Shooters who usually use the rifle range on state game land 203 near Wexford are going to have to find someplace else to go for the next few months.
The busiest public shooting range in all of Pennsylvania is going to be shut down for nearly four months while it undergoes an update.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission announced on Thursday that the rifle range on state game land 203 in Allegheny County, near Wexford, will close on May 16. That’s to allow for “a major renovation and reconstruction project to begin.”
“The closure will be in effect while work is performed through most of the summer season. Plans are to reopen the new rifle range beginning Sept. 1, 2016,” reads a news release.
The separate pistol range on the game land will remain open during that time.
The project is expected to cost nearly $350,000. It’s being paid for using federal grant money and $25,000 from the National Rifle Association.
The closure of the rifle range will surely impact lots of shooters. The site is, by the commission’s own accounting, by far the most heavily used in the state. It draws shooters – hunters and target shooters alike — every day of the year.
It’s in need of repairs and upgrades, however, the commission said.
“This project will entail a total reconstruction and re-orientation of the existing rifle range,” said Doug Dunkerley, the game lands management group supervisor with authority for Allegheny County. “We will be adding capacity by creating new designated shooting ranges of various lengths separated by earthen berms in one comprehensive rifle-range system.”
That makes sense.
But riflemen and women will have to find somewhere else to shoot in the meantime.
That won’t mean simply going elsewhere on 203 and setting up a target. Shooting rifles on any other areas of the game lands will be prohibited, the commission said.
“We understand this closure is going to be a major inconvenience for the many shooters who’ve come to rely on this range, and we hope that the public understands and is patient while this important project is completed,” Dunkerley said. “When the project is complete, the shooting public will be better served and we will have an expanded and safer range and improved shooting experience for range users.”
The commission news release pointed out that there are shooting ranges on other game lands. It specifically highlighted game land 245 near Claysville in Washington County and game land 42 near New Florence in Westmoreland County.
Those are, however, roughly 60 and 90 minutes, respectively, from Wexford.
A full list of Game Commission ranges can be found here.