Written by Product Development Manager Mark Walker
I’ve been a competitive shooter for quite a while and have attended matches around the country. Every single one of these matches had a dedicated group of people who worked hard to make sure everything went smoothly and safely. You see these people at the matches working hard, however, there is another group of people at every range who work just as hard. They are the grounds keepers and volunteers that help keep the range itself in good condition.
Last summer, I became a member of Bucksnort Rifle Range in Marshall, Missouri. The range is a typical high power range with firing lines out to 600 yds. We had the opportunity to shoot the first f-class match held there last fall and everything went down without a hitch. I wondered to myself who took care of all the equipment and the facilities to keep this range running.
Several months later I received the 2016 range schedule and I was excited to see two more f-class matches for this summer. However there were also a couple of “range” days on the calendar. I asked a friend what this meant and he informed me they were the days that club members showed up to work on the range and repair anything that was needing to be fixed. Even though my handiness is somewhat limited, I decided that I would have to make sure that I was there to help out.
The day started early with several large projects that needed to be completed. These ranged from spreading new rock in the pits, repairing a rotting post in the target shed, building new sets of targets, to clearing trees and brush which had started to encroach on the firing lines. They divided all of us into crews so that all of the projects could be worked on simultaneously.
I started working with the crew building the new targets and they quickly got a jig created to aid in making sure everything was square. In no time we had all the frames built and we then began to attach the cardboard to the face. About half way through, one of the guys that had been working on the post in the shed had spotted the generator I had brought with me in the back of my truck. He said they sure could use it in the pits so I left the target crew and went down to help with the shed.
When I got to the shed, it became apparent that most of the guys working there were experienced building contractors. These guys knew exactly what needed to be done so I tried to stay out of the way and help where I could. They finished up with the generator relatively quickly so I ran back up to continue helping with the targets.
Once I got back, the target crew had already completed attaching the cardboard to the frames and were trying come up with a quick way to paste new targets to them. It appeared that they had this well in hand, so I noticed that they were starting to spread gravel in the parking areas with a front loader. So I grabbed a rake and started to help level out the areas that the front loader couldn’t get to. I have to say that a good man on the front loader is worth their weight in gold. I continued helping with the gravel until I had to leave.
Looking around the range the next day, the amount of work that had been accomplished was impressive. Everyone’s hard work had definitely paid off and the improvements will help to make this year’s matches even more enjoyable. Most ranges can’t afford to hire this kind of work out, so it takes many volunteers to keep the ranges up and running smoothly for everyone to enjoy.
Next time you see “range day” on the schedule, put the rifle down and grab some tools!