On target: City, state to build shooting range in Jacksonville

By Jeanni Brosius Originally Published October 18, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 17, 2012 at 11:08 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Gov. Mike Beebe, in the background, speaks at the groundbreaking for the new shooting sports complex in Jacksonville. The center will feature 13 ranges and space for archery.

— After working for more than two years to get a shooting range in Jacksonville, the city of Jacksonville is partnering with the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to build the largest shooting complex of its kind in Arkansas.

Ground was broken for the shooting range Monday morning.

“This is a tribute to the fact that Arkansas is rich and steeped in its tradition of the outdoors,” Gov. Mike Beebe said to a small crowd that had gathered to watch the groundbreaking ceremony for the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Shooting Sports Complex.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, along with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the city of Jacksonville, have come together to build a shooting complex with a 5,100-square-foot clubhouse. The capital campaign for the $1.5 million project will seek private donations, and the range will be built near the intersection of North JP Wright Loop and Graham roads, on Jacksonville’s east side close to the Holland Bottoms Wildlife Management Area.

“Just this morning, we got an [anonymous] donation of $50,000,” said Bobby Martin, chairman of the foundation.

Arkansas leads the nation in shooting sports with more than 7,000 students who participate in the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program each year, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation.

The new shooting complex will be used for shooting sports and archery and will be built to Ammeter Trapshooting Association standards. The facility’s 3D archery targets will allow an archer to use his skills in a simulated hunting and skills competition.

“To have this in our town is just phenomenal,” said Phillip Carlisle, a trap-shooting coach at Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School and assistant coach at Jacksonville High School. “The problem with trap shooting is, there’s very few places to shoot. To have it right here, it’s going to be first choice for the kids.”

Carlisle said it is difficult and expensive to take the students to other ranges, such as the Remington Gun Club in Lonoke.

He also said the project should be finished by March 2013 and open to host the 2013 Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program State Championships in April.

The range will be the largest of its kind in the state, with 13 ranges and room for expansion. It will also be open to the public, but Carlisle said the fees haven’t been set yet.

“The range is going to be a tremendous asset to Jacksonville and the state of Arkansas, and we are excited to be a part of such a large project,” Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher said in a press release from the foundation. “The city of Jacksonville has donated the land for this fine facility and fully supports this initiative.”

Staff writer Jeanni Brosius can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or jbrosius@arkansasonline.com.

Three Rivers Edition Writer Jeanni Brosius can be reached at 501-244-4307 or jbrosius@arkansasonline.com.

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