Issue 42 Gone Shootin’: Rockcastle Shooting Center Steven Kuo This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 42 Story By Steven Kuo Photos By Steven Kuo and Rob Curtis The American Dream of the Most American of Pursuits The story of the Rockcastle Shooting Center is uniquely American — two brothers leaving their 9 to 5 corporate jobs to follow their passion and build their own business. And build it they have, with Rockcastle having become quite a destination for various shooting competitions, including major matches such as the Rockcastle 3-gun Pro-Am, Mammoth Sniper Challenge, Blue Ridge Mountain 3-gun, and other notable gatherings like the Industry Choice Awards. Nick Noble (in purple) stuffing magazines during a match. Nick and Nate Noble grew up in Colorado, sons of an artist, guide, and outfitter. They eventually ended up in Bowling Green, Kentucky, working for two different divisions of the same consumer products company, selling heaters via home improvement, sporting goods, and other stores around the country. Nick ascended to the role of vice president of sales in one group and Nate the director of sales in another. Despite their successful careers, as many a red-blooded American, they had a longing to own and run their own business, to be their own boss. And they wanted it to relate to things they loved, like shooting, hunting, fishing, and camping. From natural terrain to bays to structures and caves, there’s a great variety of shooting venues. Eventually, they came across the Rockcastle property in Park City, Kentucky. Approximately halfway between Nashville and Louisville, it’s just a few miles from the Mammoth Cave National Park, the world’s longest known cave system with over 400 miles of underground passageways having been surveyed. The resort, featuring two 18-hole golf courses, had been very popular in the past but began declining in the ’80s under absentee overseas owners who had made a number of real estate investments in the U.S. It took a year and a half to push over the finish line, but Nick and Nate finally bought it at the tail end of 2009 and immediately got to work transforming it into a Mecca for guns. The Rockcastle Lodge, with almost 100 rooms, a restaurant, and a bar and wine tasting room. A Golf Course Is a Waste of a Perfectly Good Firing Range There’s that old saying that a golf course is a waste of a perfectly good firing range. With almost 2,000 acres to work with, plus miles and miles of paved roads, trails, and logging roads, Rockcastle has its cake and eats it too. The Nobles simply kept one of the golf courses in place and converted the other into ranges. All told, there are now pistol bays, rifle ranges (including long range out to a mile), shotgun courses, a cowboy town, and a 20-target 3-D archery course. The shotgun amenities include five-stand with six trap machines, a wobble trap, and Cave Mountain Clays, a 12-station sporting clay course. The latter encompasses 100 targets — we’ve shot the whole course ourselves, and it’s an absolute blast. Range memberships start at $150 per year, and anyone can use a pistol or rifle bay for $10 per hour. Shooting the Cave Mountain Clays course is $45 for a round plus $15 for cart rental, with memberships and discounts available. The vineyard at Rockcastle. In addition to the major shooting competitions we mentioned before, Rockcastle also hosts events like the Industry Choice Awards, Industry Masters, and benefits for organizations such as the Night Stalker Association and Special Forces Association. Including local and regional matches, Rockcastle hosts around 50 matches each year, including pistol, 3-gun, precision rifle, cowboy, sporting clays, and more. Among other events, we’ve shot the Industry Team Challenge match at Rockcastle, which brings together representatives from companies throughout the industry every year. Designed by Andy Horner, the match is a great testament to what the Rock has to offer, with a wide variety of challenges including natural terrain three-gun, long range, five stand, sporting clays, action pistol, and other creative and fun stages. Nate Noble delivering the opening brief at the Industry Team Challenge match. Given its proximity to the Mammoth Caves, it should be no surprise that Rockcastle has caves too. There’s over 50 miles of caves on the property, with some home to endangered bats, hundreds of thousands of them. And a bunch of nasty cave crickets that might make your skin crawl. Cue the Hans Zimmer soundtrack. Some of the caves are used for live fire training and occasionally during large matches. If you’ve never shot in a pitch black cave, take our word for it, it’s a truly remarkable experience — one for your bucket list. The first custom home built in Rockcastle Estates. There are also training classes, from beginning to advanced, about one per week. Organized both by Rockcastle itself and outside parties, curriculums for courses can include everything from shooting and concealed carry to land navigation, tracking, survival, and search and rescue. Agencies and military also use the facility for training, while corporations have run team building events with their executives. Television and film productions have also filmed at Rockcastle. The wide variety of available ranges, land use, on-site lodging, and caves make Rockcastle a unique venue. 3-D archery targets used creatively in combination with steel targets to make a long-range rifle stage even cooler. The Finer Things As shocking as it may seem, there are other fun and interesting activities besides shooting. You can play 18 holes of golf at Rockcastle — a round with a cart is $26, and golf packages start at $199. Rockcastle also has its own winery, with over 6,000 pounds of grapes taken last year and estate wines already available. There’s live music every Saturday night and motocross and ATV races several times a year. And you can commission guided hunts for game like deer and turkey. Originally built in 1964, the Rockcastle Lodge features almost 100 rooms, a restaurant, and a bar and wine tasting room. Newer areas like the bar are sumptuous, while others show their age. Window-mounted air conditioners and shower wall-mounted soap dispensers in the guest rooms won’t remind you of a Four Seasons. But around half of the rooms have been updated, and the Lodge is comfortable and clean, with helpful and friendly staff. And we figure if you’re spending that much time in your room at Rockcastle, you’re doing it wrong. Get out and enjoy the grounds. Rack rates for rooms range from $59 to $99 per night, depending on the season. Rockcastle has a lot for scattergun enthusiasts, including five-stand with six trap machines, a wobble trap, and Cave Mountain Clays, a 12-station sporting clay course. As with any small family owned business, everyone pitches in, but in general Nate handles more of the match organization and sponsorship, while Nick oversees operations and finance. They both work on sales and marketing, while their dad also helps with the business and mom with the winery. It took around five years for Rockcastle to finally turn cash flow positive. Always looking to continue growing the business, the Nobles have a number of initiatives in progress. Rockcastle Estates is what they describe as a “2A community,” a planned development with bespoke homes built for like-minded families. Several lots with golf course and valley views have already been sold in the first phase, and one custom home has already been built. We’ve spent many a long night in the bar hoisting our glasses with old and new friends. What’s Next Looking to the next step, the Nobles are expanding on this even further by developing a planned preparedness community for everything from weekend getaways to bugging out. Individuals, families, and organizations have several options to participate, from lots in an RV park to small multi-unit dwellings to private suites in the Lodge to custom homes in Rockcastle Estates. In addition to the self-sufficient facility, Rockcastle will provide preparedness services, storage, resources, facilities, equipment, training, and tools to provide a turnkey bug-out location. In fact, the Nobles calculated that almost two-thirds of the population of the U.S. is within one day’s drive of Park City, making it a potential fallback option for many folks. They’re also working on a private membership firearms and adventure club. The Rockcastle Club will provide concierge-style experiences for its membership — whatever they may desire, be it hunting, fly fishing, machine guns, golf, driving, helicopters, or anything the imagination conjures up. Along with all this will come extensive remodeling and expansion of amenities. Having access to 2,000 acres is a very good thing. We’ve spent a lot of time at Rockcastle over the years, and it’s a great place to spend a weekend … or more. In fact, we’ll be hosting The Hunter Games 2019 there with them this fall (keep an eye out for more details on this soon). The Rockcastle gang is tireless and always pushing forward, so we look forward to seeing the Rockcastle Shooting Center continue to evolve. Visit https://www.rockcastleshootingcenter.com/ and https://www.parkmammothresort.com/ Explore RECOILweb:Handguards from, "Unique-ARs"SSD visits CanadaMuzzle brakes - Strike Industries slow mo comparison testNew Aimpoint Magnifiers NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). Click here to get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to a digital PDF of this target pack!