Within the next few years, one lucky Wyoming community could host a $10 million shooting complex that will be the envy of the entire region.
At least that’s the hope of a shooting complex task force appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon, which met for the first time in Casper on Friday.
If and when it’s built, the shooting complex could spark huge economic benefits, Gordon told the task force members via Zoom.
The complex “is a better way to preserve our respect for the Second Amendment, firearms and marksmanship,” he said.
The task force includes members of the Wyoming Legislature, as well as representatives from the Wyoming Office of Tourism, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, the Wyoming Business Council, private businesses and conservation groups.
The group is charged to spend roughly the next two years coming up with solid plans for the shooting complex to present to the Legislature. Towns and cities across Wyoming also will get a chance to submit requests for proposals to be the chosen site for the complex.
Not Just Another Target Range
The Legislature early this year passed a bill approving the formation of the task force.
Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, co-sponsored the bill and also sits on the task force.
The vision is for the complex to be far more than just another shooting range, he said. Instead, it’s to build a complex that would rival several already in other states across the region.
“This should be world class,” he said. “We do not want to cut ourselves short or sell ourselves short.”
It could include target ranges for all types of shooting sports, including pistol and long-range rifle shooting, black powder, archery and shotgun sports such as trap and skeet shooting, Hicks said.
It also could include an educational facility for hunter education and wildlife conservation classes, he said.
Hicks and other members of the task force also mused that the complex could include lodging and concessions so it could host huge national and international shooting competitions.
During times between large shooting competitions, it would be open to the public, Hicks said.
There was some discussion for how the task force might whittle down communities’ proposals to host the shooting complex.
It was suggested that it could be based on a “points system.” The points could be assessed by what necessary attributes each town or city has – such as quick access to an airport, on-site water, sewer and power for a large facility and the like.
The task force also plans to tour some existing shooting complexes, such as one near Grand Junction, Colorado, to glean ideas.
Where’s The Money Coming From?
The Legislature agreed to set aside $10 million for the shooting complex. That includes $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.
That $10 million will 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 can’t be released until the Legislature authorizes it.
Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.