What would you say if there was a shooting range next door to your high school? I would have said ‘hell, yes!’ and joined said range in a heartbeat. It would have given me a place to shoot when I wasn’t in school, and place to leave my car and shotgun while I was in class. It would have been a win-win for me and my friends, but some people don’t see it that way . . .
The school board of Waukee, Iowa is building a middle school and high school in a formerly remote parcel adjacent to the New Pioneer Gun Club. Iowa isn’t known as a hoplophobic nanny state, but some neighbors have their panties in a wad over the construction of a new high school within 650 feet (the horror!) of a shooting range.
But here’s the deal: the New Pioneer Gun Club is a shotgun-only range with stations for trap, skeet and sporting clays. All of the firing lanes are pointed away from the schools or toward the interior of New Pioneer’s 100-acre facility, so no shot will ever leave the gun club’s property, and shot size is restricted to #9 birdshot. Club members are even building a fenced berm along their property line adjacent to the school grounds.
I don’t see how even the most thin-skinned neighbor (see what I did there?) could be injured by #9 shot from a distance of at least 215 yards. I’ve been pelted by shot rain from larger #4 birdshot from 200-odd yards away, and it hits with all the lethality of a thrown handful of gravel. I’m not sure #9 birdshot can even travel 650 feet when fired at a 45-degree angle, but even if it did it couldn’t hurt you unless you looked up and caught a pellet in the eye.
These angry neighbors, of course, really want the range shut down because they don’t like the distant, muted ‘crump’ of shotguns being fired. I haven’t been to a skeet range in decades, but I was always amazed by how quickly the sound of a shotgun is attenuated by distance. That Mossberg is deafening up-close, painful at 25 feet, merely ‘loud’ at 75 feet, and a polite ‘crump’ at 200 yards. Rifles, OTOH, are still painful at 50 yards and damned loud much farther than that.
From USA Today:
Some Stone Prairie residents say [the school siting] also sounds bad.
“All summer long and all Saturday morning,” you can hear gunfire, resident Donna Dressel said.
With the exception of special events, the facility is open Wednesday through Sunday, 1 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
Lena and Wayne Schuck said they were unaware of the gun club until after they bought their home in Stone Prairie one year ago.
They were startled by nearby shotgun blasts as soon as they moved in, Lena Schuck said. “Had I known there was a gun club back there, I probably wouldn’t have bought the home,” she said, adding that she has made complaints to the city.
‘Startled by shotgun blasts?’ Doubtful at that distance. But even if they moved in right behind the berm at a 100-yard .50 BMG range, sensitive neighbors like this can go pound sand. They moved in last year, and New Pioneer Gun Club has been there for 52 years.
In legal terms, this is called ‘coming to the nuisance’ and the idea is very simple: if you don’t want to live next to a shooting range, don’t move in next to a shooting range. Newcomers are not allowed to move in next to the ‘nuisance’ (in this case, barely-audible shotgun reports) and then sue to shut it down.
I’ve got to hand it to both the school board and the shooting range, for sticking quite literally to their guns on this issue. I can only hope (in vain) that my local school board would be so sensible.