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Gun club adding archery, trap to range

| March 17, 2005 11:00 PM

By STEVE KADEL Western News Reporter

Archery and trap shooting enthusiasts will benefit from a recent grant to the Libby Rod and Gun Club.

The $17,437 award from Friends of the NRA will be used to build an archery practice range and a trap house with automatic trap machine at the public rifle range near Libby Airport. It provides final funding for the projects that have a total cost of $31,500.

The archery range will include a concrete slab and roof identical to the existing facility for firearms shooters. The 55-foot by 8-foot slab will have five to eight shooting lanes.

The club said in its proposal that improving the range's shotgun area would help make it a complete shooting sports complex.

"We estimate 15 people travel to other communities, the nearest being over 60 miles, to shoot clay targets," according to the grant written by Joe Crismore. "We have further polled shooters in our community that would shoot clays if it were installed and have estimated another 25 people would shoot locally. This would certainly serve our shotgun community."

Don Clark of the gun club said the projects probably will be completed by the middle of summer, depending on weather, power installation and the availability of volunteers.

This is the third grant the club has gotten from the NRA. The total amount of the grants received is $28,847.

The group also has $17,000 left from a previous $45,000 grant from the Lincoln County Resource Advisory Council.

"That was a key grant that really got everything started with the improvements," Clark said.

The remaining RAC money will be used to bring in underground power to operate the shooting range's water well, service a caretaker's trailer, and run the automatic trap thrower.

Crismore Logging will do the final earthmoving work and chip sealing on the expanded parking area. The new trap area will have topsoil leveled and grass planted.

The shooting range is open to the public seven days a week. Clark said that once the improvements are completed and a caretaker is found, the facility's gate will be closed each night and reopened each morning to prevent late-night shooting.

"We encourage individuals to join rod and gun club, and support improvement projects, but no membership is required," Clark said.

Besides efforts from Orius Das-Co Division in providing underground power, Clark said earlier improvements were made possible with help from Decker Logging, the Lincoln County road crew, U.S. Forest Service, Tally Hoe, Berget Well Drilling, and many volunteers.

The range off Farm to Market Road is on national forest land leased to Lincoln County by the U.S. Forest Service. The gun club operates the range under an agreement with the county parks department.

The range is open year-round, with county road crews clearing snow in the winter. Clark credited Lincoln County Commissioner Rita Windom for help in developing and maintaining the range.

"Rita has been supportive of the whole project," he said. "Kudos to her."