Long-Range Shooting: Eastern Deer Hunter Learns Western Rifle Skills

The quest: Take my eastern deer woods rifle skills and stretch them out to Western proportions. I’d typically think twice before pulling the trigger on a home turf whitetail at 200 yards. So drilling a target at 600 yards? 800 yards? 1,000 yards? I’m not sure I had it in me.

Jim McKenzie at the Kessler Canyon Shooting Academy never doubted, though. He compressed what is typically a 3- or 4-day school into a frenetic 18-hour crash course. The setting was off the charts: the Kessler Canyon lodge and shooting school is smack in the remote heart of a 15-mile-long canyon in western Colorado, about 45 minutes from Grand Junction. There, 23,000 private acres sprawl over vast sagebrush flats, juniper creek bottoms, and soaring mesas. Originally built as a private ranch, it now serves as a luxury lodge and big-time big-game hunting operation.

And, it served as a one-man boot camp for me and McKenzie. He had a day-and-a-half to drill me on what it takes to hit a pie plate at a distance of more than half a mile.

No pressure.

Check back tomorrow and Friday to see if I can make the shot.