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May 05, 2008

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In Praise of Rawlins, Wyoming

Even though I live in the East, my heart belongs to the intermountain West. Anyone who has experienced an aspen grove ablaze with fall colors and echoing with the screams of bull elk knows what I mean. The same goes for the sensations evoked by the sound of the wind whistling across a rolling grassland or the foreboding geography that defines the Badlands.

Not surprisingly, lots of sportsmen feel the same way, and this affinity for these areas of the U.S. were part of the reason so many places from Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho ranked high in our list of the top 200 towns for sportsmen

Of course, not everyone agreed with our picks. Some were miffed that we listed their particular town, worried it would trigger a flood of Mercedes-driving out-of-staters who would crowd them out of their honey holes and drive up housing costs.

Others felt we overlooked a town dear to them that should have made the list.

Such was the case with reader John D. Farr who sent us an email extolling the virtues of his home, Rawlins, Wyoming.

One of the many charms of Rawlings for outdoorsmen, Farr wrote, is that it has a world-class shooting range. I’m always on the lookout for good gun ranges (one of the symptoms of being a gun nut) and decided to check it out.

What I found was the Rawlins Wyoming Family Recreation Center. Following this link on the town’s Web site I saw that the town-run rec center boasts ten 25-meter indoor shooting lanes. Imagine that. A town that believes so strongly in the family-friendly nature of the shooting sports that it built a range for parents and their children.

I stand behind our list of 200, but I think that Farr has a point. We should all be so lucky to live in a town like Rawlins.

—John Snow