One in the Chamber gun range gives back
By BRITTANY FHOLER
More than a dozen participants tested their shooting skills at the first annual Two-Gun Competition hosted by One in the Chamber Sports Range located between Copperas Cove and Gatesville on County Road 148.
The competition raised funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, with a $50 registration fee per shooter. There were cash prizes for the top three winners as well, who were David VanValkenburg, Steven Kirk and Eric Nelson. There were 13 total participants.
One in the Chamber Sports Range first opened the July 4th weekend this summer. Owner Chris Whitaker, a 21-year Army veteran, said he wanted to do something to give back to the community, so he came up with the competition.
“I just felt this was my way of kind of giving back for some of my brothers and sisters that get lost over there, so I thought the Wounded Warrior Project would be kind of cool,” Whitaker said. “I know some guys who have been injured, have prosthetics and stuff and they’re looking for jobs, and Wounded Warriors has helped out a lot in a lot of different ways so I thought this was kind of cool. This is kind of my specific charity.”
Whitaker said he figured he wasn’t making any profit off of the competition, but he didn’t mind.
“This is giving back so I’m not worried about all that,” Whitaker added. “Everybody comes up and has a good time, we’re all being safe and stuff, that’s what’s important.”
Located between Copperas Cove and Gatesville, the One in the Chamber Sports Range offers a long-distance range with 25 rifle lanes for up to 600 yards and a pistol range with 10 pistol lanes for up to 16 yards. The property used to be a hayfield. As shooters hone their skills, the llamas in the pasture next door provide a change in scenery.
“We saw it and I’m like, ‘This is it,’ so I bought the land.” Whitaker said. “I’ve always wanted to have a long-distance range.”
Whitaker said he used to shoot competitively in Austin and on Fort Hood but the ranges closed down. He opened his own long-distance range and added a pistol range as well to serve all customers.
“I think there’s a lot of good shooters out here that want to shoot long-range,” Whitaker said.
Whitaker also became a certified NRA instructor and offers both a Basic Pistol Course and a License-To-Carry Course.
“I think the motivation for me was being able to teach safe firearm practice to people and kind of educate the public, if you will, on the difference between doing something right and doing something just because it’s cool and I want to hurt people or whatever,” Whitaker added.
Saturday’s competition started with a safety briefing and orientation of the course led by Whitaker. Each participant went three rounds through the course, which included an ammo crate drag from one location to the next and engagement of targets with both pistols and rifles throughout at varying distances. There were a total of 18 targets, both paper and steel, for participants to shoot.
The event was scored on time and penalties, with all participants starting out with a 0 time and 100 points. Penalties were given if a participant was not able to successfully and fully engage a target or if they crossed the caution tape. Things such as muzzle flashing in the wrong direction were disqualifiers.
The overall highest score from each participant was compared to determine the top three winners.
Christy Ainsworth participated in the competition with her husband, Bill. Both Christy and Bill are veterans themselves, and Bill works with Whitaker, so when they heard about the competition, they had to join. This was also their first time coming out to the range.
“Anything to help the veterans, because most of the people here are veterans,” Ainsworth said.
Ainsworth was the only woman out of the 13 participants but said she enjoyed participating.
“It was a little bit nerve-wracking, exciting,” Ainsworth said. “I haven’t actually shot a rifle in almost 20 years, so I think I did really well, but it’s fun. I’ve never done an open course besides basic training. Mostly it’s just on a range and is just straight out. This is more open, engaging fun.”
David VanValkenburg, who won first place, found out about the competition through his job at the Killeen Police Department. He said he does a lot of shooting competitions but this one was a bit different.
“Most of the time when I show up to gun competitions, it’s running and gunning, so you run really fast and get to the stations, so the fact that we’re actually having to walk and kind of like speed walk, it definitely makes this one a little bit different because you just got to walk as fast as you can and shoot as fast as you can,” VanValkenburg said.
VanValkenburg added that it was honor to be able to participate and help raise money for charity.
One in the Chamber is open Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The daily range fees are $17 for the general public or $12 for members. A one-year membership costs $25. The range fees cover the whole day, not just for a couple of hours.