State shutting down local shooting range

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Rodman, May 13, 2009.

  1. Rodman

    Rodman New Member

    Feb 12, 2009
    State targets shooting range
    By Jenni Vincent / Journal staff writer POSTED: May 13, 2009 Save | Print | Email | Read comments | Post a comment
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    Article Photos
    State Department of Natural Resources officials on Tuesday confirmed plans to shut down the public shooting range at Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area, a 26-year-old facility that’s said to have a design flaw. Getting in some last-minute practice with a Bushmaster AR15, which is a semi-automatic .223-caliber rifle, are Phil McIntosh, left, Matt Keplinger and Robert McDonald. (Journal photo by Jenni Vincent)

    MARTINSBURG -Matt Keplinger couldn't believe it when he heard that the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area's public shooting range was set to close.

    Hunting is a family tradition for Keplinger, who got the news when he and his young daughter were spending some "quality, together time" at the rural shooting range last Friday.

    After spending some time tracking down state Department of Natural Resources officials, Keplinger was convinced that the word he'd received from a friend was true and the range's closing was imminent.

    State confirmation that the range has a "design flaw" hasn't made Keplinger feel any better because he now fears the range won't return once it is closed.

    Sleepy Creek's wildlife manager Larry Heinz said Tuesday that the shooting range will close soon, and remain closed "until further notice," primarily because its design flaw has resulted in a safety issue.

    "There is a building, a cabin really, in direct line of the range that is full of holes - it even has bullet holes in the roof, which the landowner reported and we were able to verify when we went and looked at it," Heinz said.

    "Actually, the last time there were even two bullets laying on the bed," he said, recalling a visit to the cabin just a few weeks ago.

    Although the range is 26 years old, this situation isn't new. There were "reports all along that there were bullets falling in that area," Heinz said.

    Remedial efforts at the range, such as adding more bunkers, haven't solved the problem, he said.

    "We did that hoping people would start to place their targets properly, directly in front of and at the base of the bunker, but that's had limited success. People continue to put their targets willy-nilly, some of them would put their targets on top of the bunker," Heinz said.

    "At the same time, we started having a lot of semi-automatic use and shooting," he said.

    Shooting rapidly with that type of gun can cause the shooter to "tilt back" and cause him to shoot higher, Heinz said.

    "But this closing is not anything anti-gun, it is a matter of safety," he said.

    Engineering will be necessary to determine if a solution is possible at the current site or if a new spot will have to be found for the range, Heinz said.

    An exact closing date hasn't been determined. However, he said it will be soon.

    Part of his morning was devoted to preparing the site where a new gate will be placed to stop people from entering the shooting range when it closes.

    Anyone found shooting there after it closes can be given a ticket, he said.

    Closing the range will be an inconvenience for many, said Heinz, who estimated that thousands use it on an annual basis.

    "As a matter of fact, several hundred use it on an average weekend," he said.

    Keplinger, who listened as Heinz was explaining the situation, said he would prefer for the present range to be reopened once any problems are solved.

    "I want that with all of my being," Keplinger said with a sigh.

    Fellow gun enthusiast Robert McDonald, who was also at the range Tuesday and spoke with Heinz, agreed that the situation is disappointing.

    The planned closing means that McDonald, who goes there from Hagerstown, will have to find another shooting range to use. That won't be easy, he said.

    "This really sucks for me, and it is disappointing, mostly because this is probably due to the actions of a few people who have ruined things for the rest of us. It's a shame," McDonald said.

    "I wish there was a way to work things out, but once it is shut down, I really don't see that happening - especially with the way the economy is now," he said. "The state isn't going to go to a whole lot more expense here - they are probably just going to shut it down and keep it shut down."

    Charles Town resident Phil McIntosh, who has been using the range for two years, said he wants it to remain open because "there are a lot of good sportsmen and recreational shooters who come here to relax."

    He also said he understood that there had been some people using AK-47s at the range to shoot clay pigeons.

    That's a problem because those targets should be "shot with a shotgun and not with a rifle, which can carry a lot further," McIntosh said.

    "There's only a problem with a few, however. Probably 98 percent of the people that have been out here while I am shooting are good people," he said. "They all watch each other and they do what they are supposed to do. So it may be that a few people have caused a problem for the majority."

    Before any permanent decisions are made, McIntosh said he would like to see a possible group of concerned shooters meet with DNR officials to discuss the range's future.

    It might also be a possibility to "deputize citizens" to help oversee the facility to make sure its rules are being observed, McIntosh said.

    "Shutting this down will be a very sad thing. It will be devastating for many people," he said.

    - Staff writer Jenni Vincent can be reached at (304) 263-3381, ext. 138, or
  2. mrkirker

    mrkirker New Member

    Jul 13, 2007
    Sound like they kinda 'shot themselves in the foot'! (ducking - quickly!)

  3. ampaterry

    ampaterry *TFF Admin Staff Chaplain* Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2008
    West Tennessee
    Targets on TOP of bunkers?
    Cabin shot full of holes?

    A few idiots certainly supply the anti-gunners with plenty of ammunition, don't they?
  4. artabr

    artabr New Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    New Iberia, Louisiana
    That sucks.
    We had something similar happen at our range but it was political more than safety related.
    A little thug gang want-to-be got himself shot in a drug deal. He clamed the bullet came from our range.
    This story was on reported on 3 TV stations and 2 newspapers. The local "community activist" (it's ironic that community follows communist in the dictionary) got involved.
    Then someone spray painted KKK on all 30 of our concrete benches. I made the police report.
    No hate crime here. :mad:
    No news reports either. :mad:

    The thug later makes the confession that he had been shot in a drug deal.
    This is ignored by all of the previously mentioned press other than one newspaper. The story retraction was buried in the paper while the reports of the "shooting" had made the top of the front page in bold letters. :mad:

    Oh, I forgot to mention, the spot where the thug had been shot was at a 90° angle to the direction that the range faced and was about a mile away.
    He was shot with a .380. :rolleyes:
    Can anyone say "magic bullet".

    We were located on land that was leased to us by the railroad (Union Pacific I think). The city used extortion to force the railroad to cancel our lease. :mad:

    This range had been in operation for over 50 years and was the location of the 3rd highest ranked Bench Rest match in the country.

    Last edited: May 13, 2009
  5. mrkirker

    mrkirker New Member

    Jul 13, 2007
    The old "1% Factor", strikes again!
  6. pickenup

    pickenup Active Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Colorado Rocky Mountains
    Another one bites the dust. :(