Thunder Hole Long Range
near Bryan/College Station, TX
The Thunder Hole Long Range facility, which is near the Willow Hole Cowboy Action range, hosts a monthly match on the Sunday following the 3rd Saturday. This match uses true period correct rifles and cartridges and may be shot with either lever action or single shot rifles (or replicas) available in the pre-1900 time period.
The match is a relaxed, relay type format where up to 10 people may shoot on each relay, with each shooter firing in sequence. That is, Shooter #1 fires a round, then Shooter #2, Shooter #3, etc. Thus, you have plenty of time to get ready for your next shot – nobody is rushed.
Thunder Hole shoots a “gong” match. This is simply a square steel plate at specified distances with a simple hit or a miss on the target. The targets range from 12” square at 100 yards to 48” square at 600 yards. Except for the 100 yard target, most are equal in size to 8 MOA (minutes of angle). The exceptions are the 250 and 465 yard targets – these are considered “bonus” targets and will be smaller than 8 MOA.
All ammunition must use lead bullets – no jacketed bullets. The propellant may be either smokeless or black powder, but the cartridge must be a period-correct cartridge. Since we’re a relaxed (for fun) type shoot, you can use gas checks if you like. Just be aware that you won’t be able to use them in any official matches anywhere.
The range opens at 8:30 am, with sight-in at 9:00 and the match starting approximately 10:00. We typically finish about 1:00 pm.
Long Range Single Shot Category
Single shot rifles are typically Sharps (most commonly the 1874 model), Winchester Highwall or Remington Rolling Block. Other types are certainly available (Stevens 44-1/2, Borchardt, etc.) but far less common.
Sights may be any type of open sight, or period correct telescopic sights (such as the Malcolm telescopic sight). Whatever the sight type, it must be period correct.
Cartridges must be a minimum of 32 caliber up to 50 caliber. The most common are the 38-55, 40-65, and 45-70. These provide sufficient power without punishing recoil. However, if you want to drag out your 50-140 elephant howitzer – have at it!
The single shot match uses targets at 100, 200, 250, 300, 400, 465, 500 and 600 yards. The match totals 26 rounds of ammunition, plus what you use for sight-in.
Long Range Lever Rifle Category
The lever rifle category uses the same targets as the single shot, but only goes out to 300 yards – again totaling 26 rounds. Specifically you will shoot the 100, 200, 250, 300 and then come back inward, shooting the 300, 250,. 200 and 100 yard targets a 2nd time.
Rifles commonly used are the Marlin 336, Marlin 1895, Winchester 1876 and Winchester 1894. Minimum caliber is 30 in lever rifle category. The most common cartridges are the 30-30, 38-55 and the 45-70. There are, however, may other suitable cartridges if you happen to have a rifle chambered for them (40-60, 45-75, 50-90, etc.).