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Safe target

No easy bull’s eye, but attainable

May 18, 2005

Good neighbor awards should go to Longview Fibre and Julie Semple in the matter of the illegal shooting site near Odell (details on page A2.)

And from it could come an idea to give target shooters a legitimate venue while helping the community in general.

As RaeLynn Ricarte reports, Longview Fibre is taking aim to stop shooters from using an old rock quarry off Lower Neal Creek Road for target practice. The company has banned motor vehicles from the area and has put up additional signage after they were contacted by Semple, a nearby resident, about a frightening incident in early spring: Semple and her dogs were nearly — and accidentally — shot while walking near the site.

Semple pointed out what should be stressed: that most people who use informal target sites act safely and respect private or public property; it is the careless few who make things bad.

Unfortunately, such target/trash locations are likely to crop up again. There is no easy solution. Liability and funding concerns all but negate opening law enforcement ranges to the public; certainly those are valid concerns to law enforcement. Such ranges cannot be opened to the public unless they are staffed by trained officers.

But here’s an idea: schedule officers to staff the shooting range, and pay them to do so on a shoot-for-a-fee basis. This would provide an outlet for people who are willing to pay a nominal fee for their past-time. Some of the proceeds could be used to offset the departments’ operating expenses, such as the increased patrols on Lower Creek Road to keep that site safe and clean.

Once a month, range fees could be dedicated to projects such as Helping Hands Against Violence or the Fair Winds fund for the underprivileged.

As our population grows, more and more pressure is placed on formal and informal recreation areas. There are other illegal target sites out there that have not been identified. In the interest of safety and protecting our natural resources, some public-private partnership to meet this need is indeed a good target.

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