If you played a word association game and had to blurt out the first five words that came to mind when somebody mentioned Colorado College, ‘firearms’ probably wouldn’t be one of them. Guns are strictly prohibited on campus, so only a handful of students bring their weapons to school each year.
Those who do usually have them for two purposes: hunting or recreational shooting. Junior Andrew Gregovich hails from Juneau, Ala. and has been hunting deer and elk since age nine.
“It’s really tough to hunt at this school, honestly, and a lot of it has to do with the recent mass shootings,” Gregovich said.
Before the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, students were allowed to possess firearms on Colorado College’s campus. In those days, Campus Safety required gun owners to register their weapons with the school. Campus Safety also locked them away until an owner requested access. However, after the massacre in Blacksburg, CC changed its policy and banned firearms from school grounds. For this reason, Gregovich keeps his guns off campus.
Despite his expertise, Gregovich has not hunted in Colorado, mainly because it’s such a complicated and expensive endeavor.
“I don’t have time to go out in the preseason and scout or get a feeling of where the animals are. On top of that, I don’t want to spend, you know, $600 on an elk tag,” Gregovich said.
He’s not kidding. The days of Jeremiah Johnson rambling into the woods and shooting a doe for some delicious venison stew are over; now there’s some serious paperwork involved.
In order to kill just one animal, a hunter must register with the federal government, purchase a hunting license, and then purchase a tag for whatever species they would like to kill. He or she can only hunt in designated areas during the designated hunting season. Failure to comply with these federal regulations can result in legal prosecution.
Gregovich said there are a handful of students on campus who have grown up hunting. “I think there’s a larger group of people who are interested in hunting but have never really done it before,” he said. “Now that they’re out West, in a place where they can really do it, they’re out trying to do it, but it’s a really hard thing to get into.”
Recreational shooting, however, is a different story entirely. It can include everything from rifle target practice to shooting clay pigeons with a shotgun to decimating a tree stump with a handgun. Generally, recreational shooting is just having fun with firearms without killing anything. Dangerous? Absolutely, but you don’t need a tag to shoot an inanimate object.
There are, of course, safe alternatives to shooting beer cans in the woods with your buddies. Gregovich recommended two shooting ranges: Cactus Flats near Cañon City or Pikes Peak Gun Club, which is just east of town on S. Franceville Coal Mine Road. Both locations provide safe, controlled environments in which clients can rent guns, participate in target practice, and learn more about firearms.
People can also head to less formal locations up in the foothills that don’t require the supervision of an attendant to shoot recreationally. Gun owners like Gregovich, as well as fellow gun enthusiast and senior Colby Diamond, often drive their firearms and ammunition dozens of miles up mountain roads like Old Stage Road and Rampart Range.
“It’s a great way to bond with my roommates, plus it’s an awesome sport,” Diamond said.
The National Forest Service warns not to shoot within 150 feet of any building, road, campsite, restroom, or any other sign of civilization, so be careful to trek away from the road.
For those who have never discharged a firearm, there’s something deeply gratifying in squeezing the trigger. Said Diamond, “When you’ve got a pump-action shotgun in your hand it’s incredibly satisfying to smash some clays.”