Tribune-Courier General Manager
A firing range in Marshall County is one step closer to reality after last week’s fiscal court meeting.
Members of the court agreed to lease land on the south end of the county landfill to the Marshall County Rifle and Pistol Club for the construction of an NRA-compliant firing range.
Efforts to construct the range are being spearheaded by Mike Van Steenbergen, who first approached Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars two years ago about assisting with the project which was in the discussion phase.
Van Steenbergen has extensive military training in marksmanship, having served in the U.S. Army’s Canal Zone Marksmanship Unit in 1973 and since having competed in numerous Army shooting matches including five World Wide Army Shooting Matches in Fort Benning, Ga.
Several residents living along Sunshine Acres Road, just behind the property where the range is planned have expressed concerns about the range being so close to their property.
Their concerns stem from an incident in the late 1990’s when the county operated a practice range in the same general vicinity.
Two stray bullets from a Calvert City Police officer’s weapon went through the front window and onto the roof of a house trailer owned by Marty Alexander. No one was injured in the incident, but Alexander and his wife were awarded a settlement from a lawsuit filed in the case.
County Judge Mike Miller said at the time the county was advised to shut the range down and did.
He said if the range is properly constructed, residents should not fear a repeat of problems in the past.
“It’s my understanding that this thing meets or exceeds NRA standards. Safety has been a major concern. The fiscal court could also choose to impose further standards if we feel it’s necessary,” said Miller.
Van Steenbergen noted the range will be constructed with safety being a major concern. A 15-foot tall center berm will separate the pistol and the rifle range, with a 30 foot base extending past the rifle firing line. He said the NRA requirement is only eight to 10-feet.
He also said a bullet-containment wall of sand will be built to prevent accidents caused by early-round firing.
Van Steenbergen estimates the cost to construct the range, which will include both a pistol and a rifle shooting area, will be between $85,000 to $100,000. Construction costs will be supported by membership fees paid to the club which is being formed as a private, non-profit entity.
County Judge Executive Mike Miller indicated the Marshall County Road Department will assist with the building of safety berms around the range, but beyond that there is no cost to county taxpayers to construct or support the facility. Liability coverage will be the responsibility of the club.
Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars said his deputies will be permitted to use the facility for training, saving them a trip to Calloway County.
The Calvert City Police Department also goes out of the county to train. Chief David Ellliott said his officers have for several years used the practice range at The Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville. He said he believes the local availability of a practice range will be something his officers will use as well.
“I see a great deal of use from law enforcement, as well as the public,” said Byars. “I believe this will easily sustain itself with club memberships. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see 600 plus people join.”
Byars praised Van Steenbergen for his efforts in moving the planning for the firing range forward saying, “Mike has put a lot of effort into researching this and thanks to his work it will soon be a reality for us.”
Van Steenbergen said he also hopes to be able to host competition shooting once the facility is complete.
Marshall County Judge Executive Mike Miller cautioned the firing range will likely not be complete until sometime mid-2014.
“We are looking at several months, maybe a year to get this completely safe,” said Miller. “I don’t want anyone to think we can start shooting tomorrow.”
A series of meetings have been planned to provide information to potential members of the Marshall County Rifle and Pistol Club. Anyone interested in more information is invited to attend one of the meetings at the pavilion near the tennis courts in Mike Miller Park in Draffenville on the following dates:
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.