Friday, August 02, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Shooting range seeing progress

Leader sports editor

Rapid progress is finally being made on the new Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Shooting Sports Complex being built on Graham Road in Jacksonville. Heavier and more frequent rain than normal caused a delay in the start of project, but the targeted completion date won’t be missed by much.

The new 14-station range, which is the result of joint effort between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, in partnership with the city of Jacksonville, will likely be finished by the middle of September, says Rep. Mark Perry, who helped spearhead the project.

“The original plan was for the first of September, but that’s only a month away,” said Perry. “I think realistically the middle of September is a good target. They could probably make the original one if they worked seven days and the weather stays perfect, but I think a realistic goal is about the middle of the month.”

The first stage of the project was getting the land above the flood plane. With that accomplished, the storehouse for the trap and skeet is complete, while the frame for the 5,100 square-foot clubhouse is erected.

All 14 trap houses are constructed and in their approximate positions, but have not been put in the ground yet. Concrete has been poured for the middle three ranges, which will be the dual-purpose ranges for trap and skeet, and will be the only lighted ranges.

When finished, it will be one of the largest public shooting ranges in the south.

“People that shoot all over the country know this is going up and are excited about it,” Perry said. “It’s top of the line. We have people wanting them now. There are people that go all over for these competitions. These organizations are interested. I guarantee you it will be crowded.”

Members of the Amateur Trap Association and of the ATA’s youth branch called the AIM, for Academics, Integrity and Marksmanship, are involved in weekly meetings about the project at Jacksonville City Hall.

Trap season doesn’t begin until February, but the range will be open to the public shortly after completion.

“We’d like to have it open for people who duck hunt or compete in these events to come and sharpen their skills.”

The Jacksonville range will replace Remington Gun Club as the host site for the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Progam’s high school and junior high competitions, but there is an AYSSB event planned at Jacksonville before that begins.

“One of the first things we’re going to have out here is a benefit tournament for the AYSSB and the Game and Fish Green Wing program.” Perry said.

The range will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and closed Monday and Tuesday.