Menomonie Public Shooting Range Projects
The Menomonie Rifle and Pistol Club (MR&P) has, for the last 30+ years partnered with Dunn County’s facilities to operate and maintain the Menomonie Public Shooting Range. Over the years, this partnership has evolved and in the last several years, due to budget cuts, the range is no longer funded by the County nor is any county equipment or labor supplied to maintain the range. The county does still contract out the garbage pickup and pumping the septic once a year. The club now performs all operation and maintenance to include snow removal, grass cutting, equipment maintenance, repairs, improvements, and staffing. In fact, the Club had to purchase the equipment now used at the range in order to perform those tasks. For many years, the only money used to maintain and improve the range was acquired from user donations, grants, or private donations. The club keeps a separate bank account for the range donations and expenses. Neither the club nor any of its members receive any form of compensation from this account.
There is a 4 station dedicated pistol area that has movable target stands, which can be positioned from 5 to 13 yards. All 4 stations are handicapped accessible and have clear Plexiglas dividers between them to control shell cases from interfering with other shooters. Each station has a rubber coated bench to protect firearms.
There are 10 rifle benches for the 25-100 yard area. 8 of the benches have a left and right side and adjustable seat. During peak times, both the left and right sides can be used simultaneously. The other 2 benches are single benches for wheelchair access.
The range also includes 4 firing points (1 which is handicapped accessible) for 200 shooting. These are the same makeup as the 25-100 benches.
Currently, there is 1 bench with 3 firing positions for 300 yards. Again, it is a shared bench as in the 25-100, but also includes a handicapped accessiblecenter portion. The path to it is notADA friendly. One of the projects on our 2021list is to create an ADA accessible path which will accommodate a vehicle as well.
In 2018, at the request of the Menomonie High School Trap team, and with their help, we built a 16 yard, 5 station regulation trap range. The club aquired a target thrower and 5 voice activation units through grants and donations. The trap range is operational and ADA accessible now, but needs more landscaping to make it ADA accessible year round.
The Rifle and Pistol club has 30 trained Range Safety Officers (RSO) who ensure the range is operated safely for our clients. Historically, those RSOs volunteer to keep the range open over 1000 hours per year to provide our over 2000 annual visitors a safe shooting environment. In 2020, club volunteers worked over 1900 hours suprevising and over 800 hours completing maintenance and range improvements.
The club also hosts several events throughout the year. These include women and youth events and Hunter Safety Courses. The Menomonie High School Trap Team practices at this facility every Wednesday night from March through October. During those practices, the trap range is also open to the public.
Although we rely primarily on donations from clients using the range, the Menomonie Public Shooting Range is a public park and therefore, there is no required fee. We do suggest a donation of $5.00 per client In 2017, the average donation per user was $1.39. In 2018 about $2.50. Electricity runs about $1300.00 per year, and maintenance on target stands and buildings runs over $800.00 per year. Office and cleaning supplies add another $250.00. Finally equipment fuel and maintenance is over $600.00. Last year, in order to build a new maintenance shed so equipment could be repaired in the winter; the club borrowed $5000.00 to the range at no interest, to be paid back when the range fund has enough money to be self-sustaining.
Here is a breakdown of client use, and range hours.
We average about $2.50 from each client or the same for each hour the range is open.
Over the years, the two side berms have “flattened” causing the width of the 200-300 yard target area to decrease in size. That in itself is not the concern. The concern is that a Range safety officer (RSO) must be positioned towards the north end of the range to see clients when they go downrange to set, check, or retrieve their targets; resulting in the RSO positioning themselves such that they cannot immediately address safety issues at the pistol or the south end of the 100 yard areas. To alleviate this, in 2020, we cut the south berm by the 200-300 yard area back on an angle allowing the RSO to remain in the center of the pistol/ rifle area and still see all downrange activity. In addition, the flattening of the north by the 200-300 yard area has limited the ability of 300 yard shooters to use the rightmost target. This could result in crossfire shooting when there are both the 200 and 300 yard shooting using the range at the same time. Our control for this was to widen the shooting area on the north side by 6 feet. Both of these controls do not affect the current height of the safety berms.
In 2019, we drilled a well and in 2020, we installed a pressure tank and ran water just outside of the lavatory building. The reasoning is that we host several events involving youths in addition to having youths come to shoot on a regular basis. Shooting of course, involves handling ammunition which contains lead. While we do have hand sanitizer and towels located near the rest facility, youths are notorious for not washing hands well. Running water and regular soap is more effective in washing the lead contaminates from their hands and also provides easy access to drinking water to alleviate the possibility of dehydration during our events. The well was installed near an outbuilding that serves as the pump house. Power comes from the main box located near the entrance to the 300 yard shooting bench about 115 yards away.
As our cliental has changed in the last few years, we are seeing more people with disabilities using the range. In the past, we have had few, if any, requiring accommodations to use the 300 yard benches. With the increase in the sport of long range shooting, this has changed. To be proactive in the needs of all our clients, in 2018 we added 2 cement pads to provide better access to the rifle and pistol areas for those with mobility handicaps. In 2019 we rebuilt the 300 yard benches making them more ADA accessible. To further respond to these needs, we intend to level and gravel the path to the 300 yard area and widen it to accept a vehicle. This would involve leveling about 70 feet of the path and widening it to about 12 feet. We also would like to add cement from the gravel area to the shooting benches to provide wheelchair access.
The second ADA project involves the trap range. Currently, ADA clients can access the range from a gravel road put in years ago. However, in the construction of the trap range, we ran out of time and money to make the shootings positions accessible. In the spring and after heavy rains, part of the area from the old roadway to the firing positions may become muddy making it wheelchair inaccessible. We would like to finish the project by landscaping and adding gravel in the area up to the shooting positions so wheelchairs have access year round.
Cutting through the range east of the range house and behind the firing lines runs a DNR waterway. Over the years, this waterway has filled in and the result is that water does flow through the range as it did years ago. To restore the ditch to its original grade, we intend to re-grade the waterway the entire lengrth it runs through the firing area. We have already surveyed the waterway and set markers for depth and grade, but ran out of time in 2020.
In 2017, we started a recycle program at the range. To date, the results have been good, but there is room for improvement. in 2021, we intend to implement addtional recycling measures.
We also currently monitor the range to insure no lead is introduced into the ground water.
One last point, the pistol berm is comprised of sand and is gravity fed from the attic area. To fill the berm, we are currently relegated to shoveling up there by hand. This is a several times a year maintenance item. Future plans are to modify/repair the current 4 position pistol berm and expand it to 6 positions.
Our clients have changed and the way they use the range has changed. In order to provide the people of the county the best and safest possible shooting experience, we feel continuos improvements are necessary. We could put these projects out for bids, and will have to for some aspects, but we also feel the need to defray these and future costs by doing as much of the work as we can. The club purchased a new mid-size tractor capable of mowing,snowblowing, and a bucket and forks attachments. This purchase lowered the cost of several projects in 2019. And together with the new maintenance garage, we are able to work on more projects and perofrm maintenance year round. We still have several large projects to complete to align the range at our clients useage. Donations are welcome either for the range or the club. Donations can be specified for a particular project or allocated to the general fund. Please contact Duke Holmberg at email@example.com or (715) 928-0446.