Once a year the World's most advanced firearms training facility turns back the clock to the late 1800s for a unique course, the Pre-1900 Course, 5 days of defensive firearms training using the guns of the Old West. Students dress in pre-1900 clothing as well.







All Thunder Ranch courses start with a knock-down, drag out lecture by Clint Smith. Every word is a gem, and you wish they had invented pocket tape recorders in 1882 so you could take notes better. Clint is funny, informative, enthusiastic, and scary all at once.







The class, obviously, in pre-1900 costume, was alternately in shock, in awe, and in hysterics at Clint's lecture.










On the range Instructor Rob Rathburn teaches reloading while keeping the weapon and your eyes on the threat.










Then students practice it over and over again on the range. And over and over and...










Instructors Thad Rybka, Bill McLennan, and Jack Furr, three of the always excellent Thunder Ranch instructors. I've never seen an instructor who wasn't up to snuff at Thunder Ranch. There are no weak links.








Bill McLennan shows the class how to clear a room of possible bad guys. This is The Terminator, a big blockhouse building with moveable walls and enough furniture to make 400 different scenarios. The bad/good guys you encounter are big pictures on target frames, like the one not in use behind Bill.






Bill and Rob demonstrate that if you clear a room with a rifle you're really not sticking out much more than with a pistol (and, as you'll find when you clear with a rifle, the shooting is REALLY easy inside a room).









Cindy Sedillo is a TR regular, showing up to every class I've been to and more. This was her second trip to the Pre-1900 course. She's shooting one of a pair of nickeled, engraved, ivory handled Colt .45s.
















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