STURGIS, S.D. – The first reading of a shooting range ordinance was met with some suggestions from the public but in general, was viewed as a good start to establish a legal guideline through which shooting ranges can operate in the county.
The Meade County Commission, at its Nov. 8 regular meeting, approved the first reading and scheduled the second reading later in November.
The ordinance was drafted in response to plans by the South Dakota Game Fish & Parks (GF&P) to build a 400-acre public shooting range in southeast Meade County near the intersections of Elk Vale and Elk Creek Roads.
Those plans have been opposed by landowners, along with wildlife and environmental activists who say the disruption from what is being billed as the largest gun range in the United States far outweighs any benefits from such a facility.
Proponents believe the shooting range will provide services that will benefit the youngest sportsman to seasoned competitors, provide training facilities for law enforcement, as well as attract more business to the area.
Among concerns expressed during the public hearing was the lack of clarification concerning section lines in the ordinance. Both Tyler Woods and Matthew Kammerer who ranch adjacent to the proposed shooting range say that construction plans released by the GF&P would result in active shooting taking place across section lines and pose a huge safety issue for the public and livestock, as well as an ongoing land-use issue for landowners.
Questions as to lighting allowed for night-time use, the requirement of base-line readings of water and soil to better determine lead pollution, fire mitigation, accident liability, and continued housing development in the area of the shooting range being planned by the GF&P were all brought to the commissioner’s attention.
In an earlier comment prior to the first reading, Kammerer said the ordinance, as written, needs work. “I don’t see how the language in the ordinance, admittedly influenced by National Rifle Association guidelines, addresses the greater issues.” He added, “It’s no secret I would just as soon see this whole thing disappear. But if it’s going to be forced on us, then the commissioners need to put more teeth to it.”
The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for November 22 at 10 a.m.