Carson City temporarily closed the rifle range out of “an abundance of caution”

by Roger Moellendorf and Brian Bahouth

Shooters practice on the Carson City rifle range - image - Roger Moellendorf, Nevada Capital News.

Carson City – On Friday, September 21 the Carson City Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department issued new winter hours for the Carson City Rifle and Pistol Range limiting the long range hours to Sundays only from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  

The long range had been previously open the same hours as the rest of the shooting range, which is 6:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Sunday. The reason given for the modified hours for the long range was based on concerns of a conflict with neighboring properties.  A vehicle window had been broken and possibly shot out at the nearby landfill, but a Sheriff’s Office investigation showed no connection to the shooting range.

“With the growth and expansion of uses in the surrounding areas, this modified schedule will allow the City and its collaborative partner to verify that adequate safety measures are in place and do not conflict with neighboring properties.”

Then on Sunday, September 23, the Department sent out a new press release stating that after an investigation by the Carson City Sheriff’s Office cleared all safety concerns the operating hours of the long range had been restored and will once again be open seven days a week along with the rest of the range.  

To find out more about what happened at the shooting range and other Parks and Recreation matters, Nevada Capital News reporter Roger Moellendorf visited the office of Carson City Director of Parks, Recreation and Open Space Jennifer Budge …

Carson City owns Rifle and Pistol Range, and the Carson City Rifle and Pistol Club, a non-profit organization, operates the facility through an agreement with the City.

“We were notified by a private individual of a potential safety issue,” Jennifer Budge said.  “We immediately reported it to the Sheriff’s Office, and under the abundance of caution, we thought it might be something related to the operation of the long range.

“Thanks to Kenny Furlong for his quick action and the investigation team,” Budge continued.  “They did a really quick turnaround on what was a potential safety concern. They investigated the report.  As a temporary measure we only closed the long range for three days. It was a temporary close. The rest of the range remained open and available to the public, still free of charge.

“Once the investigation was done from the Sheriff’s Office, the report was unfounded and nothing related to the range whatsoever, and we opened up immediately after the Sheriff notified us of that and checking with him first to make sure everything was alright, so we were working with the Sheriff’s Office the entire time.  They were really responsive. There was really only the one range that was closed temporarily. It’s now back open. The entire range is open seven days a week, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.”

On the left, the Carson City Rifle and Pistol Range as seen from a satellite. On the right, you can see the rifle and pistol lines of the range area. The rifle line was temporarily closed for unfounded safety concerns – image – Brian Bahouth and Roger Moellendorf, Nevada Capital News.

For Jennifer Budge, she said she would rather be safe than sorry regarding the city’s shooting range.

“The safety concern was completely unfounded and not related to the range, which we were thankful to hear,” Budge said.  “I’d rather be closed just temporarily to be safe, to make sure everything is alright and found that they were, so we got it completely open.”

The shooting range is one of 30 parks in Carson City, and managers have been planning safety and appearance upgrades.

“We’ve been doing a lot of safety improvements out at the range thanks to the support of the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Pittman/Robertson funding we just did a bunch of improvements to the private bays, specifically on the north side of the private bays.  We’ve done some berm enhancement.  Public Works did all the dirt work, and was completely funded through a nonprofit grant,” Budge said.

Even though the Carson City Rifle and Pistol Club provides 13 volunteer range safety officers intended to monitor the lines and educate new users during posted hours of operation, the range has been the object of vandalism, illegal dumping and improper use, so a gate has been installed to better control off-hour access to the facility.

“It helps us just make sure that the range is clean and safe and no one is putting themselves in harm’s way, so the operational hours for the winter are 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and that gate helps us regulate that,” Budge said.

With development come concerns for civic managers across the nation regarding the location of shooting ranges, and Jennifer Budge said Carson City’s goal is to keep the range open and safe.

“As development encroaches on the lands where ranges occur, there might not be an adequate safety buffer or whatever, and I think that is always a fear, and our goal is to keep that facility safe and open to the public,” said Budge.

Other parks, recreation and open space topics were discussed during the audio interview embedded above such as the, status of the new disc golf course construction; recent and proposed open space acquisitions; the operations of the city’s Multi-purpose Athletic Center (MAC); new recreation programs; parks and facilities renovations and the construction of the new Schulz Ranch Park in south Carson City … for more, listen to the audio interview …