Wyoming’s world-record distance shooting team.

Mark Heinz

July 18, 20234 min read

A Wyoming-based long-range rifle team set a world record in September 2022 by hitting a target from 4.4 miles away.
A Wyoming-based long-range rifle team set a world record in September 2022 by hitting a target from 4.4 miles away. (Courtesy Photo)

For anybody trying to stretch a rifle shot out to 1,000 yards or more, wind is inevitably going to be a factor, an expert Wyoming rifleman told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

That means the location of a proposed new $10 million shooting complex in windy Wyoming might not be as important as what the facility has to offer modern shooting sports enthusiasts, said Shephard Humphries.

And Humphries would know.

Along with Schott Austin, he leads the Jackson-Based Nomad Rifle team which last September team pulled off a world record-setting 4.4-mile rifle shot near Pinedale.

Windy Quandary

A shooting complex task force appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon has begun solidifying plans for a new shooting facility, for which the Wyoming Legislature set aside $10 million. The task force also is charged with recommending a location for the complex.

It might be boon for whichever community snags the shooting complex as national and international competitions could bring in big money.

Meanwhile, there’s been some concern raised over how Wyoming’s notorious winds could affect the choice of location for the facility. Winds seem to be the worst around some of Wyoming’s larger cities, such as Cheyenne, Laramie and Casper, meteorologist Don Day recently told Cowboy State Daily

‘Brother Wind’ Will Show Up Anyway

Regardless of location, wind is something ELR (extreme long range) shooters must deal with, Humphries said.

“Yes, wind is certainly a factor, but that is part of the fun of the sport,” he said.

“Our 4.4-mile shot is not normal, and most regular rifle setups will stick to under 2.5 miles for many years to come,” he said. “Unless governments plan to invent a new sanctioned ELR standard or competition, most shooting will be 1,000 yards or less.

“So, at typical ELR shooting distances — 1 mile to 2 miles — wind is to be expected. I have shot in Grand Junction, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada, and anytime there is enough space for a rifleman with a gleam in his eye to reach out beyond 1,000 yards, brother wind seems to also show up.”

Direction Matters More Than Speed

If and when a Wyoming shooting complex is built, Humphries expects “Brother Wind” to be robust.

And when it comes to the Cowboy State’s legendary tempests, direction will matter more than speed to serious shooters, he added.

“The worst winds for a long-range shooter are from behind or coming at the shooter from the area of the target. Consistent 90-degree winds, even if high, are more manageable,’ Humphries said.

2,000 Yards Should Do The Trick

For the shooting complex’s extreme long-range section, a 2,000-yard maximum should do the trick, he said. Most people can’t afford the specialized firearms and equipment required for shots beyond that distance.

“You and I can go to a sporting goods store and buy a $2,000 rifle and a $2,000 scope and go hit a 2,000-yard target fairly easily,” he said.

“Stepping up to 3,000 yards is a huge step in expense, which means that there could be 10,000 people who would shoot 2,000 yards, but only a couple dozen who could put the time and money into shooting 3,000 yards,” Humphries said.

Cater To Modern Sports

It might be vital to design the new complex around modern and popular shooting sports, he added.

Having shooting ranges centered only on plunking traditional targets might not reel in contemporary firearms enthusiasts, he said. Spaces catering to active shooting styles, such as tactical “three-gun” ranges would be a hit.

Three-gun courses challenge shooters to fire rapidly, frequently while on the move, with three main firearms — rifle, shotgun and pistol.

South Dakota Eyes $20 Million Complex

Wyoming isn’t the only state in the region hoping to win bragging rights and draw big crowds with a state-of-the-art shooter’s paradise.

South Dakota wants to build a 400-acre shooting complex near Rapid City.

The original estimated cost was $10 million, but that grew to $12 million, and then jumped to $20 million.

The South Dakota Legislature declined to provide $5 million in seed money for the shooting complex. The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department is trying to finance the project through donations, federal money and other sources.

Mark Heinz can be reached at mark@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter