Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf Hosts Third Annual Vortex Extreme
Article and photos by Tessa Karrington
Just as the technology world is constantly evolving, so is the world of outdoor sports. New shooting sports, such as rifle golf, are creating a new breed of outdoorsmen who love the challenge of pushing their limits. Not only does rifle golf push limits, it also helps hunters dial in their shot and rise to the most extreme challenges.
One competition that stands above all other extreme challenges is Vortex Extreme. Recently, Vortex Optics took advantage of the unique rifle golf course set up at Spirit Ridge in Tremonton, Utah, to host the annual Vortex Extreme, one of the industry’s most challenging yet rewarding endurance and accuracy matches.
“The Vortex extreme is a highly unique event that blends long-rang shooting with a physically-challenging 7-mile course,” said Mark Boardman, Vortex Optics marketing manager. Competitors run, hike, and walk to each shooting station carrying everything needed to engage targets and ultimately cross the finish line. The natural terrain and design of the Spirit Ridge facility make it the ideal platform to host the competition.
This was the third year that Vortex Optics and Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf teamed up to put on the tournament. Close to 100 people gathered at Spirit Ridge on Saturday, July 27th to participate and watch the action. There were nearly 40 teams of two who prepared for a day of extreme running, extreme shooting and extreme competition.
DURING THE COMPETITION, hunters traverse seven miles of land, including a steep hill known as “Widow Maker” and mountain passes like “Mulligans Pass”. While competitors are running to and from each station, the team carries back packs that contain everything they will need, including their rifle, ammunition, food and water.
Teams begin the tournament five minutes apart starting at 6:30 a.m. and most teams finish in four hours or less. They arrive at six stations throughout the tournament, along with the driving range and bonus holes, where guides, EMTs and other volunteers keep a watchful eye on the contestants as the teams stay focused on dialing in their shot. Participants must stay with their partner while running and shooting and they are timed for the entire race.
Though the tournament may sound brutal, many teams come back again and again. This being the third annual Vortex Extreme, many participants, like Utah local Eric Omen, are returning shooters.
“The experience I had at Vortex Extreme was fun and challenging. It is always good to push my skills to the max,” third year veteran Omen said. “Many great memories and many new friends were made here.”
Teams from all over the country gather at Spirit Ridge to participate in the competition. This year, teams came from Wisconsin, California, Wyoming, Idaho and others.
“I had a great time watching teams compete,” spectator Ryan Baylis said. “It is amazing how one tournament can help you dial in your shot and hit the target exactly where you planned. Rifle golf is unlike any sport you’ll ever see.”
Teams are scored by how long the entire race takes them along with how many shots they make and miss. The total shots are added up, and the teams with the combination of fastest times and most accurate shots win.
THIS YEAR’S WINNERS WERE Bullseye Precision in first, Team Eberlestock in second and Cross Canyon Arms rounding out the top three. Teams of all types entered the tournament and the top ten teams finished within a few minutes of each other.
Every year the tournament gains popularity and teams get more competitive. Prizes like Vortex scopes and the newest hunting equipment is given away in raffle prizes and auctions.
“I’m so glad I participated in the tournament again this year,” Omen said. “I love shooting targets!”
Spirit Ridge has most of the season left and plans are in the works for other tournaments.
“This was a great season opener for Spirit Ridge and we are looking forward to next year’s event already,” Spirit Ridge marketing director Jeff Petersen said.
Vortex Extreme was created when Vortex Optics Regional Sales Representative Paul Kendall met Spirit Ridge staff at a trade show four years ago. Kendall visited the facility and came up with the idea of an endurance shooting match, one that would test the limits of any athlete to the extreme. From there, the tournament easily came together and has been one of Spirit Ridge’s most popular traditions to date.
Editor’s note: Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf was born in 2005 when we embarked on a mission to provide outdoorsmen with the most realistic, exhilarating and educational target shooting experience in the world. And we did it! Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf is the must-see, must-do shooting adventure for hunters and all outdoors enthusiasts! For more information on Spirit Ridge or Vortex Extreme, please visit www.spiritridgeriflegolf.com or contact us at 435-764-6980 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Spirit Ridge is also on Facebook and Twitter: @srriflegolf.