When I asked if the WesTex Run n’ Gun was worth going to, I got an overwhelming response with comments like “hell yes” and “Best RnG ever” and “If you only do one RnG, make it the WesTex”. The date of this years’ event lined up right for me, so I did a google maps to see how far a drive it was. Damn! A 9.5 hour drive from Northern Oklahoma. Then I started to look for airports close to Ft. Davis, Texas and it was either El Paso (a 4 hour drive); or Midland (a 3 hour drive). So, I found a good deal on a rental car and decided I’d just make the 9.5 hour drive. The wife wasn’t too keen on the idea, but being she’s my biggest supporter, she said she would go with me. We made the trek without any problems and arrived on Thursday evening. I wanted to arrive a day early to acclimate a little as the elevation at the Prude Ranch is over 5,000 feet.
Entry fee for the WesTex is a little high at $190.00 but you get some free meals, a T-shirt, free housing in a “bunkhouse” and a steak dinner Saturday evening. It figured to be quite a bit of value for the money. The wife and I opted to upgrade to a private cabin for our stay and the rates were quite reasonable (she said she wasn’t staying in a bunkhouse with a bunch of “farting old men” and frankly, I didn’t want to either).
The WesTex is located at the Prude Ranch, near Ft. Davis, Texas. The Prude Ranch is not a real old ranch (established in 1885), nor is it very big by Texas standards (about 1,300 acres), but it’s a beautiful ranch with outstanding scenery and surroundings. This part of West Texas is best described as high desert and mountainous with rocky mountains ringing huge canyons. And the Prude Ranch is an excellent place to host a Run n’ Gun.
The best I could figure, this was the 5th or 6th annual event held here and it’s directed by Bruce Davis. Bruce runs a tight ship and it’s reflected in the professionalism of his RO’s. This was a very well run match, kept on a tight schedule by the start/finish ladies. To help alleviate wait times at stages, you’re asked if you’ll be walking or running the course. This helps them to interspace walkers evenly throughout the day. This worked out really well and wait times were minimal. If a stage started to back up a bit, a message would be relayed via radio to the start finish line to hold up starters for just a bit.
WesTex doesn’t need any man made obstacles, the elevation gain and trail or path taken is tough enough. With rocky trails and a 500 feet elevation climb (mostly between stages 4 and 5) you didn’t really need anything else to test your fitness level. I’m actually quite surprised that there weren’t any more injuries than there were. About the most serious injury was getting a little too close to a Yucca plant or some other plant with razor sharp daggers, they would leave you bleeding a little, but no worse for wear.
The stages were well designed with challenging pistol, rifle and combination stages. Rifle targets ranged from about 100 yards or so to 500 yards; and pistol targets reached to over 50 yards. The neat thing about the WesTex is the high angle shots. Some targets were at a 45 degree (or more) angle up or down and the winds made the cross canyon shots very tricky. There was the usual cast of targets, such as the dreaded dueling tree; and props for shooting them from, such as a VTAC board and barrels. One thing different about the stages was the movement required for each stage. For instance, one rifle stage had different shooting positions, and one had to move from point to point during the stage while on the shooting clock. One stage had nearly 70 yards lateral movement! This made for some tough stages, as you had just ran (or walked) to the stage, then had to run while on the stage! Yours truly made a serious tactical error by passing 3 runners on the steep climb just as I was approaching Stage 5, only to find out there was no waiting on the stage! Nothing like shooting long distance rifle targets with your heart rate at 180 bpm! I guess that’s why we train. You can look up this years’s stage descriptions and COF on the WestTex website at https://westexrun-n-gun.com/
There were a total of 8 stages (including one with a battle field pickup (a Remington 870)). Round count was 42 rifle and 26 pistol. I’m pretty sure all competitors shot quit a bit more than the minimum. The Oklahoma contingent was well represented with Carter Fairless in attendance, fresh off his 10K victory at Pawnee.
A steak dinner was held Saturday night and the competitors and their families were treated with a wood grilled steak and all the fixings. Results were slow coming as there was a serious computer problem that delayed the results; but in the end, I ended up in 7th place (even had a fastest time on one stage) and Carter ended up in 10 place. I believe there were a total of 78 competitors including all the RO’s. Carter even posted the 4th fastest run time!
The really neat thing about this RnG was that you stayed right on the ranch and the start/finish line was only about 100 yards from our cabin. I had a 10:35 start time, so after the 7:30 am briefing, I went back to the cabin to relax for while in comfort. First shooter was out at 8:00 am sharp and I believe the last shooter was in around 3:30 or so. There was only one course and that was around 5 miles in length (5.25 according to MapMyRun). A little longer than I was used to a and the altitude did hinder my performance (but no Carter’s!).
The ranch cabins are “rustic” but not primitive and the rates were very reasonable. We had hot/cold running water, hot showers, flushing toilets and a nice bed. There was even Wi-Fi available (although not real reliable), but no TV’s in the cabin.
About the only thing that didn’t care for (and it’s a very minor point) is that folks who used bolt guns got 5 seconds deducted from their time for each stage. To me, it’s a Run n’ Gun and you “run what you brung”, if you want to handicap yourself by using a bolt gun, so be it, you shouldn’t be given a free head start. Give a separate award to the highest placing bolt gun user if you need to recognize those folks.
Overall this was a truly enjoyable experience that I’ll try to put in my rotation. The wife ended up having a great time as well. I really can’t praise Bruce, the RO’s and the ranch staff enough as the whole group went out of their way to make the experience really enjoyable.
So, I’ll echo the responses I got to my query about the WesTex Run n’ Gun. Put it on your bucket list and sign up next year. Be sure and sign up early as the event routinely sells out pretty quick. Next year, I think the wife and I will travel a few days in advance to check out all the neat stuff nearby, such as the Davis Mountains state park, the McDonald observatory and the Ft. Davis National park. We might even opt to head down to the Big Bend national park a couple more hours away. The locals all said the Big Bend national park is worth the extra drive.