Gun range faces expiration of lease from Centerville

Apr 22 2013 - 7:30am

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Davis County Sheriff's Deputy Wade Gilmore fires his duty sidearm at a target under the watchful eye of firearms instructor Kyle Sorenson during a training exercise in 2007. (Standard-Examiner file photo)
Davis County Sheriff's Deputy Wade Gilmore fires his duty sidearm at a target under the watchful eye of firearms instructor Kyle Sorenson during a training exercise in 2007. (Standard-Examiner file photo)

CENTERVILLE -- One of the best-kept secrets here may be the 600-yard-long gun range high in the hills above Centerville.

The range, under a locked gate, is where members of Salt Lake City SWAT, as well as Davis County area law enforcement agencies, go to sharpen up their shooting skills.

The range, which rests on 160 acres of city land on the south side of Centerville Canyon, also offers a training range for hunter safety courses, Boy Scout troops looking to earn merit badges and, each October, a place for the public to go to sight-in their rifles for the hunting season.

But about every 10 years the range, managed by the Centerville Small Arms Association, becomes a topic of conversation at Centerville City Council meetings, as leaders discuss renewing another multiyear lease with the nonprofit range operators.

The 10-year lease the association is now operating under in managing the Centerville property expires at the end of this calendar year, Centerville City Manager Steve Thacker said.

Before a new 10-year lease is agreed to, there is talk that council members would like, once the weather in May allows officials to tour the range, which sits at least a quarter-mile away from any other development, officials said.

The Centerville Small Arms Association first began first using the land as a gun range back in the 1960s, Thacker said.

Since then the association has managed the 600-yard stretch of property that is squeezed between two large berms.

Despite the continued growth of Centerville, Thacker said, the range "is quite a distance from any development" where the city owns the property surrounding it.

"It's the best-kept secret in Centerville," Centerville Small Arms Association President Jim Stephens said of the range.

There are a couple of hundred association members who use the range, he said, who in trade provide 20 hours of volunteer maintenance each year.

The association receives nothing from the city to maintain the property, Stephens said.

"It's all free labor. We want to provide this service to people."

Based on that, Stephens said, he can't see any reason why a renewed lease can't be put together.

The only accident the association has ever had on the property involved a vehicle accident, and it involved someone who was not a member of the association damaging a truck, Stephens said.

"We have never had a shooting accident," he said.

But despite the association's track record, Stephens said, before receiving a new lease he anticipates that, during their talks, association members will likely address with the council any potential liability concerns.

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