In 1947 a group of men in Palmer Lake, Colorado formed the Palmer Lake Shooters, an informal group of fellows who were bonded together by that mutual respect for firearms. In the years that followed many of the members, busy with their lives and families, either lost interest, moved away or otherwise dropped out and eventually the club became a distant albeit fond memory in the minds of those who were still alive to remember it.
In 1982 there still burned an ember in the hearts of two former members who still remembered what it was like to socialize around guns and shooting. Two men, Lowell Stanley and Duane Hanson met in April of that year in a store owned by Herb Bache in Palmer Lake and agreed to resurrect the club and try to recover those lost values. At first, they met weekly, in the evenings, around a pot of coffee at the then new Village Inn in Monument, Colorado. After many long evenings pounding out bylaws, structure and incorporation paperwork, their labors bore fruit and the Palmer Lake Shooters, now renamed the Ben Lomond Gun Club was born again.
At that time, the Palmer Lake town fathers embraced the club and not only granted an annual lease on property for a shooting range but allowed the club to hold its monthly meetings in the Town Hall. In the years that followed they built a very nice range and grew to several hundred members, mostly from the Colorado Springs area.
By 1990, even the small town of Palmer Lake was affected by the antigun agenda and not only was the now politically incorrect Ben Lomond Gun Club not welcome at the town hall, the town council refused to renew the lease on the shooting range for 1991. The evil gun lovers were being banished from the community and driven into the hills where they were no longer a threat to women, small children and neighborhood dogs. At long last, peace was restored to Palmer Lake.
Realizing that the only permanent solution to the location for their shooting range was to ultimately own the land upon which it resides, the club leaders set about the task of finding a suitable location for a new range. Hopefully there would be enough money in the club coffers to purchase a site where property values had not yet been impacted by the population explosion and skyrocketing costs of land in the Colorado Front Range. In June of 1991, after many months of searching and heated debates among the members, the club finally purchased a 560 acre cattle ranch 4 miles North of Ramah, Colorado. That’s about half way between US24 and Colorado Highway 86 on Elbert County Road 105. Although the treasury was several thousand dollars short of paying for the land, the club sold bonds and a limited number of life memberships to its members to raise capital. The final amount needed was obtained from the late Lt.Col. William B. (Bill) Watson, USMC ret., who gave the club a private mortgage. At last, the Ben Lomond Gun Club had a home for its range at the Ben Lomond Ranch.
The turmoil surrounding the loss of the Palmer Lake range, the subsequent search and selection of the new facility and the relocation of the monthly meeting place to various locations in an around Colorado Springs extracted a heavy toll on membership. With about a third of its members left, land rich and cash poor, the club set about the task of building and paying for its new facility and rebuilding its member base. With much hard work and long hours, the members managed to plant hundreds of trees, build miles of terraces, three dams, over three miles of roads, multiple pistol berms, high power rifle ranges and a three story sporting clays tower. They restored one ranch house to a clubhouse and restored a second ranch house to caretaker’s quarters. By November of 1996 they doubled their membership, paid off all mortgages and bonds, and owned the property outright with no debts and nearly $25,000 in the bank.
Never intending the facility to be an unsupervised plinking area, the leaders of Ben Lomond soon realized that the overhead for the facility and eventual staff could not be met with a few hundred members. It would require several hundred or even a few thousand members to generate enough use and revenue to fully staff and run the Ranch. Moreover, the club did not want to restrict its membership to the Colorado Springs area choosing instead to accept members from anywhere in Colorado. This decision greatly affected the structure of the club because eventually the demographics of the club would mimic the demographics of the area from which it draws and the base of the club would shift from Colorado Springs to the South Denver area in much the same way as it had shifted earlier from Palmer Lake to Colorado Springs. Obviously, the Colorado Springs members were justifiably not to excited about losing their club to Denver.
This reality, coupled with the logistics of finding a place for regular meetings of several hundred members and the long distances some would have to travel to attend meetings resulted in the restructuring of the club into individual chapters, effective January 1, 1998. Now members could meet with their neighbors within a few minutes of their homes in groups of a few dozen people, which could more easily be accommodated. The added bonus, however, was that these chapters could field shooting teams in competition with each other and they might be able to return to those times when folks used firearms for fun and social interaction.
Today, the Ben Lomond Gun Club is a family of over a thousand Members who attend regularly monthly meetings at Chapters in Calhan, Colorado Springs, Elizabeth, Franktown, Littleton, and Monument.
So, if you are looking for a place to shoot, visit the Ben Lomond Ranch as our guest. If you are looking for some friends with whom to socialize and participate in your favorite shooting sport visit your nearest Chapter and join Ben Lomond Gun Club. If you are looking for a reason to get involved, how about helping to restore those lost values by doing what you can to insure that when the Torch of Freedom is passed to the next generation it is burning as bright as it was when it was handed to us.