In the Spring of 2013, one of my best friends Ted and I decided to try out prairie dog shooting.  I had only lived in Colorado for about a year at that point and knew that public-land shooting wouldn’t start until June.  We called around to a few outfitters we found on the internet, and Ted wound up chatting with a guy named Heck Phillips who guided in south-eastern Colorado in a little town called Holly.  I remember he described Heck as an old cowboy who did his best to convince us not to come!  Turns out the region was in a multi-year drought and he told us that the shooting was going to be terrible.  In fact he had been canceling his other regular clients that year. “I’ve got a reputation, fellas,” he said.  We could immediately sense that he was a man who lived by an old fashioned integrity not often found these days.

 

Heck Phillips in the Liars Lounge
Heck Phillips in the Liars Lounge

Shooting on the Heck Phillips shooting system

Shooting on the Heck Phillips shooting system

The thing about Ted and me is that we’ve been hunting together for years.  We value the time in the field as much as, if not more than, the result of the hunt.  So despite Heck’s attempts to dissuade us, we convinced him to guide us anyway.  Ted and I promised that we’d have a blast regardless of the shooting (and that we wouldn’t sully his outstanding reputation!!)  We brought out our AR-15’s, bi-pods, shooting mats and were ready for some fun!  Heck brought some of his own tables and bench rests into the field as well and encouraged us to try them out. Needless to say, Heck’s equipment worked much better for the task at hand. Shooting on prairie dogs is in some ways is more difficult than most other hunting.  It is a special kind of bench shooting where you shoot at targets that constantly vary in terms of range and direction.  That day we found it’s most enjoyable when using equipment that can easily and quickly adjust from one target to the next.

Later that evening, we were shooting the bull at the “Liars Lounge” as Heck affectionately calls it.  I can best describe the Liars Lounge as the mother of all man-caves. Heck started telling us all about growing up in Holly.  He earned his place as ranch boss by working hard and doing whatever needed to be done, including the jobs nobody else would do. He spent what little free time he had hunting and shooting prairie dogs. Most important, he met his wife Marilyn.  In the early 1980’s Heck started developing his shooting equipment, especially his bench rest and a shooting table. He would spend the next 30 years refining them, making just enough to sell to people he guided.  Needless to say, Ted and I each jumped at the opportunity to buy one.  We also talked with Heck about sharing the genius of his products more broadly by getting them manufactured and making them more widely available.

The evolution of the Heck Phillips Bench Rest
The evolution of the Heck Phillips Bench Rest
Heck, Ted and me at the Liars Lounge
Heck, Ted and me at the Liars Lounge

Heck, Ted and I formed Phillips Engineering in 2013 and have been working to commercialize Heck’s products to make them available to the world!  We are proud to manufacture our products here in the U.S.A.  Ted and I can’t say enough about our respect for Heck and the wisdom he provides us as we bounce ideas off him.   We won’t ever release a product without Heck’s assent, and he helps us validate product designs as we refine his inventions for commercial manufacturing. After all, we promised years ago that we wouldn’t sully his outstanding reputation!

For those of you who have hunted with Heck, and especially if you’ve spent time jaw-jacking in the Liar’s Lounge, you know his his integrity, warmth, and his outrageous sense of humor.  For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, feel free to click over to join us in the Liars Lounge.

And for those of you who wish to experience the genius of his American Made products, we know you won’t regret investing in the last shooting table and bench rest you will need to buy.

Thanks Heck!