“Blue Skies & Ranges: Impact of the NRA Whittington Center on a state and a Region”
“Blue Skies & Ranges: NRA Whittington Center – Its Impact on a State & a Nation” – Mark S. McDonald

“Blue Skies & Ranges: NRA Whittington Center – Its Impact on a State & a Nation” – Mark S. McDonald

Assassinations, the Viet Nam war, anti-gun laws, protest marches, riots in the streets. As you stand in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, it’s hard to imagine how violent social and political strife would give rise to a 33,500-acre patch of paradise. But it did.

The Raton, New Mexico area, with its wide-open vistas and the Rocky Mountains for a backdrop, overcame early resistance to quickly win NRA support as the site for a new, world-class shooting complex. Legend has it that George R. Whittington, an oil/gas man from Amarillo, Texas, drove the first surveyor’s stakes for construction.

Such was the modest birth of the NRA Whittington Center.  Inspired by men and women of vision, this world-class shooting complex in the Rockies of northeastern New Mexico, was borne out of deep concern that the shooting sports – even the fundamental right to own a gun – would be diminished, or banned outright. The journey between where the concept began and what the Center has become parallels the remarkable and sometimes bumpy history of the region itself.

This 248-page title published by the Center is chock full of rare photos, original illustrations and tales of yesteryear through today. It’s suitable for any coffee table at home, or office desktop.

As the Center celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2013, several programs were gaining momentum, notably the Adventure Youth Camp, created for kids 13 to 18 years old. Campers not only learn woodsy skills and wildlife management basics, they are taught firearm safety and skills, hands-on. Each day, the campers shoot hundreds of live rounds at some of the safest ranges in the world.

Of equal interest are the lodging options, everything from primitive tent camping to lodges with all the amenities.

The book is dedicated to countless dedicated staff and board members, volunteers, industry sponsors and individual patrons who shared a commitment set forth by the visionary George R. Whittington. Without them, the NRA Whittington Center – and ultimately, this book – would never have been possible. If you have not visited the Center, you should. It’s a national treasure.

(248 pages, published by the NRA Whittington Center, $69.95 covers shipping/handling, too. Checks payable to: NRA Whittington Center, POB 700, Raton, NM  87740. Contact the Center at (575) 445-3615 or email info@nrawc.org)

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