Here are some photos of our Cowboy Action Shooting facility, affectionately named Camden Mills, along with a little club history. We hope the photos do a reasonable job of conveying the range’s beauty, as well as the amenities it offers, and the history adds a little color for your enjoyment.
Entrance to Camden Mills.
This view provides an immediate sense of what you will see as you enter Camden Mills. Our range is located within a heavily treed area of the Milan Rifle Club, which adds a certain element of beauty and shade to our range, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter (for the bravest among us). If you look closely, you’ll also catch a glimpse of Boot Hill just to the left of the stage.
We also are pleased to offer:
- 100% asphalt-paved access to and completely through our Cowboy town providing ease of access and movement up and down the range; and,
- covered waiting/staging areas in front of 100% of our stages – great protection from both the sun and rain.
Stage 1 – Fillman’s Farm – Feed – Seed
Stage 1 is named in honor of a long-time local Cowboy and club benefactor – Fillmore. Fillmore was a charter member of the “Sunshine Posse,” which always wore yellow shirts at matches, hence the bright yellow color. He was also known as the “Chicken Whisperer,” but that story is for another day.
Stage 1 is a two-windowed, single door stage, and has a covering over both the main and forward shooting platforms. This keeps the shooting areas reasonably dry if the weather turns a bit rainy. Also note that the wooden shooting platform extends into the down-range side of the facade, as well as the covered loading and unloading tables.
Stage 2 – The Courthouse
Stage 2 is named in honor of another long-time local Cowboy and club benefactor – Preemption Judge. Preemption Judge was the driving force behind many of Milan Rifle Club’s improvements, including the completely paved road that winds through it and Camden Mills. Before he passed, “The Judge” was able to see the stage named in his honor.
Stage 2 is a two-windowed, single door stage. As is the case with all our facades, it has a covered shooting area and loading/unloading tables.
On a related note, this picture also gives you a good view of the berms located between bays, allowing Match Directors to include down-range movement with ease. Of course, berms also allows us to recover most brass that is thrown forward as well. 😉
Stage 3 – Mine Stage
Stage 3 is the home of our mine cart and the Bookworm Mining Company, named in honor of Bookworm Sandy who served as chief score-keeper and co-Match Director of our annual Fall Round-Up for several years.
Stage 3 is an open bay stage and allows for easy horizontal movement – note the horizontal, asphalt-paved shooting path in front of the mine cart extending to both sides of the bay.
Stage 4 – Hotel & Saloon
Stage 4 Is named after T.A. Spurs and Shamrock Sis, long-time club members and co-directors of the club’s St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital charity shoot. Over the years the charity shoot has raised almost $500,000 in donations.
Stage 4 sports a single door and wide window, wooden floors both behind and in front of the façade, as well as covered loading/unloading tables and waiting area.
Stage 5 – Ken’s Telegraph Office
Stage 5 is dedicated to Sassparilla Ken. Ken was one of the driving forces in getting Cowboy Action Shooting started at the Milan Rifle Club. The combination telegraph office and gun shop came about because Ken’s real-life employment was in those professions.
Stage 5 is configured with four openings – two doorways and two windows. This image also shows the loading and unloading tables’ proximities to the stage.
Stages 6 & 7 – Open Bay Stages
Stages 6 & 7 are two open bay stages which are used when the Match Directors get a little creative with their prop use. While they aren’t used often, when they are you can be assured it’s going to be a “banging good” time. As do our other stages, these include covered loading, unloading, and waiting/staging areas.
Stage 8 – Shotgun Stage
Stage 8 is typically set up as a shotgun only stage when the Match Directors write one up. As you can see this stage sports a wooden perpendicular walk-way with an asphalt-covered downrange path. While not seen in this image, it also has covered loading, unloading, and waiting areas as well.
Of particular note is the downed tree in the middle of the bay, which was the result of an intense August, 2020 wind storm. The Fall Round-Up 2020 Match Directors used their imagination and incorporated the tree into the stage design, to the delight of all.
Stage 9 – Livery Stable
Stage 9 sports a single door and window shooting platform. Along with covered loading/unloading tables and waiting area. It too offers a solid shooting platform on both the front and back sides of the building façade. Many Match Directors use the space off the right side of the shooting platform to incorporate additional lateral movement into the stage. Due to its location, this stage is shaded nearly all the time.
Stage 10 – Peterson & Sons Excavating
Named after “Digger” Sam Peterson, one of the original people that helped build this range. Digger Sam used his excavating equipment to clear the trees and underbrush, cut into the hillsides, and move the earth to create the stages, berms, drainageways, and pathways you see today. This stage was completely rebuilt in 2021 o commemorate his work. Stage 10 is set up with two windows and a single doorway. It also includes covered loading/unloading tables and waiting area, along with a solid shooting platform in front of the building.
We hope these photos give you a sense of our facility, and the history gives you an idea of some of the colorful characters that made us who we are today. There are many others whose stories are yet to be told. Perhaps they will be one day.
We offer fun and interesting matches from April through October each year, and an Ironman match in January for the bravest of cowboys and cowgirls.
To keep abreast of club activities throughout the year be sure to sign up to receive Illowa Irregulars blog posts via email by entering your email address in the entry form in the lower right portion of our home page.
We’d love to have you hitch your wagon to our hitching post and give us a try.
PS. Many thanks to Count Sandor for sharing his knowledge of club history.