KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Target shooting is fun year round. But as the firearms deer hunting season approaches in autumn, target shooting is also a popular way to “sight in” or improve shooter accuracy with rifles before the hunt.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) provides both staffed and unstaffed shooting ranges for shooters that are safe.
Unfortunately, sometimes firearms are discharged at unauthorized locations on public lands without adequate backstops, and that’s dangerous.
For example, Monte McQuillen, an MDC wildlife biologist in the Clinton area, has found information signs at Truman Lake near the shore shot up by vandals. At one site, bullets from a rifle or pistol have punched holes in a metal sign that’s four feet off the ground. Beyond is the bullet’s potential path across a lake channel and into foliage on the other shore that obscures a home.
“Those people have grandkids that like to play in the yard,” McQuillen said. “It scares me to death what could happen.”
There are safe alternatives for using firearms, such as the Golden Valley Shooting Range. It has a covered firing line for rifle and pistol shooters, shooting benches, target posts backed by earthen berms, a shotgun trap shooting area and a restroom. The range is six miles southwest of Clinton off Southwest 100 Road, which is reached off Missouri 18. Shooting hours are dawn to dusk. The range is not staffed, shooters police their own safety. For information, call 660-885-6981.
MDC also offers several other shooting ranges in northwest and west central Missouri that provide safe places for target practice with a gun or a bow. For a complete list, go to http://mdc.mo.gov/node/6209. That page provides access to lists of ranges and their basic services. For more information on a specific site, go to the “wildlife areas” button on the MDC web page and type in the range or conservation area name for links that provide additional details and maps.
The shooting ranges vary. Some unstaffed ranges are for shotguns only. Others may accommodate rifles and pistols but not shotguns. All three types of firearms are allowed at some. Some shooting ranges and conservation areas offer archery targets. Many are accessible for those who use wheelchairs.
Lake City Shooting Range in eastern Jackson County and Parma Woods Shooting Range in Platte County are staffed ranges serving the western Missouri region. The firing lines are supervised by MDC employees or volunteers for safety and to accommodate several shooters at once. They are among the most modern ranges in the state, and staff or volunteers are sometimes available to help with questions or problems with firearms.
Both the Lake City and the Park Woods ranges will be open on Nov. 11, which is Veteran’s Day and the day before the opening of the Missouri regular firearms deer season Nov. 12 to 22. The shooting hours at Lake City will be 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the hours at Parma Woods will be from 12 noon to 4:30 p.m.
MDC ranges are a good place to teach youngsters and a safe place for accomplished shooters to enjoy firearm shooting skills.