FARMINGTON — While the San Juan Wildlife Federation is a big club, everyone in it shares a common interest.

"It all boils down to shooting," said Bill Standley, the club's president.

The federation was established in 1957 as a shooting range and wildlife conservation club. In the 1960s and 1970s, it morphed into a full-fledged range. The nonprofit organization provides public firearms safety and shooting experiences for adults and youth and sponsors public firearms safety and shooting events to benefit the community.

The federation now has about 900 members. It offers an indoor .22 range; pistol bays; a black powder and high-power rifle range; a shotgun range and cowboy action areas. Most of the ranges have either metal gongs or stands for participants to place their own targets on.

Tanner Cooper, a New Mexico State University student, spent New Year’s Eve at the San Juan Wildlife Federation shooting range with his grandfather,
Tanner Cooper, a New Mexico State University student, spent New Year's Eve at the San Juan Wildlife Federation shooting range with his grandfather, Farmington resident Cy Cooper, who is not pictured. (Jaclyn Waggoner/ Special to The Daily Times)

To become a member of the club, people have to attend two general meetings, which are held on the third Tuesday of every month at the shooting range. It is located 2 1/2 miles east of Farmington on the north side of the Bloomfield Highway.

On New Year's Eve, Cy Cooper, a longtime member of the federation, was out shooting with his grandson, Tanner Cooper, a student at New Mexico State University.

The duo had shot at a few different lanes that day and were finishing off with their shotguns as they prepared for an upcoming pheasant hunt in Utah.

"We enjoy all the different parts of the range," Cy Cooper said. "We love it all."

Standley said many people choose to become members of the range because it is a safe place to shoot and bring one's family.

"Areas to shoot are getting less and less," Standley said. "We offer a place that is a controlled environment for people to fire their firearms safely."

Providing a safe place to shoot is just the beginning of what the federation offers to the community. The organization has different shooting events and activities every week. In addition, they also offer trainings, benefit shoots, safety courses, conceal carry classes and reloading classes.

A young girl shoots a muzzle-loader as volunteer for the San Juan Wildlife Federation looks on during their 2013 Youth Sportsfest.
A young girl shoots a muzzle-loader as volunteer for the San Juan Wildlife Federation looks on during their 2013 Youth Sportsfest. (Courtesy of San Juan Wildlife Federation)

They also host a number of different groups, including a local 4-H club and the New Mexico High School Rodeo Association, which uses the facility as they prepare and practice for events and competitions.

"The event that we are most proud of is our Youth Sportsfest," Standley said.

The event, which happens in September, is geared toward children ages 8 to 18. It boasts nine stations for local youth and usually averages around 80 kids. Families can register for the event at the federation's booth at the San Juan County Fair.

Another activity designed for the younger generation is the Youth Airgun League. The 10-week session is offered four times a year for children ages 8 to 20. Cost is $5 per match, and the rifles, ammunition and targets are all supplied. There is a five-hour safety course required before the match. The next session begins Monday.

Mike Freestone, vice president for San Juan Wildlife Federation, shoots his .22 in the indoor range on Dec. 31.
Mike Freestone, vice president for San Juan Wildlife Federation, shoots his .22 in the indoor range on Dec. 31. (Jaclyn Waggoner /Special to The Daily Times)

Standley explained that these events and classes are important for youth to learn about, appreciate and gain respect for firearms.

Special events and matches happen every week at the range and are open to the public. Membership is not required for matches.

From indoor bull's-eye for .22 caliber guns to Cowboy Action Shooting there is an activity for everyone. Conceal carry classes are also offered once or twice a month.

For more information on the federation and its activities visit, sjwf.org.

Jaclyn Waggoner covers the outdoors for The Daily Times. She can be reached at jaclynwags@daily-times.com.



Youth Air Rifle The league kicks off on Monday and runs through March 17. The league meets at 6 p.m. at the San Juan Wildlife Federation club house and indoor range. Cost is $5 per match. More info: sjwf.org

IDPA The International Defensive Pistol Association's local chapter offers a chance to practice defensive shooting skills in a competitive environment. Shooters compete in five different classifications, based on skill level. More info: Ipa@sjwf.org.

Cowboy action The Tres Rios Bandidos defends the territory every fourth Sunday of the month at the range. Long range shooters compete every fourth Saturday. Targets for the single shot matches are animal silhouettes. More info: trbcas.org.

Shotgun range The shotgun range offers lighted trap and skeet shooting. The next trap league begins March 14 and goes through May 30. Open practice is available when the range is open, even when the leagues are being shot. More info: sjwf.org