By Liv stecker
“Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight, and I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.” - Army Ranger Creed
Dan Litzenberger grew up in Spokane, Washington with a family that was not into guns. Even though his grandfather had fought in World War II and he had an uncle in the Coast Guard, guns and the military were not part of the family dynamic through his childhood. But when he graduated from high school in 2007, Litzenberger enlisted in the Army right away.
Going through basic, one of Litzenberger’s drill sergeants told him he should consider a ranger contract. At first Litzenberger laughed it off, but after thinking about it, decided he would give it a try. “I had always thought special operations guys like ranger and Navy SEALS were like super humans.” He laughs, relating that it took some persuading to convince him that he had the potential for it.
He was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Regiment and sent to Fort Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, where he underwent ranger training. “You were physically and mentally tested to limits you didn’t think you could go to,” Litzenberger says about Ranger training, “but you can’t quit, and there is no problem you can’t solve.” Part of Ranger training included SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) School where Rangers are trained to withstand torture and avoid capture in the field.
After ranger training he was assigned to one of the three SOF (special operations forces) units, tasked with the elimination of high value targets and terrorist cell interruption. Operating in 2 man attachments to ranger platoons, snipers learn to adapt and work in a constantly changing dynamic. “We learned to cut our own path to success,” says Kyle Kowalski, one of Litzenberger’s closest friends and a fellow ranger who went through training with him. Rangers are trained to think outside the box and adapt and overcome any obstacle to their mission.
Litzenberger served 6 deployments, but it wasn’t until 2010 when he watched an Army Ranger sniper in action and decided he wanted to join the sniper section. “I fell in love with learning the science and math behind it - it’s kind of like an art form.” Dan says of long range target shooting. After two sniper deployments, Litzenberger was medically retired from the rangers in 2016, leaving the service with an Army Commendation Medal with Valor for his performance during the Global War on Terror. “It wasn’t because I was a sniper that always had success,” Litzenberger says of his time overseas, but every missed target became an opportunity to learn and grow as a sniper and as a soldier.
Litzenberger has brought that passion for learning and teaching back to civilian life at Bull Hill Training Ranch along with Kowalski, where their vision for training active duty military and law enforcement snipers as well as civilian long range shooters is unfolding. A lack of live training opportunities on moving targets is one of the drawbacks to traditional military sniper schools. One of Litzenberger’s missions is to provide a place where moving targets as well as a changing environment and challenging terrain provide a well rounded training facility for long range shooters of all types. The mountains north of Kettle Falls never fail to disappoint in terrain and weather changes, so all that was left for Litzenberger was the moving targets and a rapidly growing facility where service members, veterans and civilians are able to congregate and train.
For Litzenberger, getting past the traditional training and instruction methods for long range target shooting is the goal. “There is more than one way to do it,” he says, and he enjoys the challenge of proving out new approaches to training. The vision of Bull Hill Training Ranch as Litzenberger sees it is to add to the training spectrum of long range shooting. “It’s about creating a place where experts can come together to train in real terrain and build a toolbox.” He says, intent on working with the best of the best to discover new ways to achieve success as active duty snipers, LEOs, vets and civilians.
In addition to a training ground, Litzenberger also hopes that Bull Hill Training Ranch will eventually become a sanctuary for veterans to come and experience the “best kept secret in the Northwest” that is the rugged landscape of along the upper Columbia River. Along with shooting competitions, recreational outlets including horseback riding, hiking, fishing on the river and guided hunts will be part of the outdoor therapy available to vets and their families in the future. Already this vision is becoming a reality as several local veterans from around the area will be coming to participate in the second annual Historical Shoot Out this weekend at Bull Hill Training Ranch, will fully paid sponsorships contributed by local and national businesses and individuals.
If you are interested in checking out what is going on, including courses currently offered at the Training Ranch, check out their website, Facebook page Bull Hill Training Ranch, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org