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Grants Awarded for Seven Texas Target Range Projects
HOUSTON — Professional and recreational sport shooters alike will benefit from $278,000 in matching grants for the construction and renovation of seven target ranges across Texas in Kerr, McLennan, Harris, Cochran, Angelina, Caldwell, Williamson and Smith Counties.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved the target-range grants during its Aug. 21 public meeting in Houston. Recipients of the 2009 funding include American Shooting Center, a shooting facility that is one of the most widely used by hunter-education instructors in the Houston area. This center in Harris County has been approved to receive $30,000 in 2009 for the continued development of sporting clays and infrastructure such as parking lots and roads. The site, at the Cullen Barker Reservoir/ George Bush Park in West Houston, has received prior funding of more than $500,000 during the 1980s and 1990s. Hunter-education instructors frequently use the center because of its location near the largest urban center in Texas.
Another grant recipient is Pines Sporting Club in Angelina County near Lufkin. The club sponsors several youth shoots and will serve as a model club for the Scholastic Clays Target Program, a program sponsored by the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation that introduces school-aged children to sport shooting and allows them to compete as well as learn safe handling of firearms. Pines Sporting Club was approved to receive $60,000 for enhancements to its shotgun ranges.
Steve Hall, Texas Parks and Wildlife education director said the Pines Sporting Club grant will go a long way in helping the club expand what it has to offer recreational shooters in the hope that it will be able to serve more youth.
"Their range is currently active in providing a place for 4-H Shooting Sports," Hall said. "The number of youths served through this facility-enhancement should more than triple, increasing from 100 4-H members to 350 4-H members and 50 new Scholastic Clay Target participants."
Hall said these numbers should increase further through family memberships, awareness events and shoots, and shooting competitions that the club will host.
Hall said youth shooting sports foster positive character traits in participants and that through efforts such as the target-range grants and outreach events, he hopes the sport continues to grow and reach the level of popularity of school-sponsored sports such as football and basketball.
"Shooting sports are outdoors, wholesome and lifelong activities that promote characteristics such as positive communications, self-esteem, teamwork and leadership," he said. "Shotgun clays is an extracurricular activity and will hopefully, one day, be a school-sponsored activity in Texas."
The grants staff received applications from seven ranges for consideration during fiscal year 2009, and all were recommended for funding. Criteria for rating the applications were revised in August 2007, including a stipulation that accommodates Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s efforts to support various Texas Youth Shooting Sports programs alongside hunter education.
Hall said that providing grant money to legitimate shooting ranges allows the operators to improve and promote their facilities and assist them in being open to public for a long time.
"The encroachment of cities is causing us to lose ranges faster than we can build them," Hall said. "More people want to shoot, but there are fewer places for them to shoot safely."
Hall said factors of urban encroachment that threaten target ranges are population sprawl on once open land, which makes the occasional stray bullet from a shooting range more dangerous, and complaints from nearby residents of the noise from the ranges — though the traffic on a three-lane residential road is often noisier.
Hall said another challenge that shooting ranges face is the increased cost of items associated with the sport such as ammunition, claybirds and the cost of gasoline for rural residents who have to drive to a more populated area to shoot at a public range.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Federal Assistance, administers a target-range grant program to provide funding for qualifying applicants from both the private and public sectors that open their shooting facilities to the public and offer hunter education.
Applicants must provide 25 percent of the total project cost, and the federal grant funds, made available through Texas’ "hunter safety apportionment," fulfill the remaining 75 percent. The grants allow recipients to enhance their existing ranges or to build new facilities, including infrastructure, new ranges, storage units and hunter-education classrooms.
Other target range projects that will be funded through the grants include:
Hill Country Shooting Sports Center — This shooting center near Kerrville received $60,000 in a project grant for the final construction phase of its air-gun range at its USA Shooting and training facility. The facility can be used for archery activities and hunter education.
Central Texas Rifle and Pistol Club — This McLennan County facility west of Waco will receive $30,000 toward the continued development of its pistol and rifle ranges and classroom facilities and the possible construction of a shotgun range. The center was initially approved for construction in 2006, and inspection and initial development was completed in 2008, costing $60,000.
Cochran County 4-H Shooting Sports Range — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved $38,000 to this range for the development of its existing rifle, pistol and shotgun ranges, and for possible construction of archery and shotgun ranges at another location. The range is in deep West Texas and offers training and sporting opportunities to recreational shooters who do not live near a major city in the state.
Legacy Gun Club — This club will receive $30,000 to begin the process of building an indoor rifle, pistol and archery facility as well as an indoor hunter-education classroom. The club, which is just north of Austin, would offer opportunities for shooting and hunter education in an urban center that is generally void of such facilities.
Rose City Flying Clays — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved a grant of $30,000 for this range to further develop its shotgun facilities. This range also sponsors youth sport-shooting activities in East Texas.
Grants are available to qualifying applicants from both private and governmental sectors that provide public use and hunter education at their facilities. For more information on Target Range grants, contact Steve Hall at TPWD at (512) 389-4568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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