ST. LOUIS MO - Firearm enthusiasts now have a new, state-of-the-art facility in the St. Louis area where they can hone their marksmanship skills. After shutting down for extensive renovations in December of last year, the rifle/pistol range at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Jay Henges Shooting Range will reopen on Wednesday, Oct. 13.
To welcome the public to the remodeled range, the MDC is offering free shooting for the weekend of Oct. 15. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 15-17, shooters can choose from one of the following, free of charge: an hour on the new rifle/pistol range, a round of trap shooting, an hour on the shotgun patterning range, or an hour on the static or walk-through 3-D archery ranges. The fee for each of these activities is normally $3.
Jay Henges Range Supervisor Jake Hindman said that construction delays caused the rifle/pistol range to reopen slightly later than planned. Original plans called for the range to go back on line in September.
“Although we are opening a little later than expected, I believe shooters will find our new range a tremendous facility offering a safe shooting experience while also being environmentally friendly, ” Hindman said.
According to Hindman, the range normally sees more than 20,000 shooters each year.
Part of the renovation is a new high-pressure concrete floor, allowing users to place and retrieve targets without the need to walk through dirt or mud, as was sometimes necessary before. The concrete floor will also make placing targets much easier.
In addition to adding convenience, the new concrete floor will enhance the safety of the range. Projectiles striking a hard surface like concrete tend to follow the plane of that surface in a predictable way, instead of deflecting into erratic ricochets, as they do when hitting soft surfaces like dirt. A system of angled concrete baffles coupled with a steel bullet trap and the concrete floor will provide absolute safety and projectile control.
The overhaul has also transformed Henges into what Hindman referred to as a “total containment range.” The steel bullet trap downrange will collect projectiles, isolating the lead from the environment, and holding it where it can later be collected and recycled.
“Shooters will also be pleased to know that the range will stay as a multi-use range for handgun and rifle shooting with all 20 booths having target holders from seven yards to 100 yards,” Hindman explained.
To further assist hunters for the upcoming firearms deer season, which opens Nov. 13, Jay Henges Range will temporarily expand its hours to accommodate more shooters during this busy time. From Oct. 13 through Nov. 12, the range will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, offering shooters an additional 2 and 1/2 hours each day.
As of Nov. 13, the range will resume its normal hours for this time of year, which are 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
The range will open at noon on Friday, Oct. 29 to accommodate a formal reopening ceremony earlier that morning. The proceedings will be attended by a number of Conservation Department officials, including Deputy Director Tim Ripperger, Conservation Commissioner Don Johnson of St. Louis, and former Conservation Commissioner Jay Henges, for whom the range is named.
Hindman sees the newly renovated rifle/pistol range as a welcomed asset for shooters, and unique among such facilities in the St. Louis area.
“We have awaited the opening of this new range for quite some time,” he said, “and I am confident that shooters will not be disappointed.”
The Jay Henges Shooting Range is located along I-44 at 1100 Antire Road in High Ridge. For more information, call 636-938-9548. The range is owned and operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation.