Summit County Shooting Range reopens Aug. 5 after nearly $200,000 in renovations
Summit County Shooting Range ribbon cutting
What: A ceremony to celebrate nearly $200,000 in renovations at the Summit County Shooting Range, with representatives from Summit County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Summit Range Association and more
When: Wednesday, Aug. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Summit Range, 639 County Road 66 in Keystone
The celebration is open to the public. For more information on the range, including events and hours, see www.summitrange.org.
The Summit County Shooting Range is back and better than ever. Literally.
Just ask rangemaster Merle Schultz, or, better yet, see for yourself. Near the range’s main entrance, found a few hundred yards from the Summit County landfill, the Summit Range Association hung a poster showing what the range looked like when the association took over in 2013.
“It really was an extension of the dump,” he said. “There were TVs and refrigerators an computers, and the county just wanted to close it. But, we didn’t want to see it disappear, and, since then, we’ve slowly watched as it improved.”
What a difference three years and the SRA can make. On Aug. 5, the association is hosting a ribbon cutting and grand re-opening ceremony at the range, which has been closed since mid-May for a round of renovations totaling nearly $200,000.
The much-needed upgrades were sweeping, from new concrete pads on the pistol and rifle ranges to redesigned culverts for drainage in the mud season. The pads together cost roughly $84,000, or roughly half of the $193,000 overall price tag. The remaining $109,000 went to the culverts, a new restroom, two ADA-approved benches, a ADA-accessible ramp from the parking lot and a staircase at main entrance.
The on-site labor took about three months from start to finish, while planning and preparation has been in the works for three years.
“This has been a long time coming, but we’re gradually getting better and better,” Schultz said. “There were a lot of people in the community (who) didn’t just want a place to shoot — they wanted a clean place to shoot.”
A long time coming
The SRA was created to rescue the range and now oversees all activities there, including regular shooting events for youth and women. But, as a nonprofit, the association is funded solely by donations and recycled brass casings — hardly enough to fund even a portion of the renovations.
So, the SRA’s volunteer staff reached out to local and state organizations for grants. Beginning in 2013, the range was awarded a $100,000 grant through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. That sizeable chunk was paired with another grant from CPW, awarded in 2014, and several smaller grants from Summit County and Friends of the NRA.
“We’ve had support from CPW, we’ve had support form the county, we’ve had support from friends of the NRA and we’ve had backing from the Forest Service,” said Schultz, who noted the range sits on county-owned land that’s buttressed by U.S. Forest Service property. “This has been a huge joint effort from a lot of different organizations, and that has really made this all come together.”
But, it wasn’t always easy to coordinate those moving parts. It took nearly two years to draw up the final blueprints — painfully long for a range on the mend — although he says that Summit County donated the majority of pre-project planning and manual labor.
“We’ve had great support from the county and the county commissioners,” he said. “They’ve had to approve all our rules and regulations, and they really spearheaded the process of getting county engineers together to prep the design plans.”
Access for all
For Schultz, two of the most exciting additions are the ADA-approved benches. The SRA worked closely with a local double amputee and sportsman who helped fine-tune the plans. When paired with the ADA ramp, the 50-yard pistol range and 100-yard rifle range are now easily accessible for wheelchairs.
It’s also more accessible for just about anyone. Since it opened, the range has boasted one entrance: a dirt hill at the base of the range. The new stairway is a welcome addition, particularly in winter, when the range is open but surrounded by deep snow piles and drifts.
The rifle pad also has a brand-new shelter for mid-winter shooting. The pistol pad wasn’t so luck — it just didn’t fit in the budget — but Schultz hopes the renovations will bring more people to the new, improved, vastly cleaner range.
“We have lots of people from the Front Range who come up, and they just didn’t bring their families before because it was the Wild West,” he said. “People are now bringing their kids and wives and girlfriends to the range. We’re just trying to bring in as many different people and events as we can to promote the shooting sports.”
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