Mitchell City Council moves forward with plan to build firing range as local gun enthusiasts say demand is strong – Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — Mitchell is nearing construction of a public-access shooting range, something local gun enthusiasts say would be “used by a lot of people.”

Mitchell City Council on Monday approved an agreement that will have a team of engineers evaluate two potential sites where city guides have identified ideal locations for the proposed shooting range.

Public Works Director Joe Schroeder said the rifle range layout would aim to provide 100- and 200-yard ranges and 500- and 1,000-yard ranges, as well as two pistol bays.

Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson revealed the two locations where the city plans to build the shooting range, namely the northwest portion of the former Kelley property west of Lake Mitchell and an area near the city landfill on the southern edge of Mitchell .

Is there any demand as the city moves forward with its plan to build an outdoor shooting range? Chuck Oster, a Mitchell resident who was a former director of a local rifle club, claimed that there is a strong demand for a shooting range open to the public in Mitchell.

“The only thing I can tell you is that when I was secretary (of the rifle club), we ended up sending out 150 newsletters a month to people who were paying to shoot out there. I’m basically telling you that the interest is there,” Oster said. “I’m just really excited about the idea that we might have a place to go.”

The Mitchell area used to have a members’ shooting range, but it closed in 2007, Oster said.

The city would approach South Dakota, Game, Fish and Parks to help fund construction of the outdoor firing range if the project goes through. Arden Petersen, an official with GF&P, provided insight into how GF&P has helped fund shooting ranges in other cities of a similar size to Watertown.

“It’s been used very well and it’s been a good thing for the city of Watertown,” Petersen said of the recently built Watertown shooting range. “I think it would really fit into a niche here in Mitchell. People are looking for a place to go out and shoot. Whether it’s seeing their gun to hunt deer or just going out to shoot paper.”

Petersen reiterated the growing demand for shooting ranges, which he says has recently become a national trend.

In response to the council’s questions about an approximate price for such a project, Petersen said that Watertown’s shooting range cost about $700,000. However, he said the bids were well below the asking price of around $700,000.

According to Petersen, GF&P typically finances around 75% of the project, with the municipalities covering the remaining 25%.

“It always depends on what resources we have. There is a nationwide competition for the use of these funds. I can say that this is a project that our agency would consider very favorable,” added Petersen.

Based on Petersen’s explanation of the shooting ranges chasing Mitchell’s, the facility requires little maintenance and staffing compared to other city facilities. He said the Watertown shooting range is being monitored with the help of surveillance cameras and occasional staff performing routine maintenance.

“I don’t think they have anyone out there all the time. It’s pretty well patrolled by the folks out there. They have a toilet and trash cans out there, and I can tell you it’s extremely clean,” he said of Watertown’s shooting range, which is open to the public and charges no usage fee.

Everson said the Department of Parks and Recreation will be tasked with overseeing Mitchell’s shooting range.

The city hired Civil Design Inc. to evaluate the layout of the potential shooting range locations. The engineer’s appraisal work is estimated at $11,000 and provides a preliminary cost estimate for the project.

Of the two locations, Everson said the former Kelley property could offer more space and make room for longer ranges.