Brushy Creek Gun Range: The Barbarians at the Range

Gun ranges have their own gestalt. Some of them are all business; the slightest transgression of range rules triggers community condemnation and, later soon, excommunication. Others are like the Wild West, only worse. Users feel free to shoot at anything inanimate. And do. To wit: Brushy Creek, Iowa. Hans Madsen at themessenger.com describes the scene. “One of the rules posted on a large sign in the parking lot of the shooting range on the south end of Brushy Creek State Recreation Area states: ‘Discharging firearms in a reckless manner is prohibited.’ This rule is easier to read than others because it is riddled with fewer bullet holes . . . Park Manager Chad Kelchen [above] has witnessed other unsafe practices on the range, including someone standing next to a target that is being shot at to spot where the bullets were hitting. He saw another person standing on the backstop filming water jugs being shot at with a video camera . . .

The shotgun range on the west side of the park has been vandalized by shooters firing non-shotgun weapons. A blown apart stuffed animal and computers used for target practice litter the ground. Kelchen points to a rule sign at the entrance to the park; it bears more than a dozen bullet holes. All but one indicate they were fired from the range towards the west where several farm sites are located.

So, whose responsibility is this anyway?

Since park personnel can’t personally watch over the ranges, it’s up the public using them to practice safe shooting and report someone doing something unsafe or committing an act of vandalism, Kelchen said.

“If you see something stupid take down a plate number and make a call.”

On occasion, he puts non-uniformed personnel in the area just to keep an eye on things, he said.

I’m confused. Why can’t Mr. Kelchen and his taxpayer-funded employees sort this out? Surely banning offenders, prosecuting criminal transgressions, instituting a steady stretch of official observation, putting some [bullet-proof] cameras on site and fostering pro-safety peer pressure (designated range officials) would eliminate this bad behavior.

Let me guess: money? Uh, no. Kelchen could (at least theoretically) restrict opening hours to those times when park officials can monitor the ranges. And if he needs help, ask. The NRA seems obliging enough . . .

The park was recently been given a grant by the National Rifle Association; the money will be used to install target frames and foam target holders.

Kelchen would like to do more, but vandalism keeps plans for further development at bay.

“I’d like to put up lights and concrete pad,” he said. “I’m afraid to do it, they would just blow it apart.”

A man in charge of a gun range should more feared than afraid, IMHO. TTAG’s put a call into the reporter to try and find out more.