RJ Article on Shooting Park

IN THE OUTDOORS: Concerns muzzled for local shooting park

When heavy equipment began moving dirt in January 2007 at the site of the long-awaited Clark County Shooting Park — on North Decatur Boulevard, about five miles north of the I-215 Beltway — it was a great day for recreational shooters across the Las Vegas Valley. For park manager Don Turner and the 30-member Shooting Park Advisory Committee, it marked the turning of a corner, the transition from planning and design to construction.

But for residents of Carmel Canyon — a nearby home development that came into being long after the Clark County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the shooting park — the sight of heavy equipment was a call-to-arms, especially after they learned a shooting facility was being built on the slope many of them thought would remain undeveloped — something only relative newcomers possibly could think.

Turner, along with Las Vegas Councilman Steve Ross and state Sen. John Lee, both members of the advisory committee, accepted an invitation to address concerns of the Carmel Canyon homeowners during a meeting at the Aliante Public Library on Feb. 13. But any hope the trio might have had for a rational exchange of information and concerns was crushed by a frontal assault launched by a crowd of more than 100 jeering homeowners.

It was apparent by his reaction that Turner was blindsided when the woman who was moderating the session explained the meeting would follow a question-and-answer format rather than a more traditional format that includes a presentation followed by a question-and-answer period.

Once the questions started, Turner, Ross and Lee did their best to answer them but constantly were cut off or shouted down. Anytime people in the room sought answers to questions, they too were slapped down by their neighbors. At one point during the meeting, Lee was hit with debris thrown by an angry homeowner who then ducked out through a side door.
Had the people listened, they would have realized early that Turner had come prepared to address their concerns about noise, range safety and lead, among others.

When he finally was allowed to address the noise issue, Turner explained Clark County Code restricts the amount of noise that can emanate from the shooting park to just 56 decibels (dBA). By comparison, normal speech measures 63 to 65 dBA at a distance of three feet, and the sounds of a city street are at 70 dBA. When Arizona’s Tucson Trap and Skeet Club is operating at full capacity, the associated noise measures only 51 dBA at a distance of one mile, Turner said.

At completion, the distance between the shooting line and the closest private property line will be 5,280 feet, one mile exactly. Once the range is operational, the county will test the noise level for compliance. If it is not compliant, the range will be closed until the situation can be remedied.

Formal shooting ranges are operated under a strictly enforced set of rules established for the safety of those who use the range as well as those who might live or play nearby. The same will be true for the county shooting park. Turner said certified range masters will be on site to supervise all shooting activities whenever the park is open. Also, the park police will have an on-site presence. People who don’t follow the range rules will be ticketed and removed.

Turner cited studies that show lead deposited on alkaline soils like those found at the shooting park will not dissolve into lead salts. The lead instead will remain as it is until it is removed periodically. Water passing through the range will be cleaned of lead before it leaves the site. The state Health Department has approved the process for lead removal.

During his address at the October 2006 groundbreaking ceremony for the shooting park, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid talked about shooting activities with his grandson, Mason.
This park is going to allow children of all ages to learn how to shoot, Reid said, adding, “There will be things happening here that will be with boys and girls the rest of their lives.”
May it ever be so.

Doug Nielsen is an award-winning freelance writer and a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His Review Journal column is published Thursday. He can be reached at doug@takinitoutside.com.