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Ohio, US make push to develop gun ranges

A lot of folks have been frustrated with the lack of ammunition and reloading components for target shooting and hunting. While the COVID-19 scare and the social unrest of the period certainly exacerbated the problem, these weren’t the sole causes. Many manufacturers were producing product quantities in very similar numbers as they had for many years, with the goal of meeting projected public purchasing while also supplying government contracts.

While estimating sales is an important part of manufacturing, rapidly changing customer demographics caused these sales predictions to be tossed into the trash. A rise in women in the shooting sports and the nation’s evolving concealed-carry laws pushed consumer needs beyond production capabilities. Coupled with shortages in raw materials, delivery bottlenecks, increasing military requirements and government red tape, the results were a perfect storm sweeping every aspect of the industry.

That storm is waning a bit now, and firearms and ammunition are once again making their way to store shelves — almost. While easily finding 12- and 20-gauge skeet, trap and hunting rounds, rimfire and most common pistol and rifle ammunition to cover target and hunting needs, the prices have risen to wincing levels. If you happen to like to shoot 16-gauge shotguns like me, good luck. Companies aren’t producing the less popular calibers and gauges in nearly the numbers they once did, faulting limited manufacturing materials. They’re putting resources into their major sellers.

Though frustrating for shooters, there is a light at the end of that tunnel. Manufacturers have figured out that this isn’t an anomaly and are investing in new tooling and sales models. It will take time, but things will gradually improve. After all, it’s hard to ignore a booming market. A positive result of the big uptick in sales has been to the Pittman-Robertson Act, also known as the Wildlife Restoration Act.

Since 1937, the Act has dedicated permanent funding to wildlife conservation through federal manufacturer taxes on ammunition, firearms, and archery equipment. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annually administers the funds that state wildlife agencies, including Ohio’s Division of Wildlife, uses to acquire habitat, support access for wildlife-related recreation, conduct hunter education and development, perform wildlife research and construct and operate target ranges.

With the increase in need for public shooting areas, states have put a portion of this cash toward range development and improvements. These marksmanship venues help teach people that are new to the activity while providing hunters and target shooters a place to practice, helping to instill responsible and safe gun ownership.

Thanks to this funding, Ohio has developed five supervised rifle/pistol/shotgun/archery ranges at these Wildlife Areas: Deer Creek (Fayette County), Delaware (Delaware Co.), Grand River (Trumbull Co.), Spring Valley (Greene Co.), and Woodberry (Coshocton Co.). Unsupervised rifle and pistol ranges are available at: Indian Creek (Brown Co.), Monroe Lake (Monroe Co.), Tranquility (Adams Co.) and Wolf Creek (Morgan Co.).

There are also 13 unsupervised clay target shotgun ranges and 32 unsupervised archery ranges. In addition, there are four ODNR owned ranges that aren’t covered by the division’s classification system. These are: Dillon Shooting Range (Muskingum/Licking Counties), Fernwood State Forest (Jefferson Co.), Harrison State Forest (Harrison Co.), and Zaleski State Forest (Vinton Co.). The Division of Wildlife also has a cooperative interest in the Cardinal Shooting Center (Morrow Co.) and an additional 13 public archery ranges.

ODNR and the Division of Wildlife continue formulating plans to improve existing ranges while exploring new opportunities to help aspiring and veteran shooters and hunters find places to shoot. Visit wildohio.gov to learn about these public ranges.

Wyoming might be the one state that’s really pushing the range development envelope. Not in the number of ranges, but in its current plans to create a world-class rifle range. Spurred by the fact that Wyoming is already a well-known sportsman’s hunting and fishing destination, their wildlife agency wants to become the latest shooting destination. They hope to draw marksmen and women from across the nation to the newly developing state-of-the-art range. The Nomad Riflemen Team from Jackson is helping to push interest in the range’s design — influenced by the team’s recent incredible achievement.

The Nomads specialize in long-range target shooting and had recently successfully challenged and beat the world record for the longest rifle shot to hit its intended target. At the record-setting trigger pull, the bullet traveled 24 seconds before it struck its metal target. How far away was that bullseye? 23,232 feet, which equates to 7,744 yards or 4.4 miles. Wind, gravity, air density caused by both elevation and humidity, and angle of the sun all play important roles in such an endeavor. Then there is one more thing.

“When a bullet is in flight for that long, you have to take into account the rotational speed of the earth. What you’re shooting at isn’t going to be in the same place it was 24 seconds ago when you pulled the trigger,” explained David Asmuth, president of the Laramie Rifle Range board of directors.

According to the Cowboy State Daily newspaper, a shooting complex task force appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon has begun solidifying plans for the shooting facility, for which the Wyoming Legislature set aside $10 million. The task force also is charged with recommending its location, likely creating a financial boon for whichever community snags the shooting complex since national and international competitions could bring in big money. Besides the expected rifle, pistol, shotgun, and archery designs, a 2,000-yard range is also in the mix to help cater to those interested in extra-long range.

Wyoming isn’t the only state looking to score shooters for advanced competitions. South Dakota wants to build a 400-acre complex near Rapid City in its effort to create a shooter’s paradise. Cost estimates of $10 million was eventually bumped to $20-M. The state’s Game, Fish and Parks Department is working to finance the project through a combination of donations and federal matching funds via the Pittman-Robertson Act.

In Ohio, Camp Perry has hosted rifle and pistol matches for decades, but the state is likely best known for its long and renowned history of trap shooting — with club-owned ranges in nearly every county. The Cardinal Center, 616 Ohio 61, Morengo, is the premier shooting sports facility in Ohio and rapidly becoming one of the largest nationwide. With the help of partners including the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, Cabela’s, the Ohio Division of Wildlife, and the Ohio State Trap Shooting Association, this facility already boasts the third largest trap range in the country.

The Cardinal Center hosts events that are both fun and challenging. The center consists of two sporting courses, 5-stand, 52 trap fields, a 2,400 square foot clubhouse, and enough acreage to host any event. Also available are 400+ RV hookups and 30 park model cabins where guests can enjoy the outdoors and other recreational activities. Check them out on Facebook or by visiting thecardinalcenter.com.

“A good shot must necessarily be a good man since the essence of good marksmanship is self-control and self-control is the essential quality of a good man.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Step outside

•Tomorrow: 3-D Archery Match, mixed animal targets. Field and Stream Bowhunters. 11400 Allen Township 109, Findlay. Registration opens at 8 a.m. Public welcome. Contact: Harold Spence, 419-423-9861.

•Monday: Deadline for Applications for controlled hunts on Ohio public land. Adult, youth, mobility impaired and mentor/apprentice hunts are available. Apply by completing the application process online using Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System or by calling 1-800-703-1928. For information or to apply, visit wildohio.gov

•Thursday: Trap and Skeet Practice, open to the public. 4 p.m. UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.

•Tuesdays on Aug. 1, 8, 15: UCOA Summer 50-Bird Trap and Wobble Trap Shootout, UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay. Event consists of 25 trap targets and 25-birds wobble trap targets, all at 16 yards. Traps open 5 p.m. $20 per round. Public welcome. Contact: Sandy Thomas, sandthm@aol.com

•Aug. 1-31: Applications for the Hancock Park District’s Hunting-with-Permission Lottery. Entries must be received by Aug. 31 at 4:30 p.m. Individuals must register online at HancockParks.com under “Park News.” The season for hunting Litzenberg Memorial Woods will be Nov. 1, 2023 to Jan. 31, 2024. Additional information can be found online at HancockParks.com under “Park News.” You may also contact the park office during business hours, Monday through Friday: 419-425-7275.

•Aug. 6: Application deadline to apply to become an ODNR Natural Resources Officer. An associate degree, completion of an undergraduate core program, or experience in natural resources, fish and/or wildlife management, criminal justice, environmental law enforcement or related fields, or military experience is also required. Learn more and apply at https://ohiodnr.gov/buy-and-apply/support-odnr/jobs/natural-resources-officer-career

•Aug. 6: Seneca County Sporting Clays Shoot, 9:15 a.m., shotgun start at 10 a.m. WR Hunt Club, 5690 County Road 237, Clyde. $100 for 100 clays including 12 or 20 gauge shells, and lunch. Non-shooting guest: $25. Sponsored by Seneca County Pheasants Forever. To register or for more details, call 567-278-1551or visit https://pfqf.myeventscenter.com/event/Seneca-County-Sporting-Clays-Shoot-80140?redir=1

•Aug. 6: Trap Shoot, 1 p.m. Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186. Public welcome.

Source: The Courier



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