NRA’s Whittington Center

A Shooter’s Paradise

It’s always nice to visit a place where you feel accepted, appreciated even. Somewhere that not only stands with you in your beliefs, but also fights for your rights, supporting you and fellow enthusiasts wholeheartedly, as you support them. For the past decade I’ve been visiting one of the most beautiful places in the country — which does just this.

Here’s the main lobby of the Whittington Center.

Gatling gun in the main lobby.

The Center

Nestled within the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colifax County, NM, is the 8th wonder of the world — at least for shooters. Near the quant town of Raton, NM stands the NRA’s Whittington Center.

Enclosed in a natural cove, The Sangre de Cristo mountain range is one of the few ranges running East-West, providing one of the most beautiful backdrops for a shooting facility in the world. Shooters never have to squint during a rising sun, or peer through long cast shadows from a setting sun while focusing on targets.

The mountains form a natural bowl-shape, which encompasses the 33,300 acre facility. Part of the historic Santa Fe Trail passes through the grounds, including the trail landmark of the Red River Peak.

The Whittington Center now houses 15 ranges, covering just about every shooting discipline, including archery. Development began in 1973 and the Center is named after a wealthy oil man, NRA member, competitive shooter and fellow gun enthusiast. Mr. Whittington finagled the land deal, which involved buying land from Annie van Brugger and trading land owned by Kaiser steel for NRA land owned in California. Quite the deal maker!

This left the Board with the NRA’s Whittington Center’s total 33,300 total acres for gun enthusiasts, competitive shooters, people wanting training and Adventure Camp for kids to enjoy — all in their hands. Or should I say in “our” hands if you’re a member?

In 1977, the NRA voted to stop funding the then-called NRA National Range and Outdoor Center. They voted to make the Center a non-profit organization and re-named it the NRA Whittington Center after George R. Whittington, who worked so feverishly to put the land deal together.
So as you drive down the flag-lined lane proudly displaying all 50 states, you’ll now know how the finest shooting range in the world came abou

A bachelor group of antelope bucks will be there to greet you as drive down the main entrance lane.

One of the many statues on the grounds.

Beauty abounds everywhere.

Sign leading to the gold mine.

The Eye Of The Beholder

The facility is simply one of the most beautiful places in our country. Wildlife abounds everywhere as you drive to the range of your choice. I have personally seen mule deer, antelope, moose, elk and a few bears and too many bird species to name.

The Van Houten gold mine and coal camp is also on the property. The facility houses an excellent gift shop providing local jewelry, clothing and of course, firearms. There’s also a library and very nice museum, enough to excite any firearm fanatic. The staff is friendly and courteous and there’s always a coffee pot on in the main lobby so you can sit and sip as you absorb the beautiful animal mounts.

I get excited every year I go to the Whittington Center. It never gets old, it just feels like home. So have some fun, enjoy some beauty while you support your sport. It just doesn’t get any better!

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You never know who you’ll see shooting. Here’s Terry Murbach shooting
what else, a broom-handled Mauser.

Here’s the rifle silhouette range and the famous white buffalo, 1,123 yards
from the firing line. It’s at the arrow.

Here’s Tank at the rifle silhouette range.

Peekaboo! You just never know what you might find at the Whittington Center.

Pistol silhouette range. Notice the natural backdrop? Beautiful!

Here’s some mulies munching on some grass. You’ll see some critters, for sure, during your visit.