Archive for the ‘Outdoor Activities’ Category

Different Types of Shooting Targets

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Practice, they say, makes perfect and when it comes to shooting and accuracy, practice is the only way to improve accuracy. Regardless of your shooting goal, accuracy is important. That is why shooters use targets to hone both their skill in handling a gun and their accuracy. To that end, there are three popular types of targets that shooters use. Those are steel targets, Tannerite targets, and plinking targets. Here is a look at each of these targets and why you’d use them.

Steel Targets — Steel targets are made out of 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch steel. Many people opt to use armor grade steel. The fast-and-hard rule is any steel will do if it has a Brinell hardness in excess of 500. Of course, this is subjective but applying it adds longevity to your targets. The benefit of using steel targets is that they last longer and require fewer houses for setup since they can be used over and over. They are also easy to clean up and usually just require repainting when it matters. The advantage of using steel targets is that you can hear that “plink” if you hit one. This allows the shooter to have instant confirmation during target practice. The downfall with steel targets is that they pose a ricochet risk and people do get injured from bullets that ricochet. Steel targets are usually easy to move around so you can gain more detailed target practice in a small space. With the right tools, steel targets are easy to make as a DIY project.

Steel Shooting targets

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Tannerite targets are exploding. They are a mixture of aluminum powder and ammonium nitrate. The ratio for mixing at home is 5:95 Aluminum powder:Ammonium nitrate. While this already sounds like a bad idea, the mixture only explodes when struck with a bullet. The bigger risk is that the target may cause a fire. That is usually from mixing the ingredients wrong, or exposing them to flames. Tannerite targets are helpful for long-distance shooting where you might not hear the plink. You will definitely see the explosion. The downside to Tannerite targets is that they are a once-use product and they create a mess. While the current laws allow Tannerite targets for use and sale in all 50 states, it is best to check with your local authorities for changes to those laws.


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Plinking Targets are comprised from almost anything from tin cans to watermelons. These targets offer an affordable means to hone your shooting skills and accuracy. You can easily create larger targets using cardboard cutouts or difficult targets using Q-tips. If you want to add technical challenges, many plinking targets can be swung from a rope to provide a moving target. The benefit of plinking targets is that they are scalable for different skill sets. Depending on the material from which the target is made, these may be single use or last for years. The list of material that you can use is virtually limitless. Another advantage to plinking targets is that they add a sense of fun to the game of target practice. It is easier to convince a new shooter to practice target shooting if the idea is to demolish a watermelon or perhaps to challenge them by taking a grape off a toothpick at 50-yards.

homemade_targets_3  Plinking targets  homemade_targets_2

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Every type of target has its strengths and weaknesses. The idea is to learn when to use each type of homemade target to gain the best benefit. Your goal as a shooter should always be gun safety followed by bettering your shooting skill and accuracy. Each set of target types also provides a wide range of costs. These three choices allow you to pick a cost that fits your budget.

To learn more about how guns are crafted and cared for visit our Colorado School of Trades website for more information on gunsmithing education. In so doing, you will find a ton of helpful information that helps you improve as a shooter and to improve your accuracy.


Summer Outdoor Family Activities in Colorado

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016


Whether you’re moving to the state, planning a staycation or simply heading out, there are plenty of amazing experiences awaiting you during the summer in Colorado. The state’s many parks and preserves are ideal for family activities or family hiking, but plenty of amazing options are overlooked in the summertime. Whether you want to view the mountains from your own personal hot air balloon, spot wildlife or just relax and catch a movie in the park, these are some go-to ideas for Colorado families this summer.

Go back in time

The Pueblos, Colorado’s first and oldest inhabitants, left behind compelling ruins and cliff homes to explore. Visit Mesa Verde National Park in the southwest part of the state and enjoy hiking to the ruins or take a guided tour. This is no ordinary stroll, it includes tunnels, ladders and a chance to go inside some cliff dwellings that are more than 500 years old. Not into climbing? Nearby Hovenweep National Monument also offers a chance to tour archeological ruins with a little less climbing; the site offers a 1.5 hour walking tour perfect for exploring.

Make a splash

If you are heading to Denver, you have not one, but two water parks to choose from. Both Water World and Elitch Gardens offer plenty of watery fun for kids and adults of all ages and are the perfect spots to cool down on a hot summer day. From the slides to the wave pool, you can find something for the whole family at Denver’s water parks.

High flying adventure

A zipline gives you a unique look at the world. A  zipline that combines a workout with a sightseeing tour  gives you the best of both worlds. You’ll have to ascend above the trees to start your tour, so ziplining is best for those who can climb well and enjoy adventure. Once you’ve made your way to the treetops, it is time to take the plunge. Depending on where you go for your zipline tour, you could see mountains, the forest or even some important landmarks. Ziplining is a fun but somewhat pricey venture; expect to pay about $100 per person. As a rule of thumb, kids need to be age 7 or older to participate. Just search for “ziplining” in the county you’ll be traveling in to find nearby tours.

Movies in the park

Each week, the public parks and recreation departments in Colorado host a movie night – and you’re invited! Movie nights are free of charge for the whole family and allow you to get outside and enjoy a beautiful summer evening, complete with entertainment. Each park has a different setup and movie schedule, so you are sure to find something the whole family will enjoy – don’t forget the s’mores!

Make animal friends

Visit the Denver Zoo to meet up to 750 species and explore a variety of specialty activities and educational adventures. The zoo may be the place to spot large wildlife, but the butterfly pavilion and aquarium offer plenty of educational and fun opportunities as well. Tour one or more of these animal activities when you visit Denver this summer.

You don’t have to go to Denver to enjoy animal activities and get educated; the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs has a special emphasis on African animals like elephants and giraffes and educational opportunities throughout the summer. This location also offers an educational camp for children each summer, with behind the scenes and hands on learning opportunities. Tour one or both of these animal attractions when you visit Colorado this summer.

Drift away to adventure

Kids as young as three can join the family for an adventurous trip along one of Colorado’s rivers. Beginner whitewater rafting trips allow you to include the entire family — and are just rough enough to be thrilling, but not scary. For older kids and teens, a more challenging expedition might be just the thing for summer adventure; most locations offer a variety of options to perfectly suit your family’s needs. Prices vary based on the skill level and length of the expedition; most locations provide everything you need to raft safely.

Soar high above the clouds

Afraid of heights? If not, then a one of a kind hot air balloon tour might be just the thing to try this summer. Balloons lift off and gently soar on the breeze, allowing you to take a leisurely look at your favorite parts of Colorado. Allow a few hours for a balloon tour – and bring some extra cash; while it packs plenty of fun, these tours can run as high as $250 per person.

Take a hike

Not only does hiking provide plenty of physical benefits, it boosts everything from creativity to emotional wellbeing, too! Spend a day hiking through the scenic mountain and valley paths at any one of a number of Colorado parks and trails. Rocky Mountain National Park offers plenty of kid- and family-friendly options and makes it easy to get ready to explore nature in a whole new way.

School’s out and it is time for fun; incorporate a few of these activities into your vacation plans and you’ll have the best summer yet this year in Colorado.


Different Places to Fish in Colorado

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016


There are a ton of places to find outstanding fishing around Lakewood, Colorado. The local area offers easy access to dams, reservoirs, creeks, and lakes. In addition to the many fishing holes, there are plenty of helpful outfitters in the area too. In this where-the-fish-are blog, we explore some of the best places to fish and where to go to get your supplies. Colorado is active in managing its wildlife so be sure to check the fishing laws about where to fish and what you can catch.

Clear Creek County

There are some amazing places in Clear Creek County to fish, and especially fly fish. Up near the Loveland Ski area is where you will find where Clear Creek starts. Much of Clear Creek is in the Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forest. Almost anywhere you can gain access to the river you will find rainbow trout. Along through the mining area, you will find rainbow and cutthroat trout too, especially along the stretch of the river through Idaho Spring. From Lakewood, you are looking at about a half hour drive from Lakewood. It is a good area to explore and there are plenty of places where you can fish.

Georgetown Lake

Past Idaho Springs and about a 45-minutes drive straight down the I-70 from Lakewood you come to Georgetown Lake. You can bring your boat or raft though no motors are allowed. This is a nicely civilized area for fishing in Colorado and the lake is beautiful. Expect to find rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and lake trout. If you map out your Lakewood fishing trip you can practically fish all the way there and all the back.

Green Mountain Reservoir

The Green mountain Reservoir is about 1.5 hours from Lakewood and offers outstanding Colorado fishing, including ice fishing. There is a boat launch at the Marina. This is a big lake for lake trout and the Department of Wildlife wants to control the population so you get to catch and keep more lake trout here too. Expect lake trout in the 20-25 pound range. This is also a place to fish for kokanee salmon. If you are looking for salmon action, this is a good bet. Here is more information about salmon fishing in Colorado

Hot Fishing Spots for Lakewood Fishing

Harriman Lake is a reservoir just four miles away. This is a perfect place for bass fishermen as the lake supports both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. In addition, you have access to striped bass, white bass, spotted bass, crappie, Walleye, and Channel cats.


Sloan’s Lake is just 3.5 miles away and it is full of fish. Most people come for the Rainbow trout, brown trout, bluegill, cutthroat trout, and Northern Pike. There are also plenty of catfish here including blue cats, white cats, and flathead cats.


Cherry Creek is near Sloan’s Lake and offers tremendous fishing for largemouth bass.

Bear Creek Lake Reservoir is 4.7 miles from Lakewood and offers easy access and great fishing. For bass fishermen, there are largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. For bigger game fish the walleye and rainbow trout are fun. The bluegill, bream, and crappie are easy. The brown trout are a bit of a challenge, but then they are often huge.


Here is a full list of local lakes near Lakewood


If you are looking for stocked trout then the Colorado Parks & Wildlife crew publishes a list where they release 10-inch trout.

Supplies and Outfitters for Colorado Fishing

Rick’s Rods Fishing Tackle is just off Huron Street in Denver.

Maurice Sporting Goods in Englewood is right on Kenyon Avenue.

MW Reynolds in Denver. Just off of Stout Street supplies fly fishing gear.

Discount Fishing Tackle Inc. in Denver. Just off Santa Fe Drive. Good place for gear, supplies and bait.

There are plenty of outstanding places to fish near Lakewood. The local area was practically created for fishermen. If you are new to Colorado rivers, they are mean. Be sure to practice safe fishing as a quiet stream can change into a raging white water torrent in a short space.

Big Game Getaways

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Plan Your Big Game Getaway

No matter what draws you to big game hunting – the challenge of the wilderness, dangerous prey or an impressive trophy, these big game spots are right here in the USA and offer something for every trophy hunting enthusiast.

Alaska:  Bear Hunting

Bear - Big Game blog

The Challenge: Inhospitable terrain and weather make this the most challenging hunt in the USA.

If you crave adventure and a true challenge, then a hunting expedition through the wilderness of Alaska might be just what you need. From coping with unpredictable and inhospitable weather to tracking game movements over a long period of time, Alaska has plenty to offer the experienced hunter. Game is abundant in Alaska, but the state is so large that some animal populations are tough to track and locate, adding to the challenge and the level of skill required. The right training and equipment can make the difference between success and failure on this intense hunt.

Moose, elk and other large animals abound in Alaska, while those willing to face a full grown grizzly bear can do so – if they dare. According to state hunting experts, preparation is key to a successful hunt; expect to spend about a week on your expedition if you visit the state; it takes time to cross the terrain and locate the game you seek.

Washington:  Moose Hunting

Moose - Big Game blog

The Challenge: Getting lucky in the annual permit lottery or auction

Searching for the perfect trophy for your game room wall? Try a 50 inch moose—these huge herbivores are heavy on the ground in Washington. While you have a good chance of bagging one when you go, the opportunity to hunt is harder to come by.Washington has a raffle and auction permit option, so you’ll have to enter your name into the lottery to grab a chance to hunt moose in the state. Make sure you are fully educated and prepared for your hunt if your name is called as it can take years to win a coveted moose pass.

According to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, fees collected from the moose and bighorn sheep lotteries help pay for the care and management of the species. In addition to abundant moose, the state also offers permits for elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Hunters can apply for one or more permit lotteries from inside or out of the state.

Idaho:  Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion (Felis concolor) Cougar or Puma. Mountain Lions are usually solitary animals that feed in the early morning or evening. Often sibling groups may stay together for a year or two after leaving the parent. Their diets consist mainly of Deer but may include rodents and hares. Range: SW Canada, Western US, Mexico, Central and South America.

The Challenge: Huge snow drifts, elusive and a stunningly complex apex predator that is tough to track through deep, deep snow

You’ll have to put in some extra work if you want one of these oversized and wily creatures to adorn your home; mountain lions in the wilds of Idaho enjoy optimal living conditions and are notably oversized. These cats are tough to track – and they do fight back, making pursuing a mountain lion through the snow a daunting proposition.

According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife, you can hunt mountain lions in the state 10 months out of every year and purchase more than one tag if needed. Proper training and the right equipment is a must for this dangerous hunt; head in prepared and you’ll be more likely to be successful. If you miss a mountain lion, you may still spot some of the other big game the state is known for – black bear, elk and bighorn sheep are all popular trophy picks in Idaho as well.

Montana:  Bison Hunting


The Challenge: You won’t be able to get very close – bison are huge and quick to charge

One of the biggest land animals in the United States, Bison roam the range in Montana and a skilled hunter can walk away with a freezer full of lean and healthy meat along with a handsome trophy piece. Because of their sheer size and the difficulty involved in hunting from afar, bison offer a true challenge for the experienced hunter. If you’ve ever wondered what life was like on the plains hundreds of years ago, a bison hunt can put you in touch with the past and allow you to experience what others only dream about.

According to Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks department, bison permits are available from November through February and you can hunt on private or designated public land, including some areas around Yellowstone National Park. While you’re tracking down a bison, you’ll also be able to keep an eye out for wolves, elk, mountain lions and more.

Whether your idea of an ideal outing is a day spent elk hunting in the lush wilderness or fighting your way through the wilds of Alaska and facing down a grizzly, one of these big game hunts is sure to please.

Your Gun Dog — Different Ways To Train Your Hunting Companion

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Pointer pedigree dog with quail in mouth and hunter hand

Your Gun Dog — Different Ways To Train Your Hunting Companion

A good gun dog is worth his weight in gold. Hunters always remember the best dogs they’ve owned. Those dogs that seamlessly became an extension of the hunter — one that practically read its owner’s mind. Those are the gun dogs of legend. In this gun dog blog, we look at some of the best ways to train your hunting companion so that you, too, have a gun dog of legend.

Bird dog training — where to start

The hunting process is complex and the role that a good gun dog plays is important. Before you can get them to retrieve dead waterfowl, you have to get them to obey. There are two factors that hunters need to instill in their dogs — obedience and steadiness.

Obedience begins with the “stay” command. Make the pup stay while you do the retrievals. Letting the dog watch you work instills the idea that they do not need to retrieve every dead bird or fowl dummy. This takes the exuberance out of the dog and enhances the dog’s calm nature. Still, the entire process begins with obedience. A gun dog that does not obey will never be steady.

Steadiness is a skill that is essential. It means that a dog will stand-down while another dog does the work. When training puppies, it is important that they obey, especially when it comes to retrieving. What this teaches the dog is restraint. Every dead bird does not need retrieval as soon as it hits the water. Restraint takes the over-excitement out of a dog and allows it to function without the pressure of performing at peak efficiency. Calm and steady are a win for the hunter and the dog.

Training hunting dogs — basic obedience

We discussed the “stay” command –  and that is an essential skill –  but it is not the only skill. Once the dog is in action you need to have it “come” when called or signaled. Gun dogs of legend obey. They stay, come, heel, and fetch, but they do it on command. The only way to effectively train a gun dog to obey is with trial, reward and yes, punishment. That does not mean cruelty because a good bird dog should not fear you; they need to respect you. And that is achieved through favor and disappointment.

Gun dogs — start with good stock

Personality and demeanor are two traits that bird hunters need to carefully evaluate before choosing a dog. Poor breeding practices have really opened up Pandora’s box. What we have now are dogs that are hyper. You cannot train that out of them as it just becomes nervousness and eventually a psychosis. A hyper dog constantly has to battle between its hyper nature and obeying its master. These are not gun dogs of legends. Start with good stock and many of your training issues disappear.

Bird dog training devices

Good trainers do not need training devices. Those products, such as electric collars are training aids. If they are to work, you will first need to know how to train a gun dog. The role of a trainer is to teach. Training devices do not do that. They do not provide the dog with skills. Gun dogs of legend existed long before there were training devices. The best advice is not to rely upon a device to train your gun dogs. Instead, rely upon skill.

Know your dog and its personality

Just like with people, puppies need to develop in order to learn. By knowing your dog and watching its personality, you can feel when the dog is ready to learn. Start with the basics — sit, stay, fetch and come. When they have mastered those, move onto the more complex situations like stand down. It is hopelessly frustrating for both the hunter and the dog when you try to teach a dog skills before it is cognitively ready.

Making a good gun dog is a reflection of the trainer. It is important that you start small and work into teaching harder skill sets. Another good tip is to socialize your pups when they are young. If you are new to training hunting dogs or have had problems in the past with bird dog training, step back and focus on making yourself a better trainer. We hope that these tips help you create your own gun dog of legend.