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Gun Club nixes request for high-powered range

SHERIDAN — A proposal for a long-range high-powered rifle range at the Sheridan Gun Club was submitted to the Sheridan County Fair Association at its regular meeting Thursday but was later withdrawn following comments from adjacent landowners and land users.

An equestrian club that operates a cross country course — an “eventing” activity that involves jumping over obstacles as a test of endurance and skill — in the area would have been forced to close down if the Sheridan County Sportsman’s Association had leased a 100-acre tract of land northwest of the gun club for long-range shooting.

Adjacent landowners were concerned about livestock and horses that would roam close to the range boundary. The area is also used for hiking, bird hunting and other recreation activities.

“We never intended to step on anyone’s toes. We thought the land was not being used,” gun club representative Bob Prill said.

The gun club had hoped to build a 700- to 800-yard range for high powered guns. Shooting would have been aimed up a draw with a hill as a backstop. With their proposal withdrawn, the gun club may look at other options for a long-range shooting area.

Adjacent landowner Nick Siddle said he has never had a problem with the gun club as a neighbor, but that he liked having the 100-acre buffer zone the land offered between the gun club and his property. He expressed concern about his property value dropping, the noise of high-powered rifles, safety of horses and livestock in the area, as well as safety of people using the land for recreation.

Several users of the cross country course heard about the gun club’s plans and showed up at the Fair Association meeting to voice concern. Numbers for the equestrian club have been down, but recent efforts to boost the club and expand riding options — possibly by adding a dressage and/or show jumping course — have been explored, club member Starr Zabel said.

“The club is regaining momentum,” Zabel said.

The equestrian club announced at the meeting that it plans on submitting a proposal for jumping and other equestrian activities on the same plot of land the gun club had originally proposed to lease adjacent to the club off of Keystone Road. Representatives from the gun club said they supported such a proposal now that they knew how much that land area was used.

Commissioner Mike Nickel, who was at the meeting as a representative for the Sheridan County Commissioners, said he was glad so many people came to the fair board meeting to discuss options for the land. He encouraged the fair board to welcome additional proposals for the land that may benefit even more county residents.

In other business:

• The fair board unanimously approved the purchase of an arena kit for equestrian riding activities at the fairgrounds. The kit will cost $5,952.

“I think this is something we need. I would endorse it,” fairgrounds Director Jaime Ringley said. “The more users we have, the better, especially in the equestrian realm.”

• The board approved spending up to $13,000 for a preliminary water study and design of a water system upgrade by EnTech.

• Renee Obermueller, administrative director for the county, received approval to move accounts payable and payroll services for the fair to the county office to reduce administrative duties done by Ringley and his staff and to make fairgrounds accounting more accountable.

• Bonnie Gregory, with the Downtown Sheridan Association, received approval to seek grants to install a 30-by-15-foot commercial kitchen at the fairgrounds.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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