OGDEN — At the inaugural Weber County Sport Shooting Complex recreation open house Saturday, James Akagi walked away with a new gun case he won in a drawing.
The mostly indoor county-owned complex showed off its expanded public face, welcoming visitors with tours, demonstrations, free topical classes, food and prizes — plus a cowboy quick draw event.
“People think of it as just a tactical range, but it is open for public use,” said range manager Zaric “Zeke” Swander. “We want to do it up right.”
The county parks department took over the complex’s management at the start of the year. Previously, the Weber County Sheriff’s Office operated the complex — the venue’s primary mission then being to serve as a training ground for law enforcement personnel.
New features include classrooms for concealed-carry, self defense, gun safety instruction and other purposes.
And on the firing ranges, video camera systems allow practice shooters to check their distance accuracy between shots.
“There’s nothing else like that around here,” Swander said.
The complex has three ranges. One, a 50-yard range, is reserved for law enforcement. A second 50-yard range and a 300-yard precision rifle range are open to the public.
Lane fees are $5 per person per hour on the 50-yard range and $10 per person for two hours on the 300-yard range.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The complex is closed on Mondays and holidays.
Akagi, a sport shooter and hunter, said he’s been a regular customer at the complex. He said he appreciates it as a very well run, local sporting place.
How does it compare to other ranges?
“It’s more regulated,” Akagi said. “That’s good and bad.”
It’s good for safety, but range users are prohibited from using muzzle loaders or shotguns. Rules restrict some ammo varieties and certain types of rifles are prohibited.
In an orientation video on the complex’s website, a range manager stresses that no steel-jacketed or steel-core ammo is allowed.
“Some people are hiding this ammo and bringing it in anyway,” the video says, adding that some ammo and weapon types cause damage to the range.
Further, the range has elaborate systems to retrieve expended lead, which if not done could become an environmental and regulatory concern.
Swander said the range’s location in the Weber Industrial Park, 2446 N. 1500 West, is a bonus for public shooting, because noise in the wide spaces is not a problem for evening shooting.
The county acquired the complex from a nonprofit foundation amid some controversy in 2014, using a $3.8 million mix of state and county funds.
Some critics objected to the use of country recreation funds, although entities such as the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Rifle Association and local sporting goods stores are strong supporters.