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Setting up Mitchell’s Range

Mitchell Family Grave. 3 years old. Died 1860

On a snowy day in March, we decided to set up a quick and easy steel range. Many of the ranges we shoot at are formal, large and require a fair amount of coordination and logistics to shoot. We wanted a range that we could leave steel up all year and just do informal testing.

Obviously safety and a backstop are important. Which is easy to acquire with pistol distances, but we also wanted the ability to ring steel with rifles. So..with rifle rated targets loaded up in the truck and Kubota, we set out to find the best option. Ultimately we found a spot on top of a ridge that looks down over a creek.

View from the top of ridge of Mitchell's Range.
View from the top of ridge of Mitchell’s Range.

The Targets

The top of the ridge has a small flat area and down in front of the target stands is another small flat area. So one can shoot rifles from the ridge, and shoot pistols down in the valley.

As you can see from the pictures that we still had a fair amount of snow on the ground. The week prior Mother Nature had dumped about a foot of powder on us. This was the first semi-warm day in months, but the ground was quite wet. This is evidenced by the fact all of the spall from shots deflected downwards turning the ground into mush. Which is a good thing!

The mess was mostly generated from shooting 45-70, 7.62x54R and 7.5 Swiss from the ridge line.

The range is configured with 4 steel targets. All of them are major caliber rifle rated. I believe they are AR550, but we ordered these some months ago and they’ve been in the barn all winter. At minimum the are AR 500.

Basically there are 3 targets in front. Two stickers on the outsides and a 2×4 IPSC style stand in the center. Up the hill between the right and center targets is an angled ground plate that is safe to shoot with pistols from the lower range as well.

 The Rifles

We have a couple of rifles that have not been fully shaken down. Freeze is working on a Swiss K31 in 7.5 Swiss precision rifle project. We have a personal Russian Mosin-Nagant Sniper that needed to be zeroed –NOT the giveaway Russian Sniper. That is in the armory unfired. And finally Freeze wanted to shoot the Alaskan Co-Pilot in 45-70 to get a feel for it as a possible deer gun this next season.

The Handguns

Freeze and I shot our HK Vp9’s since that is what we carry. I also brought along a S&W Model 64 38 Special. That is a borrowed snubby I wanted to get some time on for an upcoming Snubby Revolver Training.


Why is this called Mitchell’s Range? 

In this part of the country sometimes you run into old, forgotten cemeteries from some of the original settlers. Locally these are called “Pioneer Cemeteries”. There are at least 3 of these type of cemeteries that have been discovered on this property. For sometime, members of our team have been involved in trying to document and restore these cemeteries: Locating the plots, resetting the headstones, have the headstones repaired and alerting the local historical society that the cemetery exists.

On this same ridge off to the right is a one such plot. Through the years, we have determined that the family buried here was the Mitchell Family. We know this since we have reset headstones and cleaned debris from the site. As I recall, the historical society told us this family originally came from Connecticut and settled in the area in the early 1800’s. I seem to recall 1840 being the year of this homestead.

But what makes this pioneer cemetery the most interesting is the amount of kids buried here. It’s almost all kids. Newborns. 2 years old. 3 years old. It’s hard to see all these headstones laying about denoting young children and not wonder what in the hell happened? Medical conditions? Disease? Accident?

So when the range was complete, a name has to be given. Current names around the farm are such things as The Box, The Bottoms, The Red Barn, The Oak Woods, The Tag Land, The Track, The Sandbox, The Flip-top Stand, The Ladder Stand, The Crossroads, etc. The reason this is important is for navigation and hunter / shooter safety. We need to know where where various people are about the property. And they need to know where we are.

After a few minute of mulling it over, I had an idea. I walked off the shooting ridge into the woods and took this photograph of the most legible Mitchell Family Headstone. She died in 1860. She was three years old. And her first name is lost to history. But now everyone will know who she is when we talk about Mitchell’s Range.

But there’s one more important rule about Mitchell’s Range. If you shoot over there, after you are finished, you must put in some kind of work at the Mitchell Family Cemetery. Clean some brush. Wipe off a headstone. Check for damage of existing fixes. Even in the dead of winter if it’s too cold or snowy to do anything, you are expected to at least patrol the ridge and check on the Mitchell’s and make sure nothing has been disturbed.


3 years and 4 months. Young Mitchell Girl who died in 1860
3 years and 4 months. Young Mitchell Girl who died in 1860





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