After 50 or so years of turning a blind eye — and a deaf ear — to the goings-on at three informal gun ranges on state land off Hoosier Valley Road, the state Department of Natural Resources has finally stepped up.
The DNR this week announced a series of temporary rules to address concerns raised by neighbors over many years.
StrokeStyle/$ID/Solidn The ranges will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or sunset, whichever is earliest, Mondays through Saturdays. They’ll be closed on Sundays.
StrokeStyle/$ID/Solidn The westernmost of the three ranges is closed. The DNR is putting up new signs for the remaining two ranges.
StrokeStyle/$ID/Solidn Bill Sterrett, district supervisor with the DNR’s forest resources division, said the temporary land use order allows only “common use” ammunition capacities of up to 15 rounds in the barrel and magazine combined. “The intent is to restrict those who fire off 50 or 100 rounds at a crack,” he said.
StrokeStyle/$ID/Solidn Incendiary, explosive, armor-piercing and tracer fire ammunition and targets are also prohibited.
Sterrett said the DNR will ask local law enforcement to enforce the restrictions.
The DNR acted swiftly to put the temporary restrictions in place after it held a June hearing with more than 100 neighbors, Blair Township officials and shooters.
Sterrett said this won’t be the last word. “It’s going to be a much lengthier process, but we definitely wanted to address the immediate situation,” he said.
That’s the way it should be — and should have been. Blair Township Supervisor Patrick Pahl said he’s been getting complaints about the ranges for six years and has passed them along to the DNR.
Neighbors said they’ve been complaining about the late hours, the noise from exploding targets and shot-up road signs for a lot longer than that.
Hoosier Valley Road resident Beate Raffaele was happy to hear about the restrictions but wanted more. “ ... I feel the ultimate decision should be they move it,” she said.
That may happen. Sterrett said the ranges are “no longer a good fit out there.”
He’s right. Though shooters can correctly point out that the ranges were there long before the neighbors, there’s also no denying that things had gotten too wild west; shooters were using bigger guns, bigger clips and exploding targets at all hours; they were hauling all kinds of junk into the woods to use as targets and shooting up road signs. Understandably, neighbors felt they were under siege.
No matter who was there first, homes and target ranges — particularly ones with few if any rules — don’t mix.