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Shooting range construction set to begin
Gun enthusiasts should rejoice as three years of planning pays off Monday when work begins on the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Range, expected to open by the end of October.
A joint project between El Paso County and Fort Carson, the public facility will be operated by military personnel.
“It’s a win-win for all of us,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Fort Carson’s commander. “Everybody gets to use it. It’ll be the best deal in town.”
The shooting range is badly needed, said county commissioner chairwoman Amy Lathen.
“The public will greatly benefit from this, as will our Sheriff’s Office,” Lathen said. “Deputies will have a quality place to practice.”
Off-duty Fort Carson personnel will be able to shoot their personal weapons at the range, which will be located on Fort Carson property just outside the post’s Gate 20 at I-25 Exit 32.
Profits from the range will go to Fort Carson to support soldiers and their families.
“We estimate it will generate millions,” said Imad Karaki, El Paso County Director of Support Services. “It’ll make a huge impact in helping our soldiers.”
Steave Barness is Chief of the Recreation division of the Fort Carson’s Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation program. He worked closely with Karaki for three years on the project. Barness said it took about a year to gain approval from the Secretary of the Army — much less time than normal.
“That speaks to the importance of the project,” Barness said. “MWR and the Army have never had a partnership like this. There were times when we believed this project was dead. This project touched at least 24 different lawyers.
“This is not only fun and exciting for the Fort Carson team but great for the community. It’s talked about all the time in places I go. It’s the biggest topic with sportsmen in Colorado Springs. It has been since the partnership was announced a year ago.”
Construction will occur in three phases. The first will include improving the access road to the facility and building six shooting ranges — three for pistols and three for rifles — with a total of 90 shooting positions. Firearms will be rented at the range and ammunition sold. A double-wide trailer will serve as the office for registration.
The second phase will add a 10,000-square foot building with a restaurant, gift shop, lockers and classrooms for instruction in gun safety and usage.
“A big piece of phase two is getting utilities out there,” Barness said.
The third phase will add six shotgun ranges for trap and skeet.
“For our law enforcement community, this is a tremendous additional asset,” said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. “But this will benefit a large part of our community, not just law enforcement.”
No taxpayer money is being used to build the range, which will cost $650,000 for phase one, Karaki said. The county started with $239,000 from sale of a house located in one of its parks, got $200,000 from the Division of Wildlife — licensing fees from hunters and fishermen, plus entrance fees to state parks — and $200,000 from the Sheriff’s Office, from its Immigration and Customs Service funds. The National Rifle Association kicked in $25,000, and the National Forest Service will contribute construction goods including fencing, poles, culverts and parking lot materials.
The county will set up a nonprofit called the Soldiers Friend Foundation to raise money for the next two phases of the range. A website will be created to handle donations.
Barness said daily ($8-$10) and annual ($100-$150) passes will be available.
“We’ll teach all levels of handgun use and safety,” Barness said. “We’ll have NRA-certified instructors contracted through FMWR. This will be a place for families to enjoy shooting sports.”
Contact Bob Stephens: 636-0276 Twitter @bobgstephens
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