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AGFC targeting space for new range

Courtesy of Randy Zeller, AGFC

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is conducting a search to find a suitable site for a new state-of-the-art rifle, pistol, archery and shotgun range and increase its presence in northwest Arkansas.

“Northwest Arkansas is the fastest-growing portion of the state, and the AGFC is committed to providing hunters and other shooting sports enthusiasts a safe, comfortable space to enjoy their passion,” AGFC Director Austin Booth said. “Excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and archery sales fuel conservation efforts throughout the U.S., and we want to make sure those funds are not only used to increase wildlife habitat, but to increase the opportunities for outdoors enthusiasts providing those funds.”

Booth recently announced the creation of a new division of the AGFC devoted solely to shooting sports, which will include range development as well as the AGFC’s popular Youth Shooting Sports Program and Archery in the Schools Program.

“Learning how to handle firearms safely can be intimidating to new hunters,” Booth said. “This division will help eliminate that barrier to hunting by offering training and locations for people of all ages to learn how to enjoy shooting safely.”

More than half a million Arkansans enjoy recreational shooting, and interest in shooting sports continues to climb. Public participation has increased by more than 28 percent since 2000, with the largest growth being women and youth.

Selecting a site where a shooting range will be developed can be very tricky. In addition to the need for ample space to conduct safe shooting, environmental factors must be taken into consideration, and accessibility will be critical in ensuring the range is easy to find and use.

“The ideal location should be flat, be at least 150 acres, be near major roadways and have public utilities on site or nearby,” Booth said.

The AGFC most recently partnered with the City of Jonesboro to create a new shooting range in that portion of the state, as well as the City of Warren to expand their range to include archery, pistol and rifle shooting opportunities. It also was a major partner in the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex.

If the space is available, the AGFC hopes to build a similar partnership range sporting nine trap fields, five skeet fields, a sporting clays course, pistol and rifle ranges and known-distance as well as 3D archery courses.

“This would be more than just a range, it would be a destination for special events, tournaments and an introduction to the outdoors for many Arkansans,” Booth said. “But we need help finding the perfect location to make this vision a reality.”

Submissions for possible range locations can be entered through the AGFC’s website at www.NWARange.com.

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