The NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico has long been established as one of the premier shooting locations within the United States. With everything from skeet, trap ranges to thousand yard and silhouette ranges, the center is truly an all encompassing location for anything shooting related. I honestly wish the center took more of center stage within the training and sporting industries because outside of a few select communities, few shooters have even heard of it.
Within the Visitor’s Center at the front gate, NRA WC opened up the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest to the public in 2008. Although not comparable to some of the larger firearms museums in the country such as the Cody Firearms Museum, NRA Firearms Museum in Virginia, or the Springfield Armory Museum in Massachusets, the Frank Brownell Museum is certainly worthy of a stop if you are traveling through north eastern New Mexico, about two hours south of Colorado Springs, and within three hours of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Admission is completely free, and you get to take a look at some real rarities of small arms history and development, especially in the U.S. context. And as the title suggests, not only is the center home to a world class museum but is also home to an ammunition collection and a research library.
Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest
The museum is organized through various themed displayed set on tables with their descriptions set above the glass cases showing the various firearms. Each case is set on a certain element of history, one is about Jeff Cooper, another about engraved firearms, and yet another just on competition pieces.
Robert G. Rowe Ammunition Collection
I honestly haven’t seen this much diversity in cartridges ever before in my life. Something like six shelves per section with three sections aligned together, packed from midway to top with drawers upon drawers of neatly organized cartridges underneath glass displays, differentiated by country of origin. The third section was nothing but different shotgun shells of various makes and manufacture, really focusing on the different companies that produced them, going back almost a century.
Bud and Willa Eyman Research Library
Unlike other historical fields, it really is too bad that small arms suffer from the lack of dedicated research facilities. They exist in places like the National Firearms Centre in Leeds, but there isn’t really anything dedicated to small arms historians that is completely accessible to the public (similar to the National Archives). The Research Library at NRA WC is an excellent start in that direction. However, I would say it certainly qualifies more as a library than a research center due to the lack of primary source documents and material. From the description on the Visitor’s Center-
The NRA Whittington Center is a center of education through our Bud and Willa Eyman Research Library which is dedicated to the Second Amendment, gunsmithing, hunting, self defense, and firearms history. Located next to the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest, the library plays an important role in educating the public about the importance of the Second Amendment to our shooting freedoms, our hunting freedoms, and indeed, all our freedoms afforded us in the Bill of Rights. The Library has a spectacular collection of books on everything you want to know about firearms and the Second Amendment in general, and is a magnificent resource for history buffs, researchers, and anyone interested in the shooting sports.
And if nothing else, come for the view!