August 20th, 2016 by Sam Morstan

Leupold Blends High Capacity With Quality, State-of-the-art Recycling To Produce Top Optics

STORY AND PHOTOS BY TROY RODAKOWSKI

The Leupold & Stevens factory in Beaverton, Ore., just west of Portland, stands on the far edge of a grassy, wooded hill at the end of a long, curving driveway, and the distance from the public street to the front door is just far enough to put one of their popular riflescopes or range finders to the test.

Standing at the sign out front, the headquarters could be taken for a small college or public library. Instead, this unassuming facility houses a beehive of activity in a multistory structure that cuts deeply down and into the hill, making the factory much larger – and more secure – than it appears. Despite its humble appearance, the campus supports more than 650 employees.

I recently visited Leupold for a tour courtesy of Dave Domin, one of the company’s marketing and communication specialists. My visit encompassed the entire production process from beginning to end and included a review of their state-of-the-art recycling program.

Each year, Leupold uses enough raw T6061 and T7075 aluminum that, if laid end to end, it would stretch from Beaverton to Chicago. Due to a close partnership with INDEX, one of the world’s premium machine tool builders, they have the largest installation of that company’s products west of the Mississippi. All 45 machines are customized to a specific manufacturing need.

But despite the high volume, nothing at the facility goes to waste. The use of strike-forged steel and near-net-shape parts saves time and trash, but Leupold also boasts one of the best recycling programs in the West, as aluminum chip waste is systematically formed into “pucks.” These pucks, worth three times more than loose aluminum chips, are shipped back to fabricators and are in turn melted down and reformed into new bar stock to be used again.

Leupold marketing and communications specialist Dave Domin shows off some of the bar stock used to manufacture the majority of scopes at the plant.

In addition, the companywide recycling program includes coolant, paper, cardboard, wood and batteries.

The base-and-ring-manufacturing section of the factory produces 440 different bases designed to fit more than 380 unique firearms. More than a million bases are manufactured per year, representing nearly 40,000 base-and-ring combinations.

Leupold’s Custom Shop was founded in 2005, and leads the industry in custom exterior color and patterns, reticles, adjustments, engraving and more. Custom engraving is always available, with all markings on scopes made by high-speed laser. In addition, the company laser engraves more than 15,000 custom dials a year, with more than a million different custom combos available.

The company boasts nine unique assembly lines incorporating more than 200 individual parts per scope. Continuous quality checks spaced throughout the process ensure no defect is passed along. All scopes are strenuously tested using live fire before departing the factory, and are pressure tested to ensure that the finished product meets the highest industry standards.

Recycled aluminum is sent back in “puck” form to be melted down and re-used.

All scope and optic assembly and testing occurs in climate-controlled “clean rooms” free from dust and other organic particles that could possibly affect the performance of their product, and every employee working in this part of the facility wears a protective suit over their clothing. Anyone who has used Leupold optics knows they are dependable, durable and stand up alongside the top names in the business. I use a Leupold scope that was constructed in the 1960s, and this “outdated” instrument still ensures that one of my .308 rifles drives tacks at 100 yards.

Rough-cut aluminum scopes (right) take shape (left) as they make their way through Leupold’s precision manufacturing and cutting equipment.

With a product service team representing more than 300 years of experience, Leupold continues to repair scopes dating back to the late 1940s, and if they aren’t able to repair them, they will replace them with an equivalent current model in an average turnaround time of just seven days. Their services include reticle changes, adjustment upgrades, cleaning and inspecting, among many other things. In addition to their Beaverton plant, Leupold has international repair facilities in Canada, Australia, Sweden and Germany, and these five service nearly 40,000 products annually. Each year, team members respond to 145,000 phone calls, 48,000 emails and process 47,000 product orders.

The Leupold & Stevens factory provides jobs for more than 650 people who produce top-quality riflescopes and other optics.

With top-of-the-line products supported by exceptional service, it’s no mystery why Leupold scopes, binoculars, range finders, spotting scopes and other optics remain some of the most respected on the market. ASJ

Posted in Gear Tagged with: , , , , , ,

January 25th, 2016 by Danielle Breteau

SHOT Show 2016 – American Shooting Journal winners

Recapping an excellent trade show

The American Shooting Journal featured a forever-spinning raffle wheel that never stopped during the 2016 SHOT Show. The winners were endless, we couldn’t feature them all.

Brittany Boddington, international huntress phenom and Tom Claycomb, AMSJ survivalist contributor, visiting to sign autographs. 

 

Jose Martinez with The Gunfather and Theresa-min

Louie Tuminaro AKA The Gunfather with veteran Jose Martinez whose image we felt earned the right to adorn the November 2015 veteran’s cover of ASJ and Theresa “T-Bone” Tuminaro grinningly signed autographs.

 

The American Shooting Journal SHOT Show booth was packed throughout the show. The raffle wheel never stopped spinning and shooting out great prizes to winners all day long.

 

Utiliclip

Ulti-Clip was in the house. This little gadget redefines the idea of having a concealed holster and stole the show this year. We were thrilled to partner with them.

 

Savoy Leather

Savoy Leather makes custom leather holsters for all walks of gun toters. This Vietnam vet was thrilled with his loot from the raffle wheel.

Chuck Larson Shyanne fans-min

Chuck Larson, president of Rock River Arms and sponsor for youth shooter Shyanne Roberts  had to have his photo taken with her cover poster. 

Among the great prizes that the raffle wheel spun out, this Cold Steel blade was a treasure.

We armed this dangerous woman with an amazing Hogue hatchet after she presented her GOLDEN TICKET and spun the great prize wheel. Awesome!

Law enforcement officer Joe Gallagher won the Layke Tactical .308 AR, and all thanks to the The Gunfather’s wife Theresa “T-Bone” who spun the wheel for him. Isn’t he thrilled she spun the wheel?

One of our amazing prizes was the sniper crossbow by Mission by Matthews. This winner was stoked.

Robert Bodron, owner and custom gunsmith of Riverdale Custom Shop, won the RTD Arms .308 RT-10. This guy must be related to Grizzly Adams.

 

Troy Rodakowski

Contributor and American Shooting Journal cover star Troy Rodakowski rockin’ the ASJ booth and promoting his awesome duck-hunting image.

 

Pat Surline Inland manufacturing winner-min

Pat Surline, winner of the Inland Manufacturing 1911 and a Kickeez recoil pad. He was so excited that after winning, he walked around the show in a daze.

several people walked away with a new Shooting Chrony – the best device to track your rounds.

Shooting Chrony winner!!!

Shyanne Roberts’ fans who came to have their photo taken in front of her poster.

SHOT Show 2016 – the end. Not a prize left, and what a great show.

 

 

 

Posted in Editor's Blog Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

November 11th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Veteran And Triple-amputee Jose Martinez Isn’t Giving Up

Story by Troy Rodakowski • Photographs by Veteran Sportsman Alliance

TOC FEATURE 1 Jose Martinez

Growing up in Compton, Calif., wouldn’t be easy for anyone. This is a part of our country where gang violence and drugs are prevalent and tough to steer clear from. However, for Jose Martinez, living near these negative distractions was a way of life where he did his best to survive and make smart decisions.

PHOTO 2 JOse at the fireplace -minIn an effort to better himself, Martinez enlisted in the US Army to serve our country in Afghanistan. He was in the infantry division and stationed near Kandahar where his unit saw regular action. “There was rarely a mission that we didn’t have a few casualties, or at least get shot at,” says Specialist Martinez a three-year Army infantryman. His plans were to make a career of the military because, among many aspects, he enjoyed the camaraderie, stability and brotherhood it provided.

As a kid, Martinez struggled with his weight and self-esteem, finding it hard to think highly of himself. When he got older and lost weight, he learned to appreciate who he was as a person and stood a little bit taller. Prior to departing for Afghanistan he met a met a very nice lady through friends and they hit it off. After he deployed, he would make a point to contact her after missions, send her flowers on Valentine’s Day and keep in touch regularly. Little did he know that one day she would be his rock, eventually becoming his wife and life partner.

Jose MartinezOn a routine mission Martinez encountered an improvised explosive device (IED) that rendered him unconscious and disfigured his body. The injuries he sustained would change his life forever in so many ways. “When I woke up I was disgusted with myself and my body, just as I had been during my childhood.” The explosion cost him both of his legs and an arm. The doctors had informed him that he would be permanently attached to a wheelchair and would be lucky if he would ever be able to stand for five minutes, let alone walk.

Martinez was determined to prove the doctors wrong and now spends the majority of his time on his prosthetics, regardless of the pain they cause him by constantly breaking skin around his waistline. “This is just a small price I pay to feel somewhat normal,” says Martinez. Learning to love his body has once again become a constant struggle. He is missing limbs and is badly scarred.

Jose Martinez

During the first stages of recovery Martinez was consumed by prescription pills. Often times, he felt using pills would help him sleep and forget that he had lost his arm and both legs. In fact, there were several instances when he tried consuming so many pills in hopes of not waking up. The pills were helping him run away from the reality that was ugly and disgusting. That being said, we are reminded that 22 veterans a day commit suicide, and that most narcotics just numb the pain until the cliff of depression consumes them. Martinez is proud to say he has not taken a pill in well over two years and regularly reminds others that pills are not always the best answer. “If I were still on pills, I’d be in the corner scared to leave my house, and that’s not me,” explains Jose.
GROUP 1 IMG_8268-minGROUP 3 IMG_8371-min

Martinez is thankful to several people who he has encountered during recovery, and helped him defy all odds by learning to walk – he can now truly stand proud. “I have learned to love every part of me all over again,” says Martinez. Venturing out into public for the first few times was difficult, both physically and mentally. When people stared, it was tough for him to ignore the looks. His wife always reminded him that it really didn’t matter what people thought since he wouldn’t be seeing them again anyway. “Having her by my side throughout this entire process has given me a realistic hope in humanity. She has shown me how proud she is and I love standing tall next to her,” explains Martinez.

The Dog Zoey

Family member Zoey

Never forgetting his roots and how tough life was and can be, Martinez now regularly engages in motivational speaking for school kids, veterans and other groups. “I get nervous, my heart races and palms sweat, but before I know it I’m done talking and time has flown by,” says Martinez. He enjoys telling folks that nothing is impossible and that if you put your mind to it, you will be successful! Motivating people brings a huge smile to his face, as he is able to show others that success with anything comes from the inside.

Growing up, Martinez idolized Michael Jordan and owned several pairs of his sneakers, some of which he still wears today. Just as Jordan never gave up, nor has Martinez, and he uses that same outlook to persevere under any circumstances. He understands that there will be setbacks and failures on the journey of life, but remains very determined to defy the odds. “I want kids to grow up and truly believe that they can be what they desire, spark their imagination and inspire them to dream,” says Martinez. Through all of this he remains humble, and says that he is just doing his job by helping others.

Prior to joining the military he had never hunted or fished, let alone fired a rifle. Growing up he always wanted to learn, and appreciated that people could independently feed themselves in these ways. “Hunting and being able to provide for my family seems very American to me,” he says. “I never imagined I’d be capable of, or even have the opportunity to hunt, especially after my injuries.”

Veterans Sportsman Alliance

The VSA warrior shield is presented to every hero who becomes a VSA member.

In August 2013 Martinez was on a diving trip off the Caribbean island of Bonaire when he met a guy named Hugh. Hugh had promised him that he would get him shooting again, so the two exchanged numbers. A couple months later Hugh called and invited Martinez on a pheasant hunt in Sioux Falls, S.D. “Hugh helped me learn how to shoot all over again, and I haven’t stopped hunting ever since. I cannot thank that man enough,” says Jose. Since then he has embarked on several adventures hunting hogs, elk and other critters with assistance from Lonestar Warriors Outdoors and the Veterans Sportsman Alliance, an organization dedicated to wounded veterans and whose motto is, “Benefiting the most worthy among us.” Actually, the VSA has become Martinez’s second family.

Jose Martinez

Jose Martinez took this amazing bull elk in Arizona at the Dunton Ranch North Fort Rock sponsored by the Veterans Sportsman Alliance. His rifle of choice? A Remington 700, 7mm mag, bedded with a floated barrel, Timney trigger, Nightforce Optic and some other secret tweaks built by his friend Robert Wise.

VSA LOGO

Hunting has provided Jose with the motivation to become better at walking so that he will eventually be able to hunt different types of terrain. Being outdoors makes him feel human again. He feels as if he has no wounds, and is part of the natural world without judgement. Martinez is able to push his body to the limit, and challenge himself to walk on his prosthetics, which in turn makes him feel invigorated and free.

Jose Martinez

Jose Martinez has a family, but unlike many, he has a second family and that is the Veterans Sportman Alliance, a group dedicated to veterans and getting them out hunting, fishing and just about any other type of activity that leads to healthy, positive lives.

Jose wants today’s children to understand that hard work does pay off. “If kids just had the opportunities to explore sports like football, basketball, archery, skiing or shooting without worrying about money, that would be amazing,” says Jose. He would love to help organizations that reward kids for making good grades with these sorts of activities. In addition, through motivational speaking he hopes to encourage veterans to be outdoors, enjoy nature and heal emotionally. I asked him if he could say one thing to veterans returning from combat. He replied, “No matter what, you aren’t alone, there are people who truly care for you and will help.”

Jose Martinez is a Purple Heart recipient and modern-day hero. That is truly an inspiration for anyone. He is living proof that the American dream is possible, regardless of one’s disabilities or humble beginnings. ASJ

The Veterans Sportsman Alliance presented Martinez with this S&W 460XVR complete with a 14-inch barrel, muzzle brake, Leupold FX-II Handgun 4x28mm optic and bipod, all built by the Smith & Wesson Performance Center. This hand cannon came with a Sandstorm custom rifle sling and Hornady 460 S&W 200-grain FTX ammunition, and the entire package was customized specifically to fit Martinez and his needs. According to S&W, this gun offers the highest muzzle velocity of any production revolver on earth.

Editor’s note: For more information on the Veterans Sportsman Alliance and what they do for our veterans, or how you can help, visit them at veteransportmanalliance.org. The American Shooting Journal featured jose Martinez on the cover of their November 2015 veteran’s issue. 

Veteran Sportsman Alliance

American Shooting Journal November 2015 Cover






 

Posted in Shooters Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

September 10th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Northwest Pre-Hunting Prep


Story and photograph by Troy Rodakowski


With one of the driest years on record, the Pacific Northwest is looking at potentially some of the toughest hunting conditions in decades. Fire restrictions and private land closures coupled with access restrictions to federal and state lands may make it tougher than ever for hunters to fill their freezers this season. I don’t mean to be Mr. Negative, but I have personally never seen things quite so tough in my lifetime.

What is going on? It’s simple: times are changing. First of all, the weather has thrown a major monkey wrench into where and how we will hunt this season. State agencies throughout the Northwest have declared 2015 “the worst drought on record and 98 percent of Washington is included.” Virtually, every county throughout the region will qualify for some relief funds solely due to weather. “Weather patterns in the region show a strengthening El Niño with warmer water and weather,” said Nick Bond from the office of Washington State Climatologist. This is not great news for many outdoor enthusiasts and will make for tough times ahead.

Troy Rodakowski

Getting prepared for hunting season can take a lot of effort and research, but if you stay on top of your fitness level, the weather conditions, land closures and updates, you will find yourself far ahead of the game when the opening bell rings.

With that being said, there are still a few bright spots. Brian Wolfer, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist from Springfield, Ore., says, “With no snow cover, there was plenty of winter forage and the south-facing slopes greened up early. This was good for the elk, but it made our herd-composition surveys difficult. The elk should have entered this spring in good condition.”

Wolfer made sure to point out that a prolonged drought could be a different story and would more than likely start to impact populations.

This will be a key ingredient for success this year, and if you haven’t figured out where you might want to hunt, you better start doing some research. It is possible that many locations will have restrictions due to severe fire danger. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting hotter, drier weather for the Pacific Northwest – and California as well – during the weeks leading up to hunting season. But it’s the weather; anything can happen, as we all know.

Troy Rodakowski

In the Pacific Northwest, you may find that your traditional hunting locations are not available due to the current drought and fire restrictions. Having to explore other areas or venture further into the wilderness for the same level of opportunity might be on the menu this season.

“We measured several inches of rain in late May, which resulted in very good forage conditions across the district,” says biologist Craig Foster in Lakeview, Ore. “Now with things turning hotter earlier, grasses and forbs will dry and forage quality will drop. If the hot weather persists, I expect to see the few elk we have start using higher elevations or northern slopes to beat the heat and find the best feed. Usually when it’s really hot they spend most of the day bedded and feed early in the morning or late in the evening. This isn’t very different from any other summer, but the amount of time laying around in the shade increases with hotter weather. No matter where you are in the country, the weather patterns have shifted and we must adapt accordingly.”

When it comes to preparing yourself for hunting, make sure that you hit the range several times with your rifle, muzzleloader and archery equipment. If you can’t be in the woods scouting, you might as well get into top shooting form and practice. Shoot at different yardages and at different times of day. People tend to forget that equipment performs differently in relation to temperature and elevation. Acclimate yourself accordingly with your weapon of choice. You might be asking, what does he mean? Every hunting situation produces its own unique set of variables. Practice on windy days, in low-light conditions or in the early morning when it’s cool and foggy. You will find that your confidence level rises when presented with real-life hunting scenarios. The game of success is at least 75 percent mental. Visit some archery 3-D shoots, train-to-hunt challenges, long-range rifle or local competitions to hone your skills.

There is a pretty good chance that you will have to hike and hunt farther from road systems and trails to find your prize this year.

Big game species will frequent the cooler slopes of mountain ridges as they seek out secluded creek drainages with water sources. Find the water in late September and October and you will have increased your odds of success. Many of these locations can be found a ridge or two over from high-traffic areas. Another option for overcoming some of the restrictions this year would be to get into the backcountry. These hunts are difficult and require even more physical excertion and effort. All the more reason to be in the best physical condition.

Troy Rodakowski and Sage

Sage loves to go on hunts and rewards her owner when he doesn’t miss a shot.

 

Eating healthy is very important, and drinking plenty of water along with a balanced vitamin intake can greatly help you hike that extra mile. I like to use Muscle Milk and MTN OPS vitamin and energy supplements during the season. While it is never too late to start a healthy fitness regime, it makes even more sense to stay in shape throughout the year.

So what does this all mean? It means that the places we are familiar with and have hunted in the past may not be accessible this season or even available at all. Making alternative plans and knowing the restrictions in place for your area is top priority. This may be the year you book a guided trip on private lands where access is allowed. Believe me, it is tough to spend the extra money on a hunting trip, but this year, more than ever before, I am more than willing to throw some greenbacks at Mother Nature. If she’s going to throw me a curve ball, I’m going to take my best swing at what she is offering. ASJ

Troy Rodakowski

Many hunters may have to pack out this fall. While this can be a lot of extra work, it is one of the most rewarding forms of hunting, and will require a certain level physical fitness. These longer treks may  be necessary due to warmer weather.

Author’s note: For updates on current land restrictions here are some links: 

US Forest Service

fs.fed.us

n Bureau of Land Management

blm.gov/wo/st/en

n National Interagency Fire Center 

gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Hunting Tagged with: , , , , , ,

August 25th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Gun Dog Prep

Story and photographs by Troy Rodakowski

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I’ve always been partial to pointing dogs. I like a good shorthair that enjoys getting wet and will also hunt waterfowl. This is obviously something you have to teach them at a very young age as they tend to shy away from swimming and sprinklers.

Working dogs can be found in many shapes, sizes, colors and temperaments. I remember the first bird that my old German shorthaired pointer found in the tall grass many seasons back. I felt like a proud papa watching him lock up tight on that Hungarian partridge. After 14 years of companionship, hunting and adventure, I lost my buddy to old age. As I look back on all the memories with my pooch, tears still well up in my eyes as those good times flood to the surface. That was four years ago, the day I had to put my best buddy and hunting companion to sleep.

I have now embarked (no pun intended) on a new journey with a brand new gun-dog pup. He is a relative of my old pal and in many ways reminds me of him when he was little, including all the chewing, biting, puppy messes and training that will one day, hopefully, lead to a full-fledged hunting partner.

Working dogs, as we like to call them, live for two things: 1) you; 2) the hunt or the specific job they are trained to do. Long hours of work and training pay dividends in developing the perfect companion, and this of course does not come without sacrifice from other activities.

 

Gun Dogs

I have hunted with several breeds including Labradors, vizslas, pudelpointers, Weimaraners, shorthairs, spaniels, beagles and many more. They all have their own excellent attributes, PHOTO 3 079-1TRwhich makes them special and a fit for our personalities as owners. With the upland and waterfowl seasons quickly approaching we prepare our gear, and, most importantly, we prepare our four-legged companions with training and exercise. Frequent outings into the field are a must with the flame of the coming seasons burning strong. Smells of autumn wafting on the breeze invigorate the senses.

Many folks like to take their dogs to game-bird farms or ranches as a warm-up, and I think this is an excellent idea that can be very insightful when planning for a successful year. Some wildlife ranches open around the middle of August and offer great shooting and training. Hunt and retriever clubs also offer field-trial events throughout the year to keep your dog tuned and in good physical condition. Many times they even offer trial grading towards hunt championships and classifications. These are both important aspects in one’s routine to have better success during the season. “Getting a pup and even a seasoned dog off to a good start or refreshing their memory is important,” says George Dern, owner of the DK Wildlife Ranch in Crawfordsville, Ore.

Having a companion and good hunting partner is all many of us desire to be satisfied and feel accomplished with our canines. Once again, I have chosen to take on the challenge of training a puppy and watching him grow and succeed, much like a proud parent watches their child transform into adulthood.

PHOTO 5 Sunrise Waterfowl TR

Our four-legged hunting companions learn and are bred to be equally as eager as we are for hunting opportunites. This Lab patiently awaits shooting light over the marsh.

Starting Over

As I go through the chewing, biting, puking, pooping and endless energy of the puppy stage, I look to the future of a partner to share memories with and sometimes wonder if I was somewhat crazy to take on the challenge once again. I remind myself of what is to come and how much I will miss my buddy being small and pretty darn cute. Dern recently reminded me, “Start your pup off slow and get them excited about birds and feathers. That excitement will build as they mature.” With fall approaching many of us are looking forward to the morning we grab our guns, gear and pooch to chase game birds.

“They are more than just pets and hunting dogs; they are a huge part of our lives…”

A seasoned dog can sense the change in the seasons, and they do not want to miss a chance to please us. In fact, I have even seen that look after missing a bird.  You know the one! The one that says, “Hey, I did my job, obeyed, found the birds and listened to your commands. Now why did you miss again?” Well, because I need more practice on the trap and skeet range, little buddy. As a master I hate to disappoint, and I have found that my shooting skills are not always up to par. Regardless, our furry friends keep doing their job no matter how often we might miss the target.

 

The Reality

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Labs are great dogs and I’ve had the pleasure to hunt with them on several occasions. They love the water and are well-mannered waterfowl dogs that can handle some cold, snowy and rainy conditions. I have also seen a few do really well hunting upland birds, which was mighty impressive.

With any job, there is always a chance of injury, and with hunting dogs it is no different. From small scratches to broken bones, pulled muscles to being sprayed by a skunk, or worse, bitten by a snake, field dogs are put at risk each time they go out. Some dogs have even lost their lives doing what they love and were trained to do.

“We lost a dog in one of our ponds after he had an apparent heart attack following a routine retrieve,” Dern shared. It is heartbreaking but a reality we deal with as sportsman and dog owners. I know a few hunters who have lost good hounds to mountain lions, bears and the environment. It is a risk we take and reality we live with as the owners of working dogs. Accidents happen, especially in the wild.

Regardless of the breed or dog you have and are proud to call your hunting companion, we all share a similar bond as dog owners. “They are more than just pets and hunting dogs; they are a huge part of our lives, and for many of us it’s more than just a desire; it’s a necessity to have that relationship,” says Gary Lewis, author of Hunting Oregon. It’s tough and rewarding work, but worth a lifetime of love and companionship. As we watch our companions grow old, and unable to do what they love, they are just happy being by our side to share time with us. Remember, as you watch that point or retrieve with your best friend this season, make sure you are there for them so together you can keep doing what you love. Good luck and happy hunting. ASJ

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Posted in Hunting Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,