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Shooting range could be reality

Clallam County Parks and Fair Divison manager Joel Winborn has a gun range in his sights.

Winborn told the Clallam County Parks Board that discussions with the state Department of Natural Resources to reconvey land for a gun range into county ownership are moving ahead.

"We are at a point now where we are going to sign a letter of intent to get the process moving toward the next stage," Winborn said. "However, DNR representatives said the process of reconveyance may take upward of a year to finish."

The county has been trying to nail down a location for a new shooting range for years. Winborn said county staff had been close to placing a range in the Blue Mountain area but the project fell apart before completion.

Then in 2001, Winborn began to have discussions with DNR.

"We're making an official request for 320 acres of land to go back into the county from state trust, which is just west of (Port Angeles) in the Sadie Creek area," Winborn said. "The site would be located in the middle of the acreage."

Current uses of the forestland, such as off road vehicle recreation, would continue if the county took over the land. An organization called Pacific Northwest Shooting Park Association would take the lead in creating and maintaining the gun range.

"The group already has an initial schematic of what the range would look like, but it's all very preliminary still; we need to wait and hear from DNR before thinking about what we're going to have," Winborn said. "But I would expect a couple of pistol ranges and three rifle ranges varying in size from 100 to 300 yards as a minimum, with the possibility of a clubhouse and archery range to be phased in over time."

Winborn said the need for a shooting range has grown over the years with additional population densities and ever-expanding law enforcement agencies.

"It is difficult for a guy or girl to get their rifle sighted or to teach their children of the importance of gun safety," Winborn said. "Plus law enforcement is always looking for a place to hone their skills and perform necessary training as well."

Sequim Police Chief Robert Spinks has had a difficult time securing a range for training, often driving officers to Forks.

"It really impacts the law enforcement community if we have limited areas to do mandatory training, based on case law benchmarks," Spinks said. "Which is why we've taken it upon ourselves to start the ball rolling on creating a very small arms training range of our own."

Spinks said the range would be large enough for a couple of officers to get their quarterly training but would not be open to the public.

Winborn said he would con tinue to update the parks board with DNR responses. The parks board meets at 5:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month in the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

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