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July 18, 2023

Magpul Wyoming Governor’s Match a Resounding Success Once Again

By Matt Manda

Wyoming will soon be home to a world-class, best-in-the-nation recreational shooting sports complex. That much is certain. It’s not a question of if or when, but more so a question of where.

The buzz around a future $10 million shooting complex in the state, as well as building momentum from successful competitions in previous years brought dozens of competitive shooters from across the country back to Casper, Wyo., for the second year in a row for the Magpul Wyoming Governor’s Match.

All signs pointed to a highly successful weekend, with plenty of momentum and excitement for the event – and state – moving forward.

The Competition

The Magpul Wyoming Governor’s Match is in its seventh year overall and has only increased in popularity since it first ran. The Governor’s Match is a national-level shooting sports competition that brings together not just some of the greatest competitive shooters in the world, but also numerous elected officials and members of the public to watch. Just to give a greater idea of the popularity of the event and who the competition draws each year, world-renowned competitive shooter Jerry Miculek attended and wowed both spectators and fellow competitors.

This year’s competition welcomed nearly 200 competitors who worked their way through a USPSA (U.S. Practical Shooting Association) Level II match that included 12 separate stages. NSSF, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, was a proud sponsor of the event.

“After a successful 2022 event, we were very proud to once again host the Magpul Wyoming Governor’s Match this year,” said Match Director Brian Shain of Casper Shooters Club. “With the turnout and high level of competition we saw, and the buzz from the event building momentum, it’s no doubt going to be even bigger and more successful next year.”

Putting Rounds on Paper and Steel

Wyoming’s Gov. Mark Gordon stopped by. He even shot through a few of the stages with fellow Wyoming legislators and chatted up event staff and range operators, as well as spectators just happy to watch the action. The governor’s attendance was no surprise given just how supportive of the firearm industry he’s been and the rich Second Amendment heritage of his state. In January, Gov. Gordon attended NSSF’s SHOT Show® 2023 not only to participate in the 2nd Annual Governor’s Forum to talk firearm industry impact and recruitment into Wyoming, but also speaking directly with NSSF’s Nephi Cole for an in-depth conversation about his track record. At the Magpul event, he sang the same praises.

“Magpul’s Governor’s Match is a summer tradition I look forward to every year,” Gov. Gordon said. “This match brings in some of the world’s best competitive shooters and highlights Wyoming’s commitment to the Second Amendment and the safe and proficient use of firearms.”

The governor and several Wyoming state legislators walked the course and even shot through a few stages to get a better understanding of the level of skill and competition the course demands.

State representatives and senators took aim at a steel buffalo target more than 750 yards down range while using different setups featuring rifles, optics and gear manufactured by some of Wyoming’s premiere firearm businesses. They also worked through stages in friendly competition and offered up – and received – some constructive feedback.

Serious Business Ahead

While the Governor’s Match was unquestionably the highlight of the weekend, state legislators used the opportunity of the match drawing so much attention and participation from around the state to kickoff a serious effort to bring the idea of a world-class shooting sports complex to fruition.

Earlier this year, the Wyoming legislature approved a $10 million appropriation to build a world-class recreational shooting sports complex. Along with the funding was a requirement for a governor-appointed task force to meet and develop guidelines for cities and counties across the state to offer proposals to land the complex.

The task force is made up of legislators, representatives from Wyoming’s Office of Tourism, Game and Fish Department, Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, Business Council, private businesses and conservation groups. It met for the first time in Casper before the matches kicked off.

State Sen. Larry Hicks co-sponsored the bill creating the task force and appropriating the $10 million. He explained that the shared vision for the complex is to be far more than just another shooting range. Officials want to build a complex that will rival several existing ranges already in other states across the region.

“This should be world class,” Sen. Hicks told task force attendees. “We do not want to cut ourselves short or sell ourselves short. We should go all out or we shouldn’t do this at all.”

NSSF’s Nephi Cole testified and gave a presentation covering popular recreational shooting sports activities, as well as showed task force members what existing shooting complexes do well, what they might not do well, and how the task force can take all that information into account when creating their guidelines. That even includes surrounding infrastructure, accessibility, food and hospitality accommodations and more.

All told, NSSF’s 2023 Firearm Industry Economic Impact survey reinforced what many in attendance already know: the firearm industry footprint in the Cowboy State is significant. The firearm industry generates more than 3,600 jobs, $163.5 million in wages and nearly $617 million in total economic impact. Under Gov. Gordon’s leadership, the footprint has only improved: Wyoming was included in the top 10 states in 2021 for firearm industry job growth per capita, as well as top 10 states for growth in economic output.

Altogether, between the governor’s task force kicking off their efforts, the buzz surrounding a brand new, world-class facility opening up in a few years and the excitement from everyone taking part in the Magpul Wyoming Governor’s Match, the weekend was a resounding success.

That’s putting Wyoming on target as a shooting sports haven.

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