Gunsite and the C-Bar Ranch

The SIG Pistol Mounted Optics instructor class Sean and I attended was held at Gunsite. Gunsite is the root of the tree for defensive pistol training: where the modern era began. The Col. Cooper era, often called “Orange Gunsite” by its students, had basically ended before I had the money and free time and interest to make the trip to attend a class. During the 1990’s Gunsite was in decline and Clint Smith was teaching at Thunder Ranch in Texas, so Penny and I ended up taking a class there instead of Gunsite. In the 2000’s under new ownership Gunsite made a comeback and is once again one of the best schools in the country. As KR Training grew I was able to do most of my training by hosting traveling instructors rather than going to other facilities, so going to Gunsite – something that has been on my bucket list for a long time – just never seemed to happen, until June 2020.

Thanks to Randy W, a KR Training student and longtime Gunsite student, Sean and I got a tour of the Gunsite facilities from Ken Campbell, Gunsite CEO. That included seeing several of the shoothouses and many of the different live fire ranges.

Karl and Gunsite CEO Ken Campbell

On the advice of KR Training assistant instructor Justin G, who had trained at Gunsite in the past, we stayed at Mark Brougher’s C-Bar bed and breakfast. Mark shares my passion for the Old West. He’s written multiple books (available in e-format from Amazon) and I was able to pick up a signed copy of book #1 from him during our visit. Two of the books have been made into independent films also available for streaming online.

Episode 2, in Mark’s opinion, is a better movie.

During our visit to the C-Bar I ended up watching both movies in our down time. Here are some pics from the C-Bar.

Many of the structures at the C-Bar were rescued from a “ghost town” and relocated and renovated. If you ever travel to Gunsite to train, the C-Bar is a great place to stay. Two bedrooms, could sleep 4 comfortably, slept 2 very comfortably. 10-15 minutes from Gunsite’s front gate. Quiet, gun friendly.

We also found time to stop at the Phippen Museum in Prescott, AZ, which had current southwestern art as well as classic western art and historical artifacts. One of the docents gave us a personal tour with commentary, on a slow Saturday morning visit.

Very cool 1930’s grand piano with leather trim

We also made a Friday night visit to downtown Prescott to dine at the famous Palace, where they claim Wyatt Earp and others gathered before traveling to Tombstone for the OK Corral gunfight. They serve drinks made Old Overton, Wyatt Earp’s favorite whiskey.

Friday in downtown Prescott during the summers they have live music on the courthouse square, and we got to enjoy a good local band, with a decent crowd of locals spending a nice summer evening outside.

If you are looking for a fun shooting vacation, Gunsite and the Prescott area have a lot to offer. If I had it to do over again I would have stayed an extra couple of days, done some hiking and other outdoor activities, and had at least one day just hanging out at the C-Bar relaxing after class.