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Setting up new range, ideas


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So the SD Game and Fish along with a very generous individual is in the process of buying 400 acres to set up a first class shooting complex. I was contacted to see what Cowboy Action Shooting needs would be. I'm sure others have set ranges from scratch. I'd really appreciate some info.

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Wow!  What a fantastic opportunity.  You might want to reach out to the Kaskaskia Cowboys in Illinois.  It's my understanding that they went through a similar process at Sparta.  If the option exists, you want 10 to 12 individual bays so you can allow down range movement on all stages.  And if the space allows, think big on your stage designs.  You might want to look at the stages for Land Run.

 

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Drive down to Grand Island NE to the Hornady (Heartland) park.  Great layout. Very open plan.  Cowboy, pistol/long range, skeet/trap,  nice place.  If I had unlimited resources to land and dirt I would love to have six bays on one side and six bays on the other and build the town with stores , shops, barber shops, jails, hotels to get that old west town appeal.  Lots of dollars to move dirt.  But Gov. Noem may do it just to thumb her nose at the antis.  Who knows the city of Grand Island May even give you a copy of the plans they used to build the park.

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I've done it a couple of times. If I had to give just one piece of advice, it would be to go for quality rather than quantity. Two stages of quality targets are better than four stages of junk. Too many new clubs feel that they must have more stages so they skimp and shoot at junk. As your club builds, you can add a quality target as funds come available. You will never regret having good targets.

 

Snakebite 

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If at all possible, go for individual bays with side berms.  You can have down range movement and if you have a target failure, you don't have to shut the whole range down.  Having a common firing line creates all kinds of problems. 

 

Permanent building props can add a lot of atmosphere to a stage but they can also limit stage design and can be hard for spotters to see.  The shooter and the TO can get in each other's way on a poorly designed stage building.

 

+1 to the quality targets.  It'll cost you roughly $1,000 per stage for steel.  You'll also need a place to store it and a way to haul it.

 

There are a lot of ongoing expenses operating a Cowboy match.  Make sure all the parties involved understand how the money is going to be handled,  owned and spent.  Keep good financial records and have an open book accounting with the people in charge.

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Individual bays are nice. If you can't swing that then berms every other stage. Don't skimp on spacing between stages.

 

Have the bays at least 50 yards deep. 100 is even better. 

 

Which way do the prevailing winds blow? Ideally you want them at your back blowing down range. Avoid having a setup where the prevailing winds are in your face.

 

Where is the sun?

 

Priortize. 

1. Real estate. ( bays and layout)

2. At least two stages of quality targets

3 Props. Complete buildings are nice at first but they do have drawbacks. Unless very large they are confining.  Without a lot of ventilation they will be hot in the summer. They are expensive to build. Maintaining them is just as expensive. 

False fronts may not look as cool but they are a lot more versatile. Less expensive to build, maintenance costs are less. With a nice wide roof you can have shade, a breeze and be able to get out of the rain.

 

Is electricity available?  If not can you wire back to a central point for a generator? One 15 amp duplex outlet per stage lets you run a fan or two.

 

A large central club house that all the clubs can share. A large covered pavilion where 100+ people can sit comfortably.

 

Bathrooms. Is potable water available? Primitive camp ground style bathrooms that have to be pumped out 2 or 3 times a year are way better and a lot less expensive than port-a-potties. 

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8 hours ago, Boulder Canyon Bob# 32052L said:

So the SD Game and Fish along with a very generous individual is in the process of buying 400 acres to set up a first class shooting complex. I was contacted to see what Cowboy Action Shooting needs would be. I'm sure others have set ranges from scratch. I'd really appreciate some info.

  Bob pm me when you have time and we can go over some things.    Before the owner died I was setting one up in mn

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A LOT depends on the amount of space AND the amount of $$ available.

If you have space, separate bays (several) for general stages and separate bays for side matches are great.

If space is limited, you may consider a common firing line. Of course, most don't like this but you have to work with what you have.

If the terrain is hilly, be considerate of folks having to walk any distance.

If space and $$ were not a factor, I'd do a combination of fixed facades and open bays, all separated by berms.

Nice to get some property for a range, wish we had more.

Best of luck!

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Make sure that the SASS club and the property owner (even if they are a friend and/or a SASS Club member) has their agreement in WRITING!   Shame to have you build up a club and SASS range just to be told, "Thank you, goodbye" by the Property Owner.

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Target security.  If non- CAS shooters will be using the range, find a way to keep them from shooting at those pretty new cowboy targets.  Otherwise you will quickly get perforated, dented junk targets.

 

Lots of restroom facilities within short walking distance of the cowboy lanes for us old farts.

 

 

 

 

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Try to have enough parking and onsite camping to host a weekend event.  Electric power to campsites makes the range attractive to those who want to shoot a bigger match.  No camping at all (even dry camping) detracts from the range.

 

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Bob, next time you are coming through Grand Island, let me know and I can arrange a behind the scenes tour of HPSP to show you everything, along with what we use in each building for. There are a lot of things you can't see just as a shooter that I can give you access to

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Thanks, for all the great ideas. It's really early in the process and I'd like to be able to have some good input. From what I'm told so far the complex will provide targets, have a range master and security. There will be one bay out to 1000 yds. The plan is to be able to hold national events. I plan on flying home to SD to be part of the discussions and have enlisted a very seasoned SASS shooter to be involved as well as our VP who is a former Chairman of the Meade Co Commission and another cowboy who has lots of experience in construction and lots of ties to the community. I hope it comes to fruition. The Fish and Game Dept doesn't have the best reputation for getting things done in the most efficient manner, but supposedly our Governor is onboard and she seems to be able to get things done and you got to love a Governor who was videoed playing with a flame thrower and asking if it was too late to ask for one for Christmas, plus the individual who is pushing it has lots of experience with million dollar projects. 

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Stop by Whittington Center in Raton to see a facility designed to host national events.  There are two, full-hookup campgrounds and cabins too.  I stop there on my way to Colorado to camp even if I'm not shooting there.

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That was a good question about the sun direction. We shoot at a location where shooting South into the morning sun is a problem for those shooting black powder, especially when there is no breeze.

Best of luck to you on this project.

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Boulder Canyon Bob:  Lots of good advice so far.  It sounds like you will have permission to establish permanent facilities and the flexibility to build them to suit your purposes (within reason).  Of course funding will not be unlimited, but I'll add a few points for your consideration.

  • Who will actually be designing and running the matches once the shooting range has been built?  I am unclear from your post whether the new facility will be run by an existing club, a new club to be formed, or some other arrangement.  Get input from the other members / prospective members of the club which will shoot at that facility.  Things will run much smoother if you have member buy-in.
  • Make a list of all the things that you enjoyed (or did not enjoy) about the facilities at other clubs where you shoot (or have shot in the past).  Incorporate those ideas into your proposed design.  Visit in-person (if possible) or virtually (look at other clubs' websites) for ideas about the bays and facades.
  • What will make your range unique, different from all others in the area?  You mentioned the possibility of a 1000yd long-range bay; that's a good example.  Other ideas might include a moving target, or (possibly easier to build) a moving shooting station.  I'm referring to the "ore cart" type of setup here.  Certainly you should concentrate on getting the basics down, but after that what is it about your range facility that is going to draw-in shooters who might otherwise go elsewhere?
  • Ask around the local area for unused small buildings.  I used to shoot at a club where several of the "Old West town" buildings were actual old shacks and sheds which were no longer being used.  Added to the authentic look, and free for the hauling. 
  • Incorporate plenty of room for loading/unloading tables and a small berm in front of them for containing negligent discharges.
  • Electricity to campsites has been mentioned.  Electricity near the shooting area would be attractive to prospective vendors, assuming that the intent is to eventually host a major match.

I'll think of several other ideas as soon as I hit the "submit reply" button, but that's it for now.  Good luck on the project!

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10 hours ago, Go West said:

That was a good question about the sun direction. We shoot at a location where shooting South into the morning sun is a problem for those shooting black powder, especially when there is no breeze.

Best of luck to you on this project.


I have been known to avoid matches that make me shoot into the sun.  Thanks for pointing this out!  :lol:

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See if you can obtain a copy of the NRA Range Standard manual. Big help in ALL regards.

Bugler

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