WARREN — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission celebrated the agency’s latest partnership shooting range with the city of Warren at Wednesday’s grand opening of the city’s expanded target-shooting facility.
The Warren Shooting Sports Complex originally opened in 2015, but only held ranges for trap and skeet, both shotgun sports. With Wednesday’s opening, a complete rifle/pistol range has been added to complement the facility for local sportsmen and sportswomen to enjoy target practice, self-defense training and sighting in equipment for hunting. A known-distance archery range will be completed within the next month, and a trail for a 3D archery course has been established to offer this pursuit soon.
The 100-yard rifle/pistol range has 10 shooting stations with target stand locations at multiple distances. The shooting area is covered to provide shade and protection from the rain, and each shooting station has clear sideboards installed to deflect spent brass casings and separate each person using the facility. Large earthen berms surround the range to minimize the chance of any errant shot or ricochet from escaping the confined shooting area, and baffles just beyond the firing line add an additional measure of safety that puts the range within the desired construction parameters of the National Rifle Association’s range safety standards.
Warren Mayor Denisa Pennington said the range is the result of a massive partnership effort between many local entities in addition to the AGFC. Much of the matching funds needed to complete the grant requirements came from in-kind contributions from a variety of sources. The improvement of the road leading to the range, gravel for parking areas and internal infrastructure, work on shooting baffles and berms and other required infrastructure were completed by local vendors at no charge or discounted rates to make the range a reality. She thanked the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Bradley County Road Department “and many others.”
“[Southeast Arkansas Community Based Education Center] even built and installed the shooting benches through their metal fabrication trades class, and the benches look fantastic,” Pennington said.
The combined funds and in-kind matching contributions totaled $74,471, which satisfied the 10 percent requirement for the use of Wildlife Restoration funds.
Grant Tomlin, AGFC assistant chief of education, said the range was able to be funded through Wildlife Restoration funds collected through federal excise taxes placed on the sales of firearms and ammunition.
“Range development currently is set at a 90 percent/10 percent ratio,” Tomlin said. “So we were able to pass through $670,000 of federal dollars to the project and really get this thing in good shape.”
AGFC Commissioner J.D. Neeley from Camden said the range is a great example of the agency’s continued support of public participation in hunting, fishing and the shooting sports.
“The Commission is focused on shooting sports,” Neeley said. “We want to see this continue in other communities throughout Arkansas, and we believe this is a good prototype of how these can be done through these sorts of partnerships.”
Tomlin says this sentiment has been echoed through much of the AGFC, and his team is currently looking for land in Northwest Arkansas to serve that portion of the state.
“We helped open a range in Jonesboro this year as well as this Warren range,” Tomlin said. “Operation and maintenance of those ranges are up to the local municipalities, but we can add a lot of value to the initial planning, engineering and construction. The key is finding partners who are willing to step up and work together to maintain and offer these sorts of facilities for the future.”
The Warren Shooting Sports Complex is at 323 Bradley 38 Road, Warren, AR 71671.