Wyoming’s love of guns could pay off big, say supporters of a proposed $10 million shooting sports complex.
“We could say, ‘Hey, we’re the most Second Amendment-friendly state around here. Come to us, we’ll show you how we work,’” said Rep. Dalton Banks, R-Cowley.
“I look forward to submitting my application to get this (shooting complex) up in the Big Horn Basin,” he added.
Dalton made his remarks Friday during discussion about Senate File 169 before the Wyoming House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee.
The bill proposes forming a “state shooting complex task force” to spend up to three years working out the particulars of the shooting complex, including its size and scope.
The task force also would take proposals from municipalities around Wyoming, each explaining why the shooting complex should be built in their community.
The committee voted unanimously to forward the bill to the Wyoming House. The Senate passed the bill on February 2 by a vote of 29-2.
Colorado’s Loss Could Be Wyoming’s Gain
Wyoming is missing out by not having a “world-class” shooting sports complex, said the one of the bill’s main sponsors, Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs.
However, the increasing gun regulations in places like “the state to our south” (likely a reference to Colorado) could pay off for the Cowboy State if Wyoming built its own shooting complex, he said.
Shooting sports organizations – which can draw thousands of participants to their competitions – are getting fed up with other states’ anti-gun sentiments, Hicks said. But their folly could be to Wyoming’s benefit.
“What’s happened is, because of the unfriendly-to-firearms nature of that state, a lot of these organizations over the years have started to boycott that facility – associated with magazine bans and all that other stuff,” he said. “We’ve tried to market ourselves in Wyoming as a firearms-friendly state.”
Who Pays For It?
The bill calls for $10 million to be set aside for the shooting complex, Hicks said. That would include $5 million from the state’s general fund, $2.5 million from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and $2.5 million from the Wyoming Office of Tourism.
Game and Fish supports the idea, because the shooting complex could also be used for outdoor education programs, agency director Brian Nesvik said.
The office of tourism likewise supports the bill, executive director Diane Shober said.
A shooting sports complex could “broaden the base” of the tourism industry, paying huge dividends in the long run, she said.
That $10 million would sit in a special fund, untouched unless and until plans for the shooting complex and its location come to fruition. And even then, the money couldn’t be released until the Legislature authorized it, Hicks said.
In the longer term, maintenance and operations costs for the shooting complex would probably be shared by the municipality it’s built in and private business interests, Hicks said.
Task Force Will Decide
The bills calls for another $40,000 from the general fund to compensate the “non-legislative” members of the task force, Hicks said.
The task force would include two legislators, he said. It would also include the governor, or a proxy, some Wyoming shooting sports enthusiasts, representatives from Wyoming-based firearms or firearms accessory manufacturers, and others.
The task force will come up with blueprints for the shooting complex, which is likely to be huge, Hicks said.
It should include a rifle range extending to at least “2,000 yards,” he said. And there should be ranges for all other manner of shooting sports, including trap and skeet, black powder, competitive pistol target shooting, and archery.
“I want to allow for the maximum amount of creativity” regarding the complex’s design and location, Hicks said.