Bob Frye: Fayette County shooting range gets facelift
It's not the busiest public shooting range in the country, like the one on state game land 203 in Allegheny County.
But it's important to many.
And it's in much better shape than probably ever before.
The members of the National Pike Branch of Quality Deer Management Association recently upgraded the shooting range on game land 51 in Fayette County.
Located near Dunbar, the range has 50- and 100-yard ranges, as always. But its shooting stations were rehabilitated, with new benches installed. There's a concrete pad under foot and a roof overhead.
“You don't have to get muddy to shoot. You don't have to get rained on,” said Jason Beck, president of the chapter. “What more could you want in a shooting range?”
Well, how about this.
One of the shooting stations is handicapped accessible, with a ramp leading to it.
Planning for the range began in March. It took until September to get the necessary permits to do the excavation, Beck said.
From there, it was a matter of money.
It cost the chapter $6,700 to do the project. That came from fundraising efforts held by the chapter.
The cost would have been much higher, Beck said, were it not for help from the community. Carl P Fekula Inc. donated excavation and gravel. Gavco gave a discount on concrete. Williams Home Improvement and 84 Lumber donated building materials.
Volunteers provided the labor.
There were a lot of late nights and some working in the rain, Beck said. But the chapter identified the range rehabilitation as a need a while ago and was eager to take it on.
“We raise our money in this area, so we want to make sure it goes back into this area, so everyone benefits,” he said. “We just want to keep people involved in the outdoors. That's what we're all about.”
Indeed, the chapter takes on one project each year, on a rotation.
One year of every three it does something for the community, such as the range. In another year, it does something for adult sportsmen. That was the case last year, when it hosted a program on holding mature bucks on small properties.
The third year of every three, the chapter holds an event aimed at youths, Beck said. That's coming in 2018.
How well the range project is received — and more importantly, how it's treated — will bear watching.
The area around the Dunbar rifle range is occasionally used as an illegal dumping ground. Volunteer crews left the range one night, then returned the next day to pick up where they left off, only to find that someone — presumably a tire shop — had tossed about 65 old tires over the bank, Beck said.
The volunteers collected those, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which owns the range, got rid of them.
On another night, someone had done some shooting, then left their spent brass all over the handicapped access ramp.
Beck is hoping people will care for the new range with some respect.