caliber limitation, mandatory ceasefires, no fully automatic firearms and much more.
Range staff are not the only ones maintaining the safety and cleanliness of the ranges. Staffed shooting ranges and outdoor education centers rely heavily on help from volunteer instructors like Haley, along with a significant amount of maintenance work.
John Zimmerly, 2010 volunteer of the year between the two staffed St. Louis-area ranges, has donated more than 1,500 hours to Jay Henges Shooting Range since 2009. Maintenance and safety also depend on the Department’s “adopt-a-range” program. Individuals, families, shooting clubs or other organizations can adopt all or part of a staffed or unstaffed range. Special signage recognizes their support.
“The ranges are for the public, and the adopt a range program allows the public to take ownership of their ranges by helping keep them clean and safe,” Legg said. A range adoption can be arranged by contacting a range manager or local MDC office.
Youth under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult, both as a safety precaution and as a way of helping them learn as they go.
“Hunter education is one of the main drivers behind shooting ranges,” Legg said. “Once you teach people how to hunt, they need a place where they can go to become proficient. That’s one of the big reasons the Department of Conservation developed these shooting ranges.”
According to Andy Dalton Shooting Range volunteer Louis Boos, the best feature of the staffed shooting ranges is the controlled environment that assures shooters.
“Some people see unsafe shooting practices and decide they don’t want to be a part of it. Then they see how it’s done at the staffed ranges, and they know that’s the way it should be,” Boos said. “People might be doing something wrong, but the staffed ranges always have someone there to correct mistakes.”
Brooks says that is exactly the goal.
“We have trained staff who have the ability to share their passion with new people who want to be involved in hunting or shooting but don’t know how to take the first step,” Brooks said. “These facilities give people the opportunity to develop their hands-on skills through practice and programs in a safe environment.”
Programs in Action
“The programs and services that the staffed shooting ranges offer are important both for bringing in new hunters and for bringing people back to hunting,” Cockerham said.