Archery course takes shape at Weber County's planned $4.5M outdoor gun range

Thursday , April 05, 2018 - 5:00 AM

OGDEN — The archery target stands are up, a boardwalk traverses the adjacent Kingfisher wetlands and new parkway trails criss-cross the old West Ogden landfill cap.

Weber County’s $4.5 million outdoor shooting range project has a running start after a $650,000 infusion of state and federal funds this year.

RELATED: Ogden adopts gun range ordinance, trails people on board

In the works for several years, the gun range project went through lengthy review, complete with environmental, noise and public safety concerns, and emerged with Ogden City planning commission approval and other permits in 2016.

Jeff Spencer, vice chairman of the committee overseeing the project, said the panel believes all concerns have been resolved.

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Relocation of a portion of the trail around the wetlands has been mitigated by construction of a boardwalk, and new trails nearby host a mountain-biking circuit ideal for high school teams and others. Plus, there will be a cyclocross park. Spencer said the configuration of the gun range will eliminate noise and safety fears.

The trail improvements are part of the county’s separate Observatory Park project, bordering the gun range tract. The Weber River Parkway also runs nearby.

Access to the range and park will be from Avenue A, where a parking lot and bowery are planned. 

The 3D archery range is expected to be open to the public by midsummer, Spencer said. Later phases of the project will include rifle and pistol ranges, and a building housing indoor air rifle, air pistol and archery ranges, plus hunter safety classrooms.

The gun range will help ease pent-up demand for range time in Weber County, he said.

“There are 135,000 concealed-carry permit holders within a 25-mile radius of Ogden,” said Spencer, owner of Kent’s Sports Store on Washington Boulevard.

The Utah Legislature has appropriated $250,000 for the gun range, said state Sen. Allen Christensen of North Ogden. The Utah Department of Natural Resources provided another $400,000 in grants derived from federal excise taxes on firearms and ammunition.

Spencer said $850,000 has been raised overall, and range backers are seeking donations from companies and private benefactors.

Christensen, chairman of the range committee, called the 19-station archery range “a marvelous setup” that could host Olympic-caliber competitions.

RELATED: West Ogden's Observatory Park promises to make once-forgotten spot memorable

Additional components of the gun range have yet to be designed as more funding is sought, and a city ordinance outlining requirements for the range will guide the development.

Spencer said it still might be a year or more before construction will begin on the gun ranges and the building.

County Commissioner Jim Harvey said the project ultimately will not be named a gun range, “as that limits what will be taking place there.”

Mark Benigni, direct of Weber Pathways, said the group worked with the Ogden Trails Network on the Kingfisher rerouting and the new trails. He said Weber Pathways is happy about those plans, but “as far as the others things brought up, the design is still being developed.”

The range also has committed to complying with the city noise ordinance, “to stay within that requirement,” he said, “but I guess we won’t know until it opens.”

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEmarkshenefelt.

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