Campbell, Park Counties Are Finalists For $10M Shooting Complex

Campbell County and Park County beat out seven other communities vying for a multi-million-dollar state shooting complex, it was announced Tuesday. Now one of them must beat the other.

Mark Heinz

June 27, 20245 min read

Gillette and Cody 6 26 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Out of an initial field of nine competitors to put a new $10 million state shooting complex, Campbell and Park counties are the last two standing.

Now, one must beat out the other to end up with what promoters have said will be a “world-class” shooting facility and be the shooting sports envy of the entire region.

“I think we’re all satisfied with the efforts we put in and pleasantly surprised to be one of the two finalists, because there was a lot of good competition,” Leslie Perkins, public information officer for the Campbell County Commission, told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.

“We all have a lot of faith in our community, and we think this is the right location,” she added.

James Klessens, the CEO and president of Forward Cody, helped put together Park County’s proposal. He told Cowboy State Daily that he’s confident about Park County’s chances.

“This will be just one more piece of the outdoor recreation business for Cody,” he said.

And the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West gives Park County and edge, Klessens added.

“The firearms museum certainly lends credence for Park County being a good site, and it will give visitors to the shooting complex a reason to stay here,” he said.

Attractions that will encourage shooting match competitors to linger in Wyoming, and keep spending their money here, are one item that the Legislature’s Shooting Complex Task Force listed as a “must have” for the new facility’s location.

From 9 To 2

Competition for the shooting complex location kicked off in March with Sheridan, Campbell County, Natrona County, Park County, Cheyenne, Fremont County, Hot Springs County, Uinta County and Guernsey in the running.

Earlier this month, the field was whittled down to Campbell County, Park County, Natrona County and Cheyenne.

After lengthy presentations to the task force by representatives from those communities this week, Campbell and Park counties made the final cut.

Task force members will tour the finalists’ proposed sites in July, and the winner will likely be chosen in August. Construction of the new shooting complex could start as soon as next spring.

Not Your Daddy’s Shooting Range

Wyoming already has skads of shooting ranges, including near Gillette and Cody.

But what boosters of the statewide shooting complex envision is something entirely next level. It will be intended to attract national and international shooting matches of all types.

And it’s hoped it will draw world-class competitors and their families to explore the Cowboy State and stay for its attractions.

The shooting complex won’t be cheap. The Wyoming Legislature during its 2023 session passed a bill setting aside $10 million for the shooting complex and appointing the task force to lay plans and select a location for the facility.

The money 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 sits in a special account. It will remain untouched until the Legislature agrees to release it, likely during its 2025 session.

Site Proposals

From the start of the selection process, the task force made it clear that the new shooting complex can’t be built way out in the boonies.

To help pump money into the Wyoming economy, it must be reasonably close to amenities such as dining, lodging and recreation opportunities.

Campbell County’s proposed site is 5,512 acres southeast of its Cam-plex complex within easy driving distance of Gillette, Perkins said.

Park County has earmarked 2,036 acres about 7.5 miles south of Cody along Highway 120, “the Meeteetse Highway,” Klessens said.

The proposed Park County site has “lots of topography” that would work well for a wide variety of ranges, he said.

Likewise, Perkins said the land in Campbell County is idea for the safe construction of ranges for ultra long-distance rifle shooting, shotgun sports, competitive pistol shooting, archery and more.

While Park County boasts proximity to Yellowstone National Park, the Campbell County proposal notes that Devils Tower is only a short drive away.

Both communities recognize the economic potential of the shooting complex.

It would bring valuable diversification of the Campbell County economy, Perkins said.

Klessens said it would dovetail nicely with Cody’s growing outdoors industry economic sector.

What About Existing Local Ranges?

The existing Cody Shooting Complex has a variety of shotgun sport ranges, as well facilities for rifle, handgun and archery, president Wes Hanson told Cowboy State Daily.

If Park County is chosen for the massive new shooting complex, it’s not certain how that might affect the Cody facility, he said.

“We’re just basically waiting to see what happens. We’re just going to keep doing our thing,” he said.

The Gillette Gun Club thinks a shooting complex there would be a good thing, past president Charles Johnson stated in a letter of support for Campbell County’s bid.

The new shooting complex could provide things that the gun club can’t, such as long-distance rifle ranges, he stated.

“Our property lease from the city is limited in size and the comm unity of Gillette is growing around it,” Johnson wrote.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter