City celebrates construction of new shooting range

Law enforcement and elected officials hoist golden shovels as part of Wednesday’s official ‘groundbreaking’ for Garden City’s new shooting range, currently under construction south of town.

By SCOTT AUST

GARDEN CITY – Bracing against 50-mph wind gusts that stirred up grit and dust, local elected officials, law enforcement and community members met Wednesday afternoon to “break ground” for the new gun range located south of Garden City on Old Highway 83.

Construction of the state-of-the-art facility actually began several weeks ago and is well underway. The project is one of four projects included in a sales tax initiative Finney County voters approved in 2017. They include:

  • Improvements to Jennie Barker Road, completed this year.
  • Lee Richardson Zoo flamingo exhibit upgrade and new Animal Health facility, which has been completed.
  • Indoor gun range.
  • Third fire station and EMS located at the corner of Jennie Barker Road and Schulman Avenue.

“Isn’t it great when people in Finney County get to make decisions for Finney County?” City Manager Matt Allen said. “This is a great project. We’re really excited about it.”

Allen said many partnerships were involved in the gun range project, including the City, County, Community College and Sand and Sage Rifle and Pistol Club.

“This project has spanned three police chiefs and three community college presidents as well. I can remember conversations originally with Carol Ballentine on the idea of on this site some place for all levels of law enforcement to train in western Kansas for local, federal and state agents. We’re excited that the first step of that is in place,” Allen said.

GCPD Capt. Randy Ralston noted that the first memo about the gun range concept was signed by former Chief James Hawkins in December 2012.

“I’m so thankful about everyone who’s worked so hard on the project,” Ralston said. “It’s what we needed here for law enforcement.”

GCPD Capt. Randy Ralston speaks during Wednesday’s shooting range groundbreaking.

The new gun range replaces the former facility built in 1967 that has been deteriorating and whose air filtration system and structure was causing health concerns.

The new range will include eight shooting lanes, classrooms, restrooms, office space, quality filtration system, showers and a parking lot. It will provide a versatile environment for tactical training for law enforcement and allows training with multiple caliber weapons and is rated up to .50 caliber rifles.

The public will also have access to the facility for a safe shooting environment and opportunities for safety training. Other public and private entities, such as the GCCC criminal justice classes and members of the Sand and Sage club and the JROTC, will be able to use the facility.

“It’s going to provide us that next step in training,” Ralston said. “But it also goes one step further in having a safe shooting environment for members of the community to come shoot their firearms and practice in a safe environment.”

Construction of the new shooting range was made possible through a voter-approved sales tax issue in 2017.